Happiness

 

Happiness; what is it?  How do we define it? When do you feel happy?  Is it when you buy something you find desirable, when you’re engrossed in an activity you enjoy, when you spend time with fam

“If we take a (neuro) scientific approach, we can explore what really happens when we feel contentment, as the brain releases ‘happy’ chemicals, which affect us in different ways:

Dopamines play a role in pleasure and reward behaviourdancer
Serotonins act as a mood stabiliser and prevent depression
Endorphins possess morphine-like effects and block pain
Oxytocins provide feelings of love and trust

By understanding how these chemicals originate, we can simply stimulate our own brain to produce more of them – and elevate our level of happiness.   Happiness then is mainly dependent on us, our actions and our thoughts.  It is a conscious choice and a state of mind that can be cultivated.  The more we understand how our brain works, the more we can gain the ability to change the way we think – and feel.

We can re-wire our brains by training ourselves to be more aware of positive aspects of life with simple techniques:

Positive thinking: this not only affects our view of the world, but also can lead to more happy thoughts as the brain releases some of its supply of happy chemicals

Mindfulness exercises: these help us cope with the difficult thoughts that cause stress and anxiety

Gratitude: being thankful can reduce toxic emotions, ranging from envy and frustration to regret

Physical exercises: get moving!  It boost energy, especially outdoors as light stimulates the brain chemicals that improve mood.”

There are many approaches we can use to stimulate those happy brain chemicals.  Massage relaxes the body, turns off the brain noise and negative thought loops, relieves tension and fatigue leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated.  Indian Head Massage is especially good for releasing beneficial brain chemicals notably the endorphins that create a feeling of contentment and happiness.

I highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal; simply writing down 3 things that you are thankful for each day attracts more into your life. This simple practice has enabled me to increasingly notice just how blessed I am.

Hypnotherapy is another wonderful, beneficial practice worth investing in as it focuses on helping you regain control and choice in your life.

In the last month I have also been scheduling a weekly walk in nature with the intention of visiting places I’ve not yet been to.  Varying from woods to beaches and coves, each adventure is bringing me so much pleasure as I consciously and mindfully experience the environment.  I use all five of my senses to bring myself to the moment – taking note of what I can hear, smell, taste, see and touch.  The air feels different depending on where I am.  The sunlight trying to penetrate the places between the tree branches takes on a different effect than the low sunlight skimming the surface of the sea making it sparkle and almost dazzles the eyes.

Never underestimate the healing power, freedom and happiness you feel when blasting out your favourite music and dancing around the house like a kid.  

I choose to be happy.  Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to experience the benefits of any of the therapies I offer.

(Quotes are taken from an article featured in Breathe Magazine Issue 3 by Anne Guillot)

ily or friends?  Are you happy knowing you’re healthy or is it that you just feel unhappy when you’re unwell?  Do you know you’re happy in the moment or do you experience it when you look back at a time that brings with it feelings of happiness?  Why is it that one person’s experience of being happy can be completely different to another’s?  If we’re not happy how can we produce the feeling?

New research on chronic pain

This week’s issue of New Scientist magazine (26th November 2016) featured an article on recent research into chronic pain.  Acute pain is felt when we suddenly injure ourselves, for example stubbing your toe – OUCH!  foot and stoneChronic pain is defined as lasting more than 12 weeks and it’s estimated that 10 million people in the UK and a fifth of the world’s population experience it.  Chronic pain has been thought to be a false message transmitted to the brain the purpose of which is to prevent us doing the same thing again.

The immune system also responds to chronic pain, triggering feelings of lethargy, anxiety and depression in order to encourage us to rest and recover from the illness or injury.

Pain is perceived in the brain by those areas that are involved in learning, memory (the hippocampus) and emotion (the amygdala).  The research revealed that these areas of the brain were found to be 10-15% smaller in people who were likely to experience chronic pain and when they did, these areas of the brain shrank even more.  in fact they lost as much grey matter in one year as a healthy pain free person lost in 10 to 20 years.

Sunset and brain

We have cells in our brains called glia and some of them can stimulate inflammation.  It was found that these glia cells are more actively triggering pain sensation in people who are experiencing chronic pain.

Mindfulness was recommended in the article as a way of treating chronic pain.

“Studies so far suggest that it improves various types of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and lower back pain.  What’s more, a study of 17 people who practised mindfulness-based stress reduction found that, over time meditators experienced increases in grey matter.”Mindfulness brain

That’s great news, we have the power to increase our brain’s size by putting proven techniques into practice.  If you’d like to learn how to do this then why not get in touch and book an appointment.

 

Walk with Walnut

WalnutLast Saturday my little dog Kai and I joined hundreds of others on Porth Beach in Newquay to walk to the sea with the lovely whippet Walnut. I had seen the Facebook message on our local Newquay Facebook page that Mark, Walnut’s owner had posted and it touched my heart.Kai

He wrote: “Walk with Walnut” Sadly I am having to have Walnut euthanised on Saturday 12th November and so we will be having a last walk together on his beloved Porth Beach at 9.30am. I would love it if dog lovers/owners and friends would join us for a celebration of Walnut on his favourite Porth Beach. He has had an incredible life and having reached the grand age of 18 is ready for his final sleep. Hope to see you on Saturday.’

Mark’s simple, succinct post resonated with me and i felt i had to be a part of Walnut’s last outing least of all because I knew the pain of losing a beloved pet. The health benefits of owning a dog are well documented and they truly become a trusted member of the family. When you have to say goodbye it is devastating. When my Old English Sheepdog, Buster passed, I cried for three days.Buster the Old English Sheepdog

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dog, as was my father and both of us had a close affinity to our canine friends. I remember with great fondness a rescue dog I had called Sam. He was a great character with a unique personality. One time he went missing for nearly a week. We went searching for him every day until eventually we found him in a neighbour’s garden lying next to their dog who happened to be in season. Sam was going nowhere! He eventually came home of his own accord presumably when the lure of our neighbour’s dog had waned.

Sam the errant dogIt proved impossible to keep him at home, he would jump the fence and go off on his travels. On one occasion I was trying to catch him to take him home when to my horror he boarded our local bus. Like a madwoman I went chasing after this bus, trying to flag it down to retrieve my errant dog. The bus driver saw me, stopped and opened the door, whereupon I asked him if I could have my dog back. He proceeded to inform me that Sam was a regular commuter and would often ride the bus all the way into town and back to the terminus which was outside our home. The passengers loved his company and he would happily receive strokes and treats.

I got the chance to say goodbye to Walnut the Whippet, to take his photograph and give him a gentle stroke under his chin as I looked into his beautiful, wizened eyes. He looked tired. Mark carried him gently to the sea and lowered him into the small waves to give him his last feel of the sea before we all walked back again. It was poignant, dignified and beautiful. A day I will never forget. It has been decided to make this walk an annual event and if anyone wants to take part I can add you to the Facebook event page – just let me know. I’m honoured that one of the photographs I took of Walnut on Sunday has been used as the event header.

Porth Beach Newquay img_2833 Mark and Walnut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story of Walnut and his last walk has been documented around the world from Australia, Hong Kong and America. The community spirit of our little town has touched the hearts of thousands of people around the globe. I feel honoured to have been there.