The relentless pursuit of happiness seems to be a quintessential art of modern human existence. These days, we seem to be continuous chasing happiness, which remains elusive for many.
If you struggle with feelings of depression or simply discontentment, there could be something unusual to blame. Sometimes the things that are making us unhappy are those which we least expect, even if they are right in front of us.
Here are some things which may be making you unhappy without you realising it, and what to do about them.
Getting Too Much Sleep
You probably already know that not getting enough sleep can contribute to depression and general low moods. However, you may not realise that having too much sleep can also adversely affect your mood. Experts recommend that we get between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. Research has shown that sleeping more than this may contribute to fatigue, irritability and mood swings.
You may be oversleeping is because your sleep quality is poor (for example you sleep restlessly, frequently waking up in the middle of the night) and/or you go to sleep very late and so sleep late in the morning. To ensure that you get a solid night of quality sleep every night, it is important to set up a regular sleeping routine, and stick to it. Be sure to go to bed at the same time every night, and take steps to help you drop off to sleep, such as turning off all electronic devices at least 45 minutes before you go to bed, and taking a relaxing shower or bath. (1)
We all know that cigarettes are incredibly harmful to our physical health. But did you know that they are also damaging to your mental wellbeing? This is because nicotine causes changes in your brain which can trigger anxiety and depression. If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your happiness. Of course quitting isn’t that easy: nicotine is a highly addicted chemical and the unfortunate truth is that most of those who try to quit “cold turkey” will fail.
E-cigarettes have been shown to help smokers quit, because you can control your nicotine intake with e-liquids of various nicotine strengths, so that you can gradually step your addiction down over time. Additionally, the action of vaping mimics that of smoking a cigarette, which is helpful for those who are hooked not only on nicotine but also the habitual action. High powered devices like the Smok Alien 220w UK even deliver the same experience as smoking a cigarette, so are a useful stepping stone to quitting entirely.
Something else which is damaging to not only your physical but also your mental health is saturated fat. It is common to reach for pizza or French fries if you’re feeling a little low, but these kinds of fatty foods may actually be harming your mood. You’ll then seek out more saturated fat, which will make you more depressed, and the downward spiral continues.
When you start to feel depressed, skip the burgers and opt for a healthy, mood-boosting food instead. Foods which make us feel happier are those rich in calcium, such as dairy, seeds, sardines and lentils, and magnesium, which include green leafy vegetables, bananas and nuts. (2)
It is natural to feeling like staying home and not dealing with people when you are feeling low or depressed. However, isolating yourself from others has been shown to worsen depression, because it becomes easy to get into a cycle of negative self-talk and feelings of helplessness.
Socialising is an instant mood booster, so when you are feeling low, instead of curling up on the couch force yourself to go out. If you don’t have a strong social network to rely on, join a local club, take an exercise class, or volunteer in your local community – this will let you meet new people and connect with others. Additionally, having strong connections with others, whether family, close friends or your local community, will help to build long-term and sustainable happiness.
Believe it or not, the colours which surround you could be affecting your mood. The colour of your walls or other strong tones around you can have an incredible impact on your emotions. Red, for example, has been shown to increase feelings of anger and anxiousness.
Yellow, on the other hand, is known to improve moods and make us feel happier, so if you are prone to low mood brighten up your space with some lemon yellow curtains or a sunny rug. If you tend to be anxious or on edge, blue tones will help you to relax so consider adding some azure shades to your décor.
Sometimes even simple things can help us to improve our moods, and contribute to long-term happiness. If you are prone to feeling low, look to your diet, lifestyle and habits, to see what changes you can make to be a happier, healthier version of yourself!