Easy Happiness Hack
We all have times we don’t feel great, sometimes it is a long tough day or something has temporarily thrown you off balance and other times it’s a more long term. Either way there are some hacks you can do to lift your #mood .
In simple terms you can trick your body into happiness and help it generate the nervous and biochemical (such as dopamine and serotonin) responses that create the state of happiness.
You have probably heard that putting on a smile makes you feel happier, or about those laughing groups, where people get together and just laugh out loud for the fun of it and claim it improves their mood. Well, for all you fellow left-brain thinkers, there is a science behind it……
This is down to the vagus nerve. Research has shown that there is a connection between the vagus nerve and smiling. It acts like a feedback loop. In other words when you smile your vagus nerve feeds back that you are smiling and that promotes the happiness responses.
So the hack is to activate the vagus nerve, to trick it into sending the signal that you are experiencing a happy response so that it feeds back and creates the resulting biochemical reactions which then increase your level of happiness.
The Hack “How to”
Actions such as laughing out loud, singing, humming and smiling will activate the short circuit the feedback loop.
What if you just don’t feel like it?
If you’re really not in the mood to sing in the shower, force a smile or any of that then holding a pen, pencil or chopstick in your mouth (horizontally) is enough to trick your body into believing you are smiling and generate the same feedback.
The more you can integrate this into routine or daily habit the more of a permanent impact it can create as your body adjust and starts to crave the biochemicals aligned to a more positive state, improve sleep, reduce stress, increase overall well-being and even reduce pain!
Activation of the vagus nerve through certain practices such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation, can increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to increased feelings of calm and relaxation. The #parasympathetic nervous system is a network of nerves that relaxes your body after periods of stress or danger preventing the body from overworking, restoring calm, and helps run life-sustaining processes, like digestion, during times when you feel safe and relaxed. Whereas, stimulated by stress, the sympathetic nervous system controls “fight-or-flight” responses and prepares the body for strenuous physical activity, resulting in reactions such as reduced blood flow to the digestive and immune systems, which, if long term, can create significant physical health issues.
The vagus nerve also plays a major role in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body's "rest and digest" functions, and plays a part in controlling the cranial muscles (think about those headaches), influences digestive and immune systems, and heart rate regulation.
It is also good to be aware that periods of illness, reduced movement or exercise can reduce vagus nerve activity so it is important to be aware of how you feel and be proactive about improving it. Maybe make asking yourself the question, “How am I feeling today?” part of your morning routine, something to ponder in the shower or as you brush your teeth.