Did you know that a hug can be one way you can get essential daily nutrients that nourish well-being? Essential daily nutrients don’t always refer to food. In this post, read about some daily habits that can result in better physical and mental health.
A positive impact
For humans to flourish they need some essential daily nutrients. These come from food but also from other things like a laugh, a hug and moments of positive emotion – having a positive impact on our emotional well-being. Their impact is heightened when they occur with someone we get on well with. So says Dr. Barbara Fredrickson who studies the impact of positive emotions. She is a professor in Psychology at the University of North Carolina and director of the university’s Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory.
Psychophysiology is the scientific study of the interaction between mind and body. In more technical terms, it is concerned with the relationship between mental (psyche) and physical (physiological) processes.
Fostering positivity is a long game
Fredrickson’s research for the last 25 years has focused on positive emotions. She suggests that fostering positivity is something that is done long-term. It is about increasing our self-awareness by developing and using tools that help us grow, and become “better versions of ourselves”. Negative emotions, on the other hand, are adaptive in the short-term.
Skills to build positivity
Fredrickson suggests that when you connect with others, the resultant “micro-moments of positivity resonance build bonds, weave the social fabric that creates our community, and promote health.” Positive emotions can be fostered in a number of ways.
- Do good things for other people
Making others happier, enhances your own positive feelings. This can be as simple as holding the door open for someone or giving directions to a place of interest.
- Appreciate the world around you
Take a moment to appreciate something of natural beauty around you, someone’s appearance or the design of a building or thing. In essence, the value is in the act of appreciation.
- Develop and bolster relationships
Building strong personal connections enhances feelings of self-worth
- Establish goals that can be accomplished
Having something to work towards that is achievable is much more worthwhile than striving for something that may be impractical or too challenging inducing unnecessary stress and anxiety
- Learn something new
Try a new sport/language/instrument/game. It instils a sense of achievement, self-confidence and resilience. Realistic and practical goals are important here too.
- Choose to accept yourself, flaws and all
Focus on your positive attributes and achievements, not your imperfections and failures.
- Practice resilience
Try to take a learning perspective on loss, stress, failure or trauma. These challenges can provide you with ways to develop and embrace better outcomes.
- Practice mindfulness
Recognise what you cannot control and focus on the present. A course in mindfulness may help. The core learning is to recognise when you are ruminating on past problems or future difficulties – neither of which help your current state. Such thinking can drain you of energy and take your attention away from being present to what is actually going on.
According to Fredrickson, repeated brief moments of positive feelings can provide a buffer against stress and depression and foster both physical and mental health. The choice is ours. What will you choose?