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

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

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

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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 you can deci...

Identifying Unhelpful Thoughts
  • Black and White ThinkingThere 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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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.

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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.

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Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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