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Sunday 19 August 2018

Temp Head

The summer has come to a close, the cold snap is upon us and the next two-week holiday is a full year away. Add to this the financial drain that is the back to school spend, not to mention the small matter of the stagnating economy and widespread redundancies . . . It's enough to bring on the blues. Remember, though, moods dips are common during the month of September and a few simple changes to your lifestyle can lift your spirits instantly. Here's how . . .

1 Smile regardless of whether you want to. Smiling -- even a fake smile -- releases the endorphins serotonin and dopamine, nature's feel-good chemicals.

2 Count your blessings It could always be worse . . . Give thanks for everything you have rather than dwelling on what you don't have. Science has proved that gratitude lifts the mood.

One study showed that participants who wrote down five things for which they were grateful once a week for 10 weeks, reported that they felt 25pc happier when their mood was assessed after the experiment.

3 Go outside Connect with nature. In a groundbreaking study 71pc of people reported decreased levels of depression after a 'green walk'. Conversely, 22pc felt their depression increased after walking through an indoor shopping centre.

It's known as ecotherapy and studies have proved that being in the great outdoors can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as lowering blood pressure.

4 Listen to music A report from the McGill University in Montreal found that music which gives you goosebumps increases the body's levels of feelgood chemical dopamine by 21pc.

The type of music that gives you goosebumps is, of course, subjective. By the same token, it's near impossible to feel glum while listening to Lovely Day by Bill Withers; Higher & Higher by Jackie Wilson, Five Years' Time by Noah and the Whale . . . or indeed anything by Michael Jackson, Prince or Stevie Wonder. Seriously, try it.

5Clean your home Tidy home, tidy mind, goes the old adage. A recent survey found that 57pc of respondents said that a disorderly house is a source of stress.

Decluttering creates order, and order creates clarity. At the very least, you'll be able to find a pair of socks during the morning rush.

6 Get a pet According to a study, pet owners have "greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners."

7Think positive Studies show that optimists are healthier and live longer. In every problem lies an opportunity. Need proof? Just examine previous so-called setbacks in your life. Where did they lead you? More than likely to a better place.

8forgive and forget People who forgive are happier and healthier. Physical benefits include better cardiovascular health and improved immunity. Psychological effects include less stress and more self-confidence. Don't forget to forgive yourself. Regret is an utterly needless emotion.

9read motivational quotes The internet is teeming with inspiring quotes that will give you a sense of perspective and a feeling of hope. Make a compendium of your favourites and revert to them when your mood dips.

10 decide to feel better Happiness is an inside job. The only person who can make you feel better is you (nope, not even a boyfriend). In the words of Wayne Dyer: "Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice."

11help someone else When you feel helpless the best thing to do is help somebody else. The Dalai Lama calls it 'selfish altruism'; scientists call it 'helpers' high'. Whatever way you look at it, helping others produces endorphins and activates the pleasure pathways in the brain.

12 Check your company Are you keeping company with so-called 'energy vampires'?

Be aware of the people who suck your energy. "The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best," said Greek philosopher Epictetus.

13 Take stock Congratulate yourself for everything you have achieved, even if you're struggling to achieve more.

Make time to recognise your achievements, however small, and make sure to reward yourself for a job well done.

14 A fat lot of good Fast food actually does make you happier. "Eating fat seems to make us less vulnerable to sad emotions, even if we don't know we're eating fat," says Dr Lukas Van Oudenhove of the University of Leuven, in Belgium. But don't eat too much of it.

15Set goals Setting goals makes you happier, say researchers (and more likely to achieve your ambitions, according to other quarters). What's more, the higher you set your goals, the happier you are, claim professors at the University of California.

16Don't worry Worrying is akin to carrying a rucksack full of lead on your back everywhere you go. It is a useless emotion that serves absolutely no purpose. Somehow we're programmed to believe that worrying about something or somebody -- a spouse, a child -- has a tangible effect on the outcome. It doesn't. In actual fact, it just makes everyone involved feel worse.

17Live in the moment Fear not the future; weep not for the past. Living in the moment is one of the most difficult states of being to achieve but is utter bliss when you get there. For inspiration, read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

18 Practice yoga The benefits of practicing yoga include a cheerier disposition. A team at Arizona's Northcentral University recently concluded that: "Those who make a long-term commitment to yoga tend to be happier and healthier -- and the benefits continue to accrue the longer you stick with it."

19 Exercise Studies have revealed that exercise lifts the mood. Many doctors prescribe it to those suffering from mild to moderate depression. Actress and swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker attributes exercise to her cheery disposition. "I'm a much happier person and a much better person to be around when I'm working out because it gets the endorphins going."

20 Happy Meals Studies show that people with higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are usually happier, less impulsive and more agreeable. It is also proven to reduce stress. Salmon and other oily fish, flax seed and walnuts are rich sources of it.

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