No wonder so many of us are anxious or depressed. You can take scientifically validated steps to improve your mental outlook, and because the mind and body are entwined these behaviors also will improve your overall health.
Practice Optimism: Now, let's get real, Being an optimist doesn't mean you ignore the stress of daily life. Who can do that? It simply means that when crummy things happen, you don't blame yourself unnecessarily. If you face a challenge or obstacle, you're more likely to see it as temporary or even positive, allowing you to learn and grow.
Optimists also believe they have control over their fate and can create opportunities for good things to happen.
Start volunteering: Studies have shown that putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return, or what is called being altruistic, stimulates the reward centers of the brain. Those feel-good chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of "helper's high." There are physical benefits, too: Studies show volunteering minimizes stress and improves depression. It can reduce the risk for cognitive impairment. It can even help us live longer.
Even if you have little time to offer, just the act of giving has been shown to improve our health, possibly by temporarily reducing our sense of pain.
Strengthen your social connections: "People who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they're physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected," said Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger in his popular TEDx talk.
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