Happy Happy Joy Joy

It’s the time of the year for happiness and joy, but maybe you’re just not feeling it?

Perhaps you’re stressed about family, finance, or work? If you are, know that you are not alone. NPR did a feature last yearopens a new window and reported almost half of their respondents were feeling some kind of stress in their life.

And a recent survey done by the American Psychological Associationopens a new window reported that 72% of their poll respondents were feeling financial stress in the past month.

What to do? Check out resources from the library!

Spontaneous Happiness

I recently finished listening to Spontaneous Happiness by Dr. Andrew Weil and learned some great tips to help combat stress. I think one of the most practical things described in the book that anyone can do at any time is a breathing exercise which he calls the 4-7-8 breath (p 146-7). Here’s how you do it:

  1. Place the tip of the tongue against the ridge behind and above the front teeth. Keep it there through the whole exercise.
  1. Exhale completely through the mouth (and puckered lips), making a whoosh sound.
  1. Close the mouth and inhale deeply and quietly through the nose to a (silent) count of 4.
  1. Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  1. Exhale through the mouth to a count of 8, making the same sound.
  1. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 for a total of four breaths.

Another method for combating stress is laughter.  He describes laughter clubs, where people join together for the sole purpose of laughing together. “Regular participation in laughter clubs has been shown to improve long-term emotional and physical health in a variety of ways, including a significant lowering of the stress hormone cortisol” (p 186).

Dr. Weil also has a section on the importance of gratitude. He states that “the point of practicing both feeling and expressing gratitude is to change your perspective.”  By becoming aware of what one has to be grateful for, one will find more in life for which one is grateful (193).

To find more library resources on happiness and gratitude, check out this listopens a new window.

Also check out the article on MedLine Plus about stressopens a new window which has links to more information.