Still torturing yourself over that fight with your sister or your benign blunder at the office last week? It's understandable, but when you beat yourself up over the past, you're sucking your energy dry too.
"Regret is experienced as a major loss," says Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, PhD, chair of the department of psychology at Yale University, "causing us to shut down psychologically and physically. That leads to fatigue and a loss of motivation--in other words, feeling drained." Feelings of remorse can also cause your blood pressure to go up, and that translates into a bona fide loss of steam.
Put your regrets in context. A 2011 study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people who compared themselves with those whose lives appeared harder than their own were happier and reported fewer symptoms of being worn down--including suffering from the common cold.
Take A Leap
There's a reason we jump for joy. Not only does this simple gravity-defying game get our heart rate up quickly, pumping oxygen throughout our bodies, but it also seems to have a positive effect on the mind. "Jumping as if you've won something or even bouncing on your bed a few times can help jolt your energy," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. "You're stirring up childhood enthusiasm, allowing yourself to feel a little silly, and breaking up the monotony of the day." All these things can trigger the release of feel-good endorphins, which have been associated with more verve--and a better state of mind.
Part of the secret of jumping is to indulge at unexpected moments--like at the watercooler. Another option: Let yourself dance with excitement when your favorite song comes on your iPod. Goofy? Maybe. But it feels great!
Embrace Your Social Network
From answering e-mails to fielding instant messages, keeping up online can sap your joie de vivre and drag you down. But new research reveals that the Internet has a cuddly side too. Scientists have shown that when we're around loved ones, we release a chemical called oxytocin that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. Turns out, this happens when we interact with friends on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter too.
According to Paul Zak, PhD, director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, even a few minutes on one of these sites should do the trick. And fear not: If new technology leaves you in the dark, you can reap the same benefits with a simple phone call to a friend.
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