10 Habits Proven to Make Moms Happier

10 Habits Proven to Make Moms Happier

Research-proven habits you can adopt to feel happier beginning today.

By: Maressa Brown

Stress, a rainy day, or even just kissing your kiddos goodbye at the bus stop can take a toll on your mood, leaving you feeling blue or simply burned out. The truth is that we all find ourselves in a funk from time to time. The good news: There are a variety of lifestyle habits scientifically shown to lift your mood and keep it up. Here are 10 habits proven to make moms happier, according to experts and researchers.

1. Be mindful. “Mindfulness inspires new skill sets that quiet the mind, raise our level of consciousness, produce increased awareness, and foster health,” notes inspirational and motivational speaker Joan Moran. “The practice of mindfulness has been proven to alter the molecular structure of the brain, making us healthier and happier.” Easy ways to be more mindful include focusing on the flow of your breath and trying to take note of the sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel of even the most mundane moments in life (like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast).

2. Practice forgiveness. “Drop grudges against others and shame towards yourself,” recommends psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, author of the upcoming book Better Than Perfect. “You can’t change the past, but you can change how you interpret what happened. And that can dramatically shift your mood.” Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, confirms this in her book: Forgiving people are more likely to be happier, healthier, more agreeable, and more serene.”

3. Take a mom recess. We often get so caught up in the work of being parents and adults that we forget we’re entitled to timeouts, too! “Recess is not just for kids anymore,” says Lombardo. “If you have fun (think checking out a great flick or getting a mani/pedi), you are happier and more effective at whatever you do. Sure, you might not be able to do it every day, but even having one event scheduled each week will help you feel good.”

4. Strive for gratitude. Research continues to show time and again that being more thankful boosts happiness. In fact, one study done by psychology expert Robert A. Emmons, PhD, showed that people who expressed gratitude felt 25 percent happier, were more optimistic about the future, and felt better about their lives.

5. Run. Or pick up whatever heart rate-boosting routine you enjoy most. “There are piles of evidence linking both cardiovascular exercise and time outdoors to overall happiness, which is why I believe running to be an essential happiness practice for moms,” says Carrie Roldan, author of Run Yourself Happy. “Running can become meditation in motion, and when approached as a self-care practice rather than a body-punishing workout, a daily run can be incredibly therapeutic.”

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6. Cultivate your relationships. “Take time to keep dating your husband -- even if just a 30-minute walk or a late dinner once a week -- and keep close with girlfriends,” advises Lombardo. “Social relationships help boost happiness.” Research proves friendships are powerful for mood boosting: People who had more than six friends they saw regularly were significantly happier than their peers in a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

7. Get your Zs. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that sleep affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. At the same time, research out of the University of Surrey's Sleep Research Centre found that just one extra hour of sleep per night could decrease activity in genes associated with inflammation, diabetes, cancer risk, and stress response.

8. Meditate. It may or may not be for you, but the research on meditation shows it really does improve mood in a big way. One study demonstrated that after only eight weeks of meditating for approximately one hour each day, six days a week, test subjects reported they had become happier.

9. Spend time outdoors. Being around nature helps keep stress levels low while bolstering contentment and mental health. Residents who lived closer to trees, grass, or flowers had less stress, anxiety, and depression than those with less greenery around, in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. But simply picking up and going for a walk in a nearby park on a regular basis can help too!

10. Smile. People who smile regularly are more likely to be happy. Research conducted by psychologist David Lewis, the author of The Secret Language of Success, found that just one smile can provide the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars. Awesome!

Which of these habits are you striving to pick up?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/skynesher

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