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Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

Steps to Happiness: Lifestyle


HE_apple-on-scale_s4x3_leadIf you consider part of happiness to be a daily maintenance, or a homeostasis, of mood, then there are concrete steps you can take to regulate a steady level. These aspects contribute towards physical health, which is one of the ten domains of happiness.

This post will identify and analyze the key lifestyle aspects that affect mood and happiness.

Eating Well: It turns out that your “Happy Meal” is a misnomer. The rush of saturated fats and simple starches create a spike in energy that is quickly followed by a depression, both in energy and mood. Healthy eating habits are far more likely to keep you balanced and amiable  foods with omega-3 acids like fish and flax seed are especially linked to warding off bad moods and even mild depression. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables also have this effect.

Rest: Sleep is key to maintaining happiness. Nothing ruins your morning like dragging yourself out of bed after only a few hours of shut eye. Though the hectic schedule that many students balance can make adequate rest seem impossible, carving out a solid seven hours every night might actually increase your productivity and social interactions during the day, leading to less overall stress. And, as The Happiness Project states, “Sleep is important to general health, which is very important to happiness.” Good ways to prepare for sleep are cutting caffeine after 4 PM, dimming the lights in the evening, and avoiding tasks that take a mental toll one hour before bed.

Consistency: Do things you enjoy every day! As simple as this sounds, it really makes a difference. Just having a scheduled activity you look forward to will brighten up your day. It can be reading a book before bed, a Netflix fix before class, afternoon coffee with a friend, something that makes you laugh. Whatever makes you excited for the day.

Exercise: Health studies have long made the connection between regular exercise and happiness. According to Fox News, exercise burns the stress hormone cortisol while boosting endorphin,  which makes humans feel something akin to euphoria. This process improves both physical and mental health. An hour of constant movement everyday is the ideal. One researcher from this study states that “”Mostly, you get a consistent high from a workout to music and a workout that you enjoy.”

Even working to improve one area of these lifestyle factors can significantly improve your daily level of happiness.

Tell us what you think! Are there any foods, practices, or exercises that noticeably affect  your mood?

Next: Environmental Quality

Resources:
More about the importance of sleep for college students
Positive Psychology

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Author: Sara Kenning

Sustainability Assistant at Seattle Pacific University's Office of Facility and Project Management

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