Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Nine Surprising Ways To Feel Happier
Try these simple tweaks to add more joy to your day from Marie Shanahan MA, BSN, HN-BC.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money or undergo a total life shift to feel happier. Marie Shanahan MA, BSN, HN-BC, founder and president of The BirchTree Center for Healthcare Transformation and a past member of the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Grand Challenge Steering Committee, says you can take small steps each day to live more joyfully. A few of her suggestions:
Make a choice. “Society encourages us to look for the external to define our happiness, so one of the most important things to do is choose to be happy,” says Shanahan. “Obviously, things happen. We have losses and frustrations, but being happy is your birthright. You don’t need permission to enjoy your life,” she says. Turns out, there’s something to the famous quote, “happiness is an inside job.”
Sneak good news into your day. One of the ways Shanahan decides to be happy is by marking happiness expert Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page as a favorite. This way, whenever she goes onto Facebook, the first thing to pop up is an uplifting post from that page.
Keep happiness hints in sight. Immerse yourself in reminders of your favorite things. Shanahan also keeps a special card from her son on her desk and uses a calendar with inspirational quotes to keep joy at the forefront of her mind. She suggests nurses use their lockers as a place to keep mementos or things that make them feel cheerful. “Make it your own personal Pinterest board of happy things,” she says.
Change your mindset. Before you meet a new patient or walk into a meeting, envision everyone being at their best. Shanahan says that taking a moment to picture a positive outcome can help you approach each situation with more optimism and understanding.
Tame technology. Every time we get a text, email, or social media notification, the reward center in our brain lights up. In moderation, this can be a good thing, but using screens and devices to derive pleasure can lead to addiction. If you suspect you’re becoming too dependent on your devices – or if you feel lost without them – consider taking a Facebook fast or only checking email or text messages at certain times of day. You’ll be better equipped to stay in the moment, which can make you happier.
Organize your area. As Gretchin Rubin of The Happiness Project often says, “Outer order contributes to inner peace.” Take a few minutes to clean up or rearrange your desk, locker, or the nurses’ station. It can have a big impact on your disposition.
Spend time outdoors. Studies show that spending time outside may reduce stress and increase health and wellbeing. Want a few easy stress-relievers? Check out our blog post, Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Today.
Smile. You’ve probably heard this before, but smiling (even when you don’t feel like doing it) can help you feel happier. Your facial muscles give the cue to your brain to feel happy and your brain follows suit.
Deliver compliments. Tell your coworkers what you appreciate about them. “As nurses, we need to build each other up. Delivering authentic compliments, can contribute to a huge happiness boost for other nurses—and for you, too,” says Shanahan.
Nurses always put others first, but sometimes we need to make ourselves a priority. “Nurses are taught to be perfectionists. That’s good when it comes to work, because a careless error can become a life or death situation in our profession. But, off the job, we need to be easier on ourselves,” says Shanahan.
What tweaks to your day make you feel happier? Let us know in the blog comments below. Click the links to the left of this page to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Tag us with #healthynurse.
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Ghose, T. (2015, January 27). What Facebook Addiction Looks Like in the Brain. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
Rubin, G. (2015). The Happiness Project: or, why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun. New York: Harpercollins.
Williams, F. (2017, July 06). This Is Your Brain on Nature. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
Korb, A. (2012, August 01). Smile: A Powerful Tool. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
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