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4 things you can do to cheer up, according to neuroscience

https://bigthink.com/robby-berman/4-things-you-can-do-to-cheer-up-according-to-neuroscience

bigthink.com

4 things you can do to cheer up, according to neuroscience
For everyone, there are times when a dark cloud just seems to be following you around. You may not even even know why.

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Get Back to Being Happy

Get Back to Being Happy

Our brain is tricky, and there are subtle ways to get it to be less depressed or anxious. If we are constantly feeling guilty, shameful or even worry a lot, the brain wants to continue that activity due to it providing a source of gratification to it.

Just as negative thinking keeps the brain in an inactive and dull state, positive thinking, or gratitude has the effect of boosting serotonin, that is beneficial for your health and mood.

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Label Those Culprits

If there is a negative emotion, like anger, sadness, or stress, keeping it vague makes it affect everything around you.

If you name or label the emotion and use a symbolic metaphor to describe it, then its negative effect is diluted.

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Decide and Take Action

If you are constantly worried and anxious while making no decision on your problem, you will remain in a state of turmoil internally.

Taking a decision, even if it is not a perfect one, will provide closure to your mind and you will feel less stressed.

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The Power of Touch

  • Hugging someone with feeling and affection releases the chemical oxytocin in the body, which helps in uplifting your mood.
  • Touching and even holding hands is shown to improve the positive feelings in humans.

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Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

Challenge Unhelpful Thoughts

Listen to your thoughts — but don’t necessarily believe them.

They're suggestions, possibilities. But they’re not gospel. You can’t control what thoughts pop up, but y...

Identifying Unhelpful Thoughts

  • Black and White Thinking: There are heaping piles of nuance to most things.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: Cynicism is bad, but a little skepticism is essential.
  • Selective Attention: If your brain is always looking for the negative, you’re gonna find it.
  • Disqualifying the Positive: Sometimes we go into problem-solving mode and focus only on what is broken.
  • Predicting the Future: “This will never work” or “They’re going to think I’m stupid.” You don’t know the future. So don’t act like it.
  • “Should” thoughts: It’s usually just an insistence that the world bends to your will and is a great way to amplify frustration.

Do More Stuff

Doing little positive things is better for happiness than occasionally bagging an elephant:

  • Enjoyable stuff
  • Achievement stuff: Defeat your goals in single combat and feel like a conquering hero
  • Meaningful stuff: Do volunteer work or just help someone
  • Physical stuff: Exercise. Not only keeps you alive, but it’s like miracle grow for your brain
  • Social stuff.

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Hypnosis

Hypnosis

It has been around for hundreds of years, and yet it is a sidelined subject, not fully understood even by the brightest minds.

  • It refers to a trance-like state in which t...

Modern Hypnotism

Austrian physician Franz Mesmer is the modern father of hypnosis, instrumental in coining the word ‘mesmerism’ which refers to the hypnotic state.

James Braid, an eye doctor, accidentally discovered the power and usability of hypnotism when one of his patients got into a trance-like state starting at a lamp.

Auto-Suggestion

  • In the 1900s Emile Coué, worked on affirmations and auto-suggestions, as a form of self-hypnosis therapy. His famous phase was “Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.”

  • Milton Erikson, a psychotherapist, was fascinated by this psychological hack and devised many innovative techniques to utilize hypnosis in various clinical practices.

Altering the brain

Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benef...

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.