‘Shopping is cheaper than therapy‘ > This was one of the headlines from this week’s newspapers, which judging by most wives’ shopping bills is undoubtedly untrue. Their ‘add to cart’ kind of day is a very expensive therapy!
Too much of the feel-good advice we are given is based on huge dollops of wishful thinking – such as ‘chocolate is the best therapy ever’. Now this is undoubtedly true, except that the resulting surge in pleasure is short-lived while the consequences are the opposite.
There are as many ways to improve your health and increase your positive emotions as there are editions of the Daily Mail. “The problem is that everyone is different so there is no one size fits all therapy“, explains a Tonic therapist. “It comes down to experimentation, which as long as what you are doing is cheap and safe, can be great fun in itself. Experiment, don’t take it too serious and enjoy yourself – even if it doesn’t work you will have something fun to laugh about with your friends“.
Here is just a tiny selection of the free and easy therapies which are trending this week …
The well-known ‘Three Blessings Exercise‘ is based on the simple discipline of keeping a diary. At the end of the day, write down three things, however trivial, that made a positive impact on you and why. A purchase, a smile, a beautiful sunrise, a compliment, a smell or anything that lightened your day. Experiencing and savouring the moment is a powerful way of connecting with your inner self in a positive way. But you will need determination and commitment to succeed so don’t expect instant results.
Next up is loving-kindness meditation. The idea here is to increase micro-moments of love in your life, including compassion towards yourself. Advocates claim that it increases your overall wellbeing, while by embracing self-compassion you can learn to love and support yourself.
This approach is similar to mindfulness which has been covered many times in this blog, but it is worth emphasising once again that you can train your brain to think positive. Once again it takes dedication but the commitment is well worth the effort.
However, an easier variation to implement is mindfulness of breath. Breathing is something you do so naturally that you are no longer aware of how good it feels. By bringing your focus intentionally onto the breath you can ground ourselves in what is happening right now. You can practice observing without reacting, experiencing each breath as it happens *.
A therapy back in fashion is reframing. The concept here is that how you interpret the world around you has an influence on your subjective well-being. Developing skills to deal with adversity helps you become more resilient and positive. Creating positive experiences, especially when sharing them with others, also can have a lasting impact on your emotions. Helping others makes us happy, and indeed, even random acts of kindness are an easy and fulfilling way to bring such positive emotions into your life. There are all sorts of random acts of kindness you can try, so experiment and have fun!
Finally, consider that your body language shapes who you are. As your posture affects our emotions, if you understand how to improve your body language, then you can decrease your cortisol, increase your testosterone and feel more confident.
But what the heck! If you don’t want to phone Tonic then eat chocolate now before the manufacturers make their bars even smaller.
Footnote on mindfulness of breath * Sit or lie in a comfortable position. It does not matter if your eyes are open or closed, though if you are feeling tired it is useful not to sit in a totally dark room. Begin by gently moving your attention onto the process of breathing. Notice the sensations of each breath as it happens, whether you focus on the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen, or on the feeling of the breath at the nostrils. Really feel what it is like to breathe, just observing it as it happens. As you engage in this exercise you may find that your mind wanders, caught by thoughts or by noises in the room, or bodily sensations. When you notice that this happens, know that this is fine – simply notice the distraction and gently bring your attention back to the breath.
Ending the exercise. Take a few moments to yourself, connecting with your experience in the present moment. Expand your awareness from the breath into the space around you, and as you feel comfortable to do so, opening your eyes and bringing the exercise to a close.