INSTANT WAYS TO BEAT THE BLUES
EXERCISE for two hours a week. If you currently do very little, then you are to be congratulated. All the benefits still await you and you’re likely to enjoy the very best effects.
The biggest impacts on mood, tolerance to stress and mental faculties are observed in those who go from doing nothing to doing a little. Several major studies suggest between two and six hours of cardiovascular exercise per week is optimal.
STOP striving for it. Yes, forget all about it! The less we care about happiness, the better chance we have of finding it. Today we are so bombarded by pictures of happy, attractive, harmonious lives, our expectations are unrealistically high. When our inner world doesn’t match our expectations, we are bound to be disappointed.
The solution? Lower those expectations, ignore demands to ‘cheer up’ and understand that happiness is not a series of ecstatic moments but the state we reach when, having worked out what’s important to us, our
life has meaning to ourselves and to others.
LIMIT social media to one hour a day. There are hard, scientific reasons for this. We are descendants of people who were absolutely desperate to ‘belong to the group’ and we never stop evaluating our position in the hierarchy.
To protect ourselves from being ousted, our brains are constantly asking things like: Do I fit in? Am I good, smart, funny or beautiful enough? Social media provides countless ways to feel inadequate and shove us down the pecking order, which our cavemen brains interpret as a source of intense stress. Get off your socials for a wellbeing boost.
TAKE a duvet day. When we’re stressed, our immune system shifts up a gear. That’s because, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors, stress was often a signal of imminent injury and, without antibiotics, an infected wound would have catastrophic consequences. It also explains why, when we feel stressed or low, we withdraw, isolate ourselves and pull the duvet over our heads.
This is our brain’s method of helping us avoid an infection or conserving our energy to fight one. In today’s world, stress comes not from a fear of infection but from work, rising bills and so on. To react to stressful situations with apathy or withdrawal is not a mark of sickness; it is healthy.
SOLVE problems when on the move. Studies have shown that the brain is at its sharpest when we are taking a brisk walk. For most of human history it was when we were hunting for food that we would most need concentration and problem-solving skills.
Had the brain evolved for today’s world, it would be sharpest in front of a computer, but of course, it didn’t.