Word-Of-the-Week #734: Well-being

August 30, 2018 by  

Well-being – a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous. 

How often do you feel a sense of contentment? How much time do you devote to yourself? How often do you get a good night’s sleep?

This week features the 2nd half of Ways to reduce anxiety, improve well-being,”  by Melanie Curtin, Inc.

To Recap         1. Meditate                 2. Go forest bathing                3. Chew gum

  1. Journal

According to psychologist L. Kevin Chapman, PhD, “When we experience stress and the negative emotions associated with it, we typically stay in our own heads and do little to address our thinking.” 

Instead of hanging out with toxic thoughts, he suggests reducing anxiety with “objective recording.” Here’s how you do it: Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. Mark the left column, “Negative things I’m saying to myself.” Mark the right, “Alternatives.” Fill out both. 

“When we simply acknowledge what we’re saying to ourselves out of stress, we often realize how silly we are being,” says Chapman. 

Multiple studies back up the idea that writing out your thoughts and feelings helps you process emotions in a healthy way, significantly reducing anxiety. One study showed that people who journaled about upsetting events for just 20 minutes a day for three days healed from physical wounds over 75 percent faster than the control group. 

Another showed that college students who engaged in expressive writing experienced less depression, anxiety, and stress after two months than control students. 

  1. Get enough sleep

If you take nothing else away from this, hear this: If you’re prone to anxiety, it’s critical that you get enough sleep. 

According to neuroscientists out of UC Berkeley, when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain’s amygdala and insular cortex both light up in a pattern similar to the abnormal neural activity of people with anxiety disorders. 

Senior study author Matthew Walker says, “These findings help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation.” 

In other words, if you’re anxious, you’re far more likely to develop a full-on anxiety disorder if you don’t get enough sleep regularly. It’s vital that your brain gets the rest you need. 

  1. Laugh

Laughter is an easy, cheap, and surprisingly effective way of reducing anxiety and boosting mood. The Mayo Clinic says laughing stimulates your heart and lungs, bringing in lots of oxygen-rich air. It also ups your endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter, and improves your immune functioning. 

Multiple studies show that while laughter initially triggers your stress response (causing your heart rate and blood pressure to spike), when it subsides it calms your nervous system down to a point where you feel not just relaxed, but relaxed and happy. 

My favorite way to get in a quick laugh is to watch news bloopers.  

  1. Check your email less

Researchers out of University of British Columbia took 124 study participants and had one group limit how often they checked their email (to three times a day only). The other group could check as often as they wanted. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers found that people were less stressed when they checked their email less frequently. 

The key here is to limit how often you’re doing it. It’s not about neglecting your duties, but about not jumping every time you see an email notification pop up on your phone. 

Consider taking all that time you’re saving by not checking your email to meditate, journal, take a forest bath, and/or watch a funny video.

This week’s focus is on well-being. How often do you journal your feelings? When was the last time you had a really good belly laugh? How easy is it to turn off your devices? This last one just keeps showing up in article after article. That should be reason enough to give it a rest. Try it… you just might like it!

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