• Jennifer Klesman, LCSW

Take Control Over Your Own Happiness

With the way life tends to unfold, it doesn’t always feel like you have control over your own happiness. It can sometimes feel like life happens to you rather than being able to take the wheel and guide where your life is going. This concept may feel a bit foreign because if you have control then why are you unhappy? So much of your mindset can explain why you don’t grab the reins to your own happiness. It becomes easy to settle, not believe it can get better, or be put off by the effort it takes to improve your life.

Taking control of your own happiness doesn’t have to be a massive uphill battle. You can do small things every day to implement positive behaviors to improve your mood. Here are a few simple things that can get you feeling more positive:

See a professional

Yes, therapy can be expensive and time consuming, but it is an investment in yourself and your happiness. Talking to a non-bias professional can give insight to your behavior patterns to help you better understand what is keeping you down. Therapy can help you make cognitive and behavioral changes to improve your overall quality of life.

Just start talking

So maybe you don’t have the funds or time to seek out professional help. Then turn to your support system. Turn to the people who know you and be open with them about your emotional struggles. While some people may not know what to say, reassure them that just listening can go a long way. Also, just getting out and doing things with people can greatly improve your mood, especially when it is with people you trust and care about.

Look into medication

Medication isn’t for everyone and certainly isn’t a quick fix to long standing issues, but it can get you moving. Depression affects your day to day functioning including your sleep, memory, motivation, and overall mood. To improve any of those aspects can do a great deal of good and make the days less of a struggle.

Start moving and exercise

This isn’t referring to extreme exercise routines, just find any sort of movement that works for you. Going for a daily walk, spending 15 minutes lifting weights, or biking to work - all of these go a long way to get your body moving and feeling better. When we spend too much time not moving, it can reinforce depressed behavior and directly affect your mood.

Get better sleep

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of your life that gets the least amount of credit. To not have slept well will completely disrupt your day. You don’t have the energy to overcome even basic tasks and challenges without a good night's sleep. Medication, vitamins like melatonin, and proper sleep hygiene can help you feel more rested which will improve your mood.

Consider the impact of drinking and smoking

Drinking alcohol is so culturally normalized that it is easy to forget it is a depressant. Drinking will often leave you feeling worse, and can aid in avoidance behavior, which will always lead to low mood. Similarly, marijuana and cigarettes can be avoidance tools, and can have negative impacts on mood. If you drink or smoke, take a moment to consider its impact on your mood so you can empower yourself to make changes if necessary.

Remove yourself from people and places you don’t like

As an adult, you have a say in who you allow into your life and give your time to, so choose wisely. Your time is limited so start investing it into people and places that improve your energy rather than drain it. Consider setting boundaries with unhealthy people or decreasing the time you spend around them. Conversely, encourage yourself to reach out to people who build you up and spend more time with them.

If you are considering making any of these change you have already taken the first step towards increasing your happiness. Take your time and see what works for you, happiness does not develop overnight.

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