by Jessica Smith
Feeling blue? Put some pep in your step with these tips--you're just seconds away from a healthier, happier you!
1. Have a (very quick) quickie! Relive the high you felt as a teen and make out with your sweetie like high schoolers to increase happiness. "There are more nerve endings in the lips, tongue, and tip of the nose than any other part of the body except for the fingertips and toes," says Lynn Anderson, Ph.D., creator of Aero*boga™. "When we kiss, the body creates an electrical charge of oxytocin-the hormone that makes us feel good-boosts our immune system, and can burn up to 10 calories all in less than two minutes!
2. Go ahead and stare: Looking at something awe-inspiring such as the Grand Canyon for a few seconds is enough to help you feel happier and even enhance your quality of life, says a recent study from Stanford University. Students who watched a 60-second commercial featuring images including space exploration, waterfalls, and whales felt they had more time to get things done afterward. Researchers believe that these types of images make us feel more present, expanding our sense of time, which can lead to greater feelings of contentment and happiness.
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3. Give a little (puppy) love: Studies show that the simple, brief act of petting your dog can help lower your heart rate, decrease your body's cortisol levels, and increase your feel-good oxytocin levels. And you can double the health benefits of playing with your pup by adding exercise. Try any of these moves for a quick partner workout with your pooch. Don't have a Rover? No problem! Grab a stuffed animal. One study found that even just petting a stuffed dog can help boost your immune system.
4. Show some teeth:
"Not only does smiling enhance your attractiveness, it may also boost your mood in the short term and has positive effects on your environment," says Aditi Nerurkar, M.D., M.P.H., an integrative medicine physician at Harvard Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. And, according to one study conducted by researchers at the University of Kansas, it may also be especially healthy to beam if you are under stress. When subjects smiled during anxiety-inducing activities such as submerging their hands in ice water, their heart rates dropped faster afterward compared to participants who were instructed not to smile. "Grin and bear it" may be a helpful coping mechanism for stressful situations, study authors say.
5. Sip some spinach: Eat a cup of vegetables, preferably before 10 a.m, recommends weight-loss specialist and endocrinologist Scott Isaacs. The fiber helps you stay fuller longer, while the antioxidants control inflammation, he says. "Think of it as taking a vitamin or supplement instead of being part of your diet-you can just wolf them down in a few bites."
A super easy way to do this is by tossing a cup of fresh spinach (keep it in the freezer to make it last longer) into your breakfast smoothie. You won't taste it, and you can count one serving of veggies off your list for the day. If you just can't bear the thought of eating vegetables that early, Dr. Issacs says a serving of fruit works, though he notes that most people fall short in their vegetable intake, not their fruit consumption.
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6. Jump around: Instead of reaching for an energy drink when you need some pep, work on your hops, recommends Stacy Mobley, M.P.H., a naturopathic doctor specializing in women's health. Do at least 15 seconds of jumping jacks for a natural energy boost that won't lead to jitters or a crash.