Hola Amigos! (Hello Friends!)
In my other blog post “8 Scientifically Proven Practices Of Wellbeing. I Proved They Work & You Can Too” I touched on the 8 ways (practices) of Wellbeing proven in science to make us happier and healthier.
I also mentioned the course I took by Prof. Laurie Santos online through Yale University (Coursera) The Science of Wellbeing. The course covered the following 8 ways (practices) and the science behind them. After measuring our happiness levels before and after the course, my happiness levels improved in just 10 weeks. Putting into practice and implementing the different practices each week. While also focusing on one over 4 weeks by practicing it each day and tracking it. I chose Meditation and what was most significant was that my level of loneliness improved a great deal.
Let’s look at each a little bit more, an overview of what they are and why they are so good for us.
Social Connection is one of our core needs and something we need as much as food and water and is proven to significantly impact our health. The importance of social connection is basically why I started The Konnection Club as I had been learning through my own observations and experience of working behind a computer for years how important it is to feel connected socially.
This became evident throughout the pandemic. I was living alone during the lockdown so made sure I spoke to someone every day which was essential for me to feel connected to people still. However there is no doubt everyone struggled being physically disconnected from family, loved ones, friends, social groups and our social connections throughout the pandemic.
Our success is also directly related to our social connections. Being part of the group or tribe was inherent to our survival and has been wired into our brains throughout evolution. Humans are a very social and successful species.
I recently watched a Ted Talk on Sleep called “Sleep is Your Superpower” by sleep scientist Prof. Matt Walker from the University of California Berkley, definitely a must watch. While I’ve always known how important sleep is I like most people wasn’t always getting enough. It’s been the past 41/2 years I’ve experienced my own brain going through a healing and it happened when I was asleep.
I had my first panic attack in the middle of the night and went to hospital in an ambulance. Subsequently the healing has happened in the night if I didn’t wake up having a panic attack I would wake up to my brain releasing the stress / anxiety or energy and it leaving my body it’s honestly the only way I can describe it. I know this to be true as it’s been happening ever since my first panic attack. My brain has gone through a major physical and mental healing with sleep, good nutrition and exercise and many of these other practices of Wellbeing but mainly sleep.
After watching this very interesting Ted talk I make more of an effort to get a full nights sleep as even 1 less hour a night over time can impact our health in negative ways. A lack of sleep affects us all the way to our DNA and is fast becoming an epidemic of its own in society. Our body rejuvenates, removes toxins and heals during sleep.
The benefits of exercise are probably the most known about when it comes to our Wellbeing. Probably as we learn about it in school. Phys Ed was my favourite subject at school I loved learning about the human body and have tried to keep learning ever since school. I think we all understand how important it is and it’s positive benefits. This was evident during the lockdown when everyone cherished the time we were able to get out and walk and exercise, not just for our bodies but our mind as well.
Exercise is now being seen as a medicine for the positive impact it can have on the likes of cancer patients as they go through treatments. There are national programs now that incorporate exercise programs with trained exercise physiologists that coincide with patients treatment plans. Research has shown there are many benefits for the patients and shows the significance and importance of exercise.
I am currently studying and undertaking a 3 month training program called 10x backed by years of research I’ve just started and I’m really excited about it. It is about optimising and reducing time in the gym with targeted strength circuit training that improves strength and positively impacts health in many difference ways. Strength training is essential to do as over time we lose muscle mass and strength which is known as sarcopenia. Strength training can reduce the effects and allow us to remain strong, active and mobile. I will discuss this further in other posts dedicated to exercise as it’s one of my favourite topics.
Giving to others is scientifically proven to make us happier. Acts of kindess are backed by research to improve our happiness, feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing. Nerotransmitters in the brain are relased when being kind and light up the reward centres in the brain. It can increase love hormones, energy and longevity, while reducing stress, pain and blood pressure. You can check out the randomactsofkindness.org website to learn more about the Science of Kindness and become a RAKtivist or join the global community of kindess.
I had never heard of this until the Science of Wellbeing course. Savouring is really about savouring our experiences which enhances our positive mood by stepping outside really appreciating them. Being present in the moment enjoying the live concert of your favourite band or the delicious gelato you just brought and are now savouring with positive feelings.
The savouring can be enhanced by sharing it with someone, taking a souvenir of the experience like a photo, perhaps why we love our phone cameras so much! Research has shown that our experiences provide us with greater happiness for longer as opposed to stuff.
Practicing and specifically writing down a few things we are grateful for each day (10 mins) and staying present and feeling gratitude has benefits to our Wellbeing, with research supporting the fact it can make us happier. You can go to the homepage of my website to see my practice of gratitude I call Kafe Gratitude. A practice I made up as I love Cafe’s and hot drinks so I practice my gratitude with my first cup of coffee each day.
I always thought it was a bit of a strange thing to do when I first heard about being grateful however after my panic attacks I started and it was a great habit for me to get into. It kept me present and it was surprising to me how much it gave me a sense of wellbeing the more I did it. Now this is one habit I really make time for each day, just a few minutes a day.
Using Your Signature Strengths
Do you know what your signature strengths are? I didn’t until I took The Science Of Wellbeing course. We all have signature strengths and if we use our top ones more often or even work in a job where we are using them it increases our Wellbeing.
The VIA Institute on Character in the USA is online and is bringing the science of character strengths to the world. You can go online and take the free assessment to know your signature strengths. There are 24 according and after the test you get a report that explains them and how you did in the test. I found this to be super interesting and all backed by science. Knowing them and implementing them has a range of benefits that impact the work we do, stress, confidence, goals and relationships.
Meditation is a big one. Giving us the ability to be in the present moment and quieting the mind. I’ve long benefited from Meditation it has been something that has made a huge impact to my Wellbeing. Having suffered grief as a young child and adult I started learning about Meditation and listening to meditations each day. Living with a stressed out brain and suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for the past 41/2 years it has been something I have continued each day to help relax and calm my mind. Meditation is proven in science to reduce anxiety, stress and even blood pressure.
During the Science of Wellbeing course I chose meditation as my practice to implement and track over 4 weeks and and then take the tests we had taken at the beginning of the course which tracked our baseline happiness levels. My levels improved in all areas but one of the biggest improvements was in my level of loneliness. This blew me away to think that in such a short time these scores improved. This is huge if we look at it more broadly for society.
We are getting set up to go deeper in all these 8 areas, which is going to get even more interesting.
While I also consider Nutrition and Mindset to be two other areas that should be included.
I will be giving them lots of attention in other posts as well.
For the purpose of the course I took let’s just keep these 8 practices of Wellbeing in mind as we discover and discuss how great they are for us and the ways we can maximise their benefits.
While you don’t have to do every single one perfectly every day. I think if you a pick a few and do them really well you will be on your way to more Wellbeing.