Health… Joy, what wonderful gifts these would be to give ourselves. Actually we know that both health and joy are related. If you have good health and feel good then it is definitely easier to be joyful and have joy in your life. But research also shows that smiling and laughing have positive benefits on our immune systems, help manage pain, increase the blood circulation and reduce stress. So being joyful can also help with good health. When you are facing a stressful life or going through hard life changes that leave you feeling depressed, how do you find happiness or joy? Life is always changing and developing and with that we all have life problems. From a spiritual standpoint these problems bring with them life lessons and if we can identify the lesson and learn it then we can move on from that problem. On another level we all go through things that cause us to change our identities during our lives whether it is getting married or divorced, changing jobs, getting sick, having a child, the death of a parent or spouse, or winning a large amount of money. According to Martha Beck, author and life coach helping people find their life purpose, there are 4 stages we all need to go through when these life changes occur to get through them and come out metamorphisized instead of traumatized.
Finding Your Way to Happiness and Joy
These four stages are identified by Beck as Dissolving, Imagining, Reforming and Flying. They start with that feeling of falling apart or being out of control and move through grieving our losses, seeing hope for what is in the future, coming to terms with the changes in life and moving forward with life again. When you find yourself down and blue here are some tips for getting through these stages and finding ways to give yourself a lift.
- Pamper yourself with physical comforts. Allow yourself a day off to snuggle up with a good book or movie, go to a day spa for a massage and facial, soak in a relaxing bubble bath or whatever physically feels comforting to you.
- Getting the right amount of sleep is important for good health, creativity and being able to stay focused. You’ve probably heard that you need 8 hours of sleep a night, but studies in the journal Sleep have actually reported that people getting 7 hours of sleep live longer than those getting 8 hours. One way to know the optimal amount of sleep for you is to find a time that you can sleep as long as you like without having to set an alarm clock, mark the time you go to bed and the time you awake naturally refreshed, then count how many hours you slept.
- If you have experienced a loss, give yourself permission to go through the grieving process and don’t berate yourself if you don’t get everything on your to do list done or don’t do everything as efficiently as you usually do. Just expect that you’ll be “off” your game and that it is OK.
- A positive attitude can be contagious. Research has shown this in business with greeters smiling and saying hello resulting in increased customer and employee satisfaction. We also see examples of this in the “pay it forward” scenarios where one person does a simple act of kindness for someone else and that inspires the second person to do the same for someone else. If you are really down, go do something nice for someone else and it will also give you a lift. A very simple act of charity that can help you get this boost is donating through the GIVE program which donates algae products to undernourished children, adults and animals around the world. We have brain receptors that cause us to mimic certain actions of those around us like yawning or smiling. Paul Marsden, researcher at University of Sussex, reported that emotions like stress, anxiety, optimism, confidence and boredom are also mirrored this way. So being around someone else who is positive can help give you a boost too. Get out to a park, spiritual center or church, or somewhere else people are happy and upbeat to help get out of your funk.
- Give yourself time to daydream and imagine what you want for your future. Spiritually, wish is one of the first stages to bringing forward a manifestation. Let your mind wander free and try out all the possibilities of what your life can look like.
- Many people, when exposed to natural sunlight, report that they are in a better mood, and that their nerves are soothed. This is because exposure to sunlight increases the production of endorphins and serotonin in the brain. Our bodies also produce vitamin D from being exposed to the sun. There are concerns though that too much sunlight leaves us at risk for skin cancers, but a Harvard Health Letter indicates that experts advise 15 minutes a day two times a week of sunlight exposure has benefits such as lowering the risk for multiple sclerosis, some cancers and some types of depression. Michael A. Grandner, PhD, a research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania says that getting sun exposure first thing in the morning can boost your mood for the entire day and that if there isn’t sun in the morning then bright light indoors can be a good substitute.
- Live in the present. Worries and fears exist either in the past or the future. Put your attention only on the present, what you are doing right this moment.
- Make a gratitude list. Writing down all that you have to be grateful for can help you raise your emotional level. Re-read the list daily and find things you can add to it. If you are really depressed, it may be hard to identify items for the list at first. You may have to start with very small things like “I am breathing well”, but hopefully you will be able to raise your tone up to the level of finding other things like good friends or family, a job you like, enough food to eat, that you are kind to others, a good listener, and so on.
- Strengthen your immune system to support optimal health for yourself. A large part of this comes from having good intestinal health. Recent research is showing links between the microbes in our intestines and just about every disease. Our digestive system does more than use our intestinal bacteria to digest our food, it also produces vitamins like B vitamins that our bodies need, fights off bad bacteria and viruses that make us sick, and sends signals to the brain. Research is showing that the type of mix of bacteria in a person’s intestines can affect whether or not they will have certain diseases. Some types of bacteria make the immune system strong while other types can promote inflammation. Give yourself the gift of eating healthier with foods that support digestive health and starting a nutritional supplement program such as these convenient packets of capsules with AFA bluegreen algae, acidophilus, bifidus and digestive enzymes.
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