Poignant, depressed faces are all around us — in public transport, work places, and even at home. Happiness may be a state of mind but it takes effort to stay in that state.
Staying cheerful becomes an uphill task, especially when living a hectic and goal-oriented lifestyle. But a bad mood is good for nothing and should be avoided.
"Mental wellness is the achievement of personal expectations. When a person falls short of achieving expectations, there is a generation of sadness and restlessness. If this state of mind continues for more than a few weeks, it leads to an altered functioning of the brain, which can lead to depression or clinical anxiety," says Dr Hemant Mittal, neuro psychologist.
The activities which we enjoy help us combat depression. And according to clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany they are called 'coping resources'. We enumerate some of them.
Exercise and meditation
"Exercise is a natural stimulator for the chemicals in our brains," says Mimrah Ansari, relationship expert. Physical movement and meditation are complementary. "Many profound changes have been traced in the brain with this practice, like activation of feel-good hormones which again help in coping with depression," says Seema.
A psychological research suggests that listening to upbeat music can improve your mood instantly and eliminate negative thoughts from your mind. Music soothes brain and helps you recollect your thoughts. "Many people come back reporting that they felt very alert, had good feeling and better positive thoughts in their day-to-day activities, which helps in reducing depression," Seema explains.
A touch of nature adds great therapeutic value to a person's psyche. According to a survey for Gardeners’ World magazine, more than 90 per cent of gardeners think it improves their mood. It also found that gardeners are less likely to display signs associated with unhappiness or depression.
Human touch releases uplifting endorphins like serotonin, and reduces blood pressure and heart rate, making you more relaxed and content. Mimrah suggests, "Cuddle up or play with your pet. Studies have shown that just petting your furry friend can lower blood pressure and bring in a sense of calmness. Pet therapy is a growing field to help people recover from mental health disorders." And a good hug from you loved ones can fight any disturbing thought.
Seema says, "Women usually like indulging in activities like baking, cooking, stitching, painting and cleaning. Not necessarily due to gender but may be because of natural instinct." It is also suggested that decluttering your cupboard or house may help you sort personal issues. When people indulge in such activities they are basically flexing their grey matter and enhancing their cognitive abilities which further helps in increase in memory and motor-related activities.
A good nap, a healthy meal, a favourite movie or just contributing in social cause may also help you rejuvenate that mood. "Any activity to have a long-term positive effect on the psyche of an individual should have passion, goal-directed approach and discipline," says Hemant. Activities help us stay cheerful, but we should not forget that happiness is a sort of mind game and winning it is in our hands.
Communication is the key to every problem. It’s not easy, but telling people about your depression is better than keeping it a secret. Even if they don’t entirely understand what you’re going through, friends, family, and other confidantes can provide emotional support, help you seek treatment options, and serve as sounding boards. Also, it’s harder to be happy when you’re isolated. Surrounding yourself with other happy people can hike your odds of being upbeat by 9 per cent, studies show.
Studies collated by the database say you tend to be happier if you:
l Are in a long-term relationship
l Are actively engaged in politics
l Are active in work and in your free time
l Go out for dinner
l Have close friendships (though happiness does not increase with the number of friends you have)
Some surprising findings:
l People who drink in moderation are happier than people who don't drink at all
l Men tend to be happier in a society where women enjoy greater equality
l Being considered good looking increases men's happiness more than it does women's
l You tend to be happier if you think you're good looking, rather than if you actually, objectively speaking, are
l Having children lowers your happiness levels, but your happiness increases when they grow up and leave home