According to The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, a 2015 book by neuroscientist Alex Korb, there are things you can do everyday to rewire your brain for happiness. Depression is a complex mental health issue that the National Institute of Mental Health estimates has affected 16.2 million adults in the United States. It’s widely accepted that there isn’t one method or cure to help with depression, but Korb believes there are tons of rituals that may help alter brain activity and chemistry in a positive way.
Asking yourself “what am I grateful for?” is a powerful way to force the brain to produce dopamine and boost serotonin, says Korb. Plus, expressing gratitude makes for more positive, stronger relationships, which increase happiness.
Korb also recommends labeling negative feelings. Giving a name to your sadness, anger, jealousy, anxiety is a good way to acknowledge the existence of these feelings, which is the first step to working with them in a healthy way. Suppressing negative feelings will only overwhelm you when they inevitably come up.
Another reason daily life can be so stressful is the sheer number of choices we’re faced with. From menial chores, to the stuff that really weighs down on you, it can be tempting to put some decisions off. This is only a short term fix and will likely only add to your anxiety levels. That’s why just making a decision, even if it might not be the absolute best option, can lift a load off your shoulders.
You should also touch people (appropriately), according to Korb. Physical touch in friendly or romantic relationships boosts oxytocin and makes for stronger feelings of connectedness. Hugs are especially powerful.