Naturopathic Medicine: On Happiness
esterday was the International Day of Happiness! Isn’t it great that this year, the International Day of Happiness also landed on the first day of spring! This day really got me thinking… how do we create more happiness in our lives? And how do we allow ourselves to experience this happiness daily?
The Dalai Lama has described happiness as “the highest form of health”. In order to feel happiness, we must feel healthy.
Here are some tips on how we can cultivate some more happiness in our lives:
- Exercise – researchers have found that exercise boosts serotonin – our “feel good” hormone. Even gentle exercise such as walking can help boost your mood. Exercise raises dopamine and oxytocin levels – two hormones responsible for happiness and love. The link between exercise and mood is very strong. Usually within a few minutes of some physical activity, you will begin to feel the mood enhancing effects.
- Family/Friends/Support – the happiest people in the world have a sense of connection and community with others. They feel supported and know that they are not alone– Having meaningful and strong connections in our lives increases serotonin and oxytocin levels.
- Gratitude – We all have things to be grateful for but sometimes we can forget what these things are. Incorporating a daily gratitude practice into your schedule has been shown to increase happiness. Waking up a few minutes earlier every morning and writing 3 things that you are grateful for in a journal can help to increase your happiness.
- Journaling – We often keep our emotions and negative feelings bottled up inside. It has been shown time and time again that journaling – getting our feelings and emotions out on paper – can help to make us happier. Journaling gives you a private place to express your feelings and emotions without the fear of judgement.
- Healthy diet – eating foods that are nurturing – eat a nutrient rich, whole food diet that includes healthy proteins, omega 3 fats, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water. Try leafy greens, foods high in omega 3’s and nuts and seeds. This is going to nourish your body and mind. Treats fall into this category too! Make sure you’re always balancing eating foods that are healthy for your body but also healthy for your mind (enjoyment!)
- Practice relaxation, breathing exercises, yoga and/or meditation.
- Mindfulness – When we are worrying about the past or feeling nervous about the future, we are not cultivating happiness. When we are present, in the moment, we are practicing mindfulness and this is where happiness can be experienced.
There can be pre-existing conditions which might make one feel less happy – some of these are anemia, thyroid dysfunction, adrenal fatigue, low progesterone, elevated testosterone, chronic illness and more. Contact your naturopathic doctor in order to deal with any conditions that may be affecting your happiness.
There are supplements that have been shown to increase mood and happiness.
- 5-HTP: this is a chemical that the body makes from tryptophan – an essential amino acid that you get from food. Once tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, it is then converted in your body into serotonin. A daily 5-HTP supplement can increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. Since serotonin has benefits on regulating mood and behaviour – this supplement may have a positive effect on sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite and pain sensation. Because 5-HTP can be toxic at high doses, please talk to your naturopathic doctor before taking this supplement.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: these have been shown in multiple studies to increase mood and decrease the risk of depression.
- Vitamin D: The lower your vitamin D level, the more likely you are to experience depression. Many people are in better moods in the spring and the summer when they are exposed to more sunlight and feel a low mood and a sense of gloom in the winter when they are exposed to less sunlight.
If you feel you are not experiencing enough happiness in your life, please reach out. There is support available out there and you do not have to suffer especially alone.
Please feel welcome to connect with us by phone or email to book a free 30 minute initial consultation to find out how we can help to increase your overall happiness.