7 tips to beat the 'Blue Monday' blues
As the holiday cheer wears off, bills arrive and reality sets in, it’s common to feel a little gloomy this time of the year. To help you beat the "Blue Monday" blues, happiness researcher Gillian Mandich shares some tips on how to become happier in 2017.
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Let go of grudges:
Mandich explained that we often think we have to add things or do certain things in order to be happier. Although that can be a significant element to the equation, she said subtracting negative thoughts can be just as important.
“So taking time to let go of grudges, to let go of that pain or anger or frustration towards people or situations,” Mandich told CTV’s Your Morning. “That can leave room for more positive emotions like happiness.”
Mandich said ridding yourself of that extra emotional baggage can make you feel freer, lighter and happier overall.
Fake it ‘till you make it:
From her time studying the common traits of happy people, Mandich has learned that many of them make a habit of smiling, even if they’re not actually feeling very positive in that exact moment. She explained that, when the muscles used for smiling are fired up, it signals to the rest of the body that we are happy.
“On a physiological level, what that does is it starts to change the chemistry of your body to be happier,” Mandich said.
Mandich said one of her favourite tips to promote happiness is to encourage others to get outside into nature. She called it an immediate mood booster and it can also help our cognitive functions, such as how we’re thinking and our creativity.
“When we go out into nature, we see so many different smells and patterns and what are called fractal patterns,” Mandich explained. “They’re very creative patterns, such as when you look at a leaf or the top of a broccoli, as opposed to cities where you see a lot of straight lines. They’re not as stimulating for our brain.”
Even if you’re stuck in an office all day and don’t have the option of heading outside, Mandich recommended simply looking at a photo of nature at your desk. She said there has been research that shows it can also be beneficial for your mood, productivity and memory, even if it’s not quite as much as the real thing.
Change your perspective:
Instead of viewing something as a problem, Mandich recommends changing your perspective to see it as a challenge. She likened happiness to a muscle, in the sense that the more you use it, the more it will grow. If you consciously make an effort to change your outlook on situations, it will start to become instinctual over time, according to the researcher.
“A happy person might see a challenge instead of a problem because that intuitively brings with it the suggestion that there is a solution,” Mandich said.
Avoid making excuses:
Although it’s tempting or easy to blame others for the problems in your life, Mandich cautions against this type of thinking. She said you’re unlikely to move beyond your failures if you don’t take ownership for them.
Mandich said that happy people take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps and use them as an opportunity to change for the better. She said you will be able to take back control of your life if you accept responsibility for it.
Be a good listener:
Mandich said listening can help you soak up the wisdom of other and can allow you to quiet your own mind at the same time. She stressed that happy people, in general, tend to listen more than they talk.
Although it’s important to express yourself, Mandich said listening can open your mind and introduce you to different perspectives.
You don’t have to be happy all the time:
Lastly, Mandich said it’s important to remember that you don’t have to feel happy all of the time.
“You need a wide range of emotions in order to experience the full spectrum of life,” she suggested.
The researcher said that spending more time on positive emotions and less time with negative, depressing ones will help you find more balance and overall happiness.