Seven steps to happiness part 2 – let’s get physical

In part two of our seven steps to happiness, we explain why exercise is essential for feeling good, and share some simple ideas for getting active that you can fit into your already-packed life.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be showing you lots of different ways you can learn to stop over-thinking, find inner peace and feel happier and healthier. Last week Katie Phillips from Daring & Mighty taught you some easy but powerful breathing exercises. This week, she’s channeling a 1980s Olivia Newton John…

Let’s get physical

Being active is probably the most obvious solution to escaping your head. Exercise increases your body’s levels of dopamine (which make you feel euphoric) and endorphins (which are calming and relaxing). It gets your blood flowing and your energy moving about, rather than keeping it stuck in your head.

Exercise will help you to sleep better too – tiredness is the worst thing for worry and anxiety. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed with the same thought loop running round and round in your head, not letting you to sleep, and getting physical will help stop that.

Some ideas to help you get active

There’s all sorts of ways to get active – even if your life is already full-to-bursting with work, kids and household chores. Here are a few simple ideas you can try to get moving:

  1. Make your movement mindful – try boxing (even just punching a pillow or cushion!) to release tension and anger. Picture the person or problem that is causing you grief and punch the life out of it. It feels great!
  2. Competitive sport – take up running, swimming, cycling, climbing, hiking… you get the picture. Being competitive gives you goals to strive for, and can push you on at times you’d rather sit down with a cup of tea.
  3. Laugh – when you laugh your heart rate increases, pain and hormonal stress levels decrease and your circulatory, cardiovascular, immune and endocrine systems are all stimulated. When you’re laughing, it’s hard to focus on the tough stuff that’s making you feel low. Laughing is also a great way to feed your Inner Child who thrives on laughter. So hire a funny movie, go to a comedy club, pull some pranks, do cartwheels in the park, have a skipping race with your kids – anything to make you laugh.
  4. Dance – focus on a problem or issue that is keeping you from feeling positive and dance it out. Make sure you’re alone, put on your favourite song, turn up the volume and leap about the room. Direct all your negative thoughts into your movement – the more wild and dramatic the better. Take this as permission to go nuts! Hopefully you will be able to laugh at yourself (let’s be honest, you are likely to look pretty funny). This is an incredibly powerful technique that releases the negative energy that has built up in your head. Your problem may not magically disappear, but I guarantee you will feel less controlled by it, accompanied by a sense of relief, freedom, clarity and perspective.
  5. Play with your kids – get out in the garden with your children, kick a ball about together, climb trees, play hide-and-seek, jump on the trampoline. It will do you all good!
  6. Have sex – not only is sex fun and makes you feel great, but it also improves immunity, lowers blood pressure, burns calories and promotes sleep. Need any more reasons?!

These are just a few ideas of ways you can get moving to get happy. Some will appeal, others less so. But the important thing is to choose something that you enjoy. This is meant to be fun and it’s meant to be about connecting to authentic you.

So give yourself permission to do something just for you, that you will love and that you know will give you a break from your head. Go ahead and enjoy!

By Katie Phillips from Daring & Mighty.