What do you do when you’re feeling low and want a quick boost? A recent university study tested 3 different methods for finding relief. They found a solution that costs nothing and delivers results in 12 minutes or less.
Researchers at Iowa State University asked college students to walk around campus practicing specific mental techniques that were later compared. The options were loving kindness, interconnectedness, and downward social comparison.
Loving kindness turned out to be the clear winner. If you’re looking for a safe and effective pick-me-up without any calories, try these strategies for yourself.
Practicing Loving Kindness:
The happiest students were those who looked at others and wished for them to be happy. You can keep it that simple or build on that foundation.
- Slow down. Start by focusing on your breath. Find a comfortable position and breathe slowly and deeply. Put your hand on your heart and think about feeling relaxed and cared for.
- Chant something. Put your friendly wishes into your own words. Invent a few phrases that are meaningful for you. You might find inspiration in your favorite prayers or song lyrics.
- Extend your reach. Start out with close family and friends you already feel affection for. Try to generate similar feelings for acquaintances and strangers. With enough practice, you may discover that you want peace and joy even for those you find difficult.
- Begin now. If you’re wondering if you have to cherish everyone before this method will work, you can relax. The Iowa study found that loving kindness was effective for a wide range of personality types.
Students who focused on what they had in common with others felt a bit more connected. Develop your own habits to fight loneliness.
- Express gratitude. Look for the positive qualities in others. Think about how they enrich your life. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
- Cultivate compassion. If blaming others seems automatic, pause and change your perspective. Put yourself in the position of someone who cut you off in traffic. Recognize that you probably do the same thing sometimes.
- Deepen your conversations. Dare to be vulnerable so others can get to know you. Talk about your hopes and beliefs.
- Share your interests. Group activities also help us to become more familiar with each other. Join a Meetup group or start one of your own. Sign up for a class or play team sports.
- Connect with yourself. Your relationship with yourself matters too. You’ll be more successful at making friends if you can enjoy your own company. Develop a hobby you can do on your own. Take a quiet walk just to enjoy the scenery.
Practicing Downward Social Comparison:
The students who thought about how they were more fortunate than others didn’t seem to experience any benefits. The researchers warned that competitive mindsets can be stressful.
- Increase your awareness. You may not realize how often you judge yourself and others. Pay attention to your self-talk and challenge yourself to be more accepting.
- Seek contentment. List the blessings in your life and be grateful for them. Be at peace with what you have instead of grasping for more.
- Limit social media. The internet has made comparisons too easy now that you can see others posting about their exotic vacations and gifted children day and night. Take pleasure in your own family life and stay off Facebook if you tend to feel inferior.
If you’re searching for happiness, wish for others to be happy. Incorporating loving kindness into your daily routines will help to protect you from depression and anxiety. Your relationships will grow stronger, and you’ll enjoy life more.