days in a row on a science-backed happiness practice . Set up a meeting at the beginning and then set a meeting in 20 days ( when the habit has gelled ) to see how it affected your people .
What are your options for the challenge ? There are lots but I ’ ll lay out three of the simplest ones :
l 1 . 20-minute nature walks Do you suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder ( NDD )? I do . We all do ! We are all becoming addicted to our phones . We need to take more breaks and get outside .
Pennsylvania State researchers reported in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology that the more physically active people are , the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm . The American Psychosomatic Society published a study showing how Michael Babyak and a team of esearchers found three 20-minute brisk walks improve recovery from clinical depression . Yes , clinical depression . Results were stronger than those from studies using medication or studies using exercise and medication combined .
And why nature ? Less keyboards . Less screens . More fresh air . More perspective . More reflection . And , as if that wasn ’ t enough , it turns out trees release a chemical called phytoncides which are actually shown to help reduce
cortisol levels . Other benefits ? Lower blood pressure , greater activity of parasympathetic nerves that promote relaxation , and a reduced activity of sympathetic nerves associated with “ fight or flight ” reactions to stress .
l 2 . 20 minutes of journaling Writing for twenty minutes about positive experiences you had during the day dramatically improves happiness . Why ? Because you actually relive the experience as you ’ re writing it and then relive it every time you read it . Your brain sends you back . In a University of Texas study called “ How Do I Love Thee ? Let Me Count the Words ,” researchers Richard Slatcher and James Pennebaker had one member of a couple write about their relationship for twenty minutes three times a day . Compared to the test group , the couple was more likely to engage in intimate dialogue afterward , and the relationship was more likely to last .
l 3 . 20 minutes of reading There ’ s a Game of Thrones quote I love that says : “ The man who reads lives a thousand lives before he dies … the man who never reads lives only one .”
We need to read books — real books on real paper — more than ever before . We spent over five hours a day on our cellphones right now . In a world of endless dings and pings we need to get back to single-tasking .
A study published in the Annual Review of Psychology showed that reading triggers our mirror neurons and opens up the parts of our brain responsible for developing
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42 PULSE n NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2022