I hope you found yesterday’s post regarding Determination, Diet, and Driving to be helpful. If you just joined this journey, be sure to take the time to go back and read from the beginning. Without delay, let’s get to it and discuss the letter “E”.
Exercise and Environment
It only seems logical that after yesterday’s mention of your diet, today we would follow up with a discussion regarding exercise. Yes, you have heard countless times in your life that you should exercise to maintain a healthy weight. But, let’s discuss some other equally important benefits.
When you experience a depressed mood, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a huge difference. Let’s talk about some of the less commonly known reactions and responses which occur throughout your body that affect your mood.
- Increased levels of serotonin – This is a neurotransmitter in the brain which is also targeted by the use of antidepressants.
- Normalized sleep – Studies suggest that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability (www.health.harvard.edu)
- Sense of accomplishment – This is the act of successfully doing or achieving something.
- Mental enrichment – This buffers the mind in how it’s going to respond to future stressors.
“Many people skip the workout at the very time it has the greatest payoff. That prevents you from noticing just how much better you feel when you exercise. Failing to exercise when you feel bad is like explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts. That’s the time you get the payoff.” (Michael Otto, PhD., a professor of psychology at Boston University)
Find a type of exercise that works best for you. Think about your schedule and time commitments, use realistic goals that are achievable, find a workout buddy for which you are accountable, and then get moving. You’ll feel better and that will help you achieve and experience more happiness in your life.
When you think of your environment, most likely you envision where you are physically at the moment. You may be sitting at your desk in an office, lounging on your couch in your living room, or even sitting in your car waiting for a friend. Wherever you are at in the moment is known as your physical environment.
Yesterday, we discussed the benefits of going for a drive. I shared with you the benefits of changing the scenery around you. However, it’s equally important to consider your social environment.
It’s true that the people around you can influence your overall mood. Specifically, I’m referring to those “toxic” people who are so unhappy and negative that they drag you down just by being around them. It’s difficult to feel happy, even cheerful when you are surrounded by the negative emotions and reactions of others. Some of these include hate, anger, pessimism, arrogance, lying, being judgmental and the perpetual act of playing the victim.
These “toxic” people are everywhere. You may live with them, work with them, supervise them, or know them socially, and they may even be your own family members. The first step in avoiding these individuals is to recognize that being around them does, in fact, impact your own mood. Try to sit back and take a very objective look at these individuals. Think about comments they make, their reactions to what you share with them, and what they share with you.
Recognizing the “toxic” in your life is half the work. Then decide which people you can separate yourself from. If you have social interactions with “toxic,” this is a good place to start. You have the ability and the right to choose your own friends. Even though it is difficult to lose a friend, by your own decision or theirs, it’s important to focus on how that friendship is affecting you.
As difficult as it may be, you can always make new friends. Yes, it takes time and may require a lot of effort on your part. But, the rewards are endless. Stay focused on the many benefits of surrounding yourself with people who are upbeat and positive and who contribute to the friendship, rather than draining it dry.
We all have people in our life that we can’t remove so easily, such as family members. This is a more difficult situation, for sure. I know because I have been there myself. Even though you may not be able to eliminate these people from your life, you can still make these situations better.
Think about what you can change. You can change the frequency of visits, phone calls, and types of interactions. You can change what topics are discussed. You can change the time of day and how many days you spend with them. You can change where you meet them for visits. You can also ask someone to go with you to help manage the conversation and to be supportive.
There are so many different things you can do to help alleviate the negative effects from “toxic people” in your life. You have to first decide you are going to do it. Then, make a plan, talk to a supportive person in your life, and go for it. Your happiness is definitely affected by those around you. Don’t let others decide your happiness. You’re in charge.
As we continue this journey together, I encourage you to keep reading. If you have yet to find your own how or why to happiness, I strongly believe you will. Please come back tomorrow as we explore the letter “F”.