Positive Psychology Exercises Increase Happiness In People Recovering From Substance Use

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Positive psychology,Positive psychology exercises,Substance abuse
The study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, examined whether positive psychology exercises increase happiness in people recovering from substance use.(Shutterstock)

Self-administered exercises can significantly boost in-the-moment happiness for adults recovering from substance use disorders, suggests a recent study.

The study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, examined whether positive psychology exercises increase happiness in people recovering from substance use.

“Addiction scientists are increasingly moving beyond the traditional focus on reducing or eliminating substance use by advocating treatment protocols that encompass quality of life. Yet orchestrated positive experiences are rarely incorporated into treatment for those with substance use disorders,” said Bettina B. Hoeppner, lead author of the study.

As part of the study, the authors noted that effectiveness of positive psychology exercises may be promising tools for bolstering happiness during treatment and may help support long-term recovery.

According to lead researchers, the study underlines the importance of offsetting the challenges of recovery with positive experiences. Recovery is hard, and for the effort to be sustainable, positive experiences need to be attainable along the way.

9 Unexpected Things That Are Good For Your Mental Health

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There are so many conventional ways to improve your mental health, such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and seeing a therapist — among other important things. But it never hurts to add in a few habits that are “outside the box,” as a way to take your mental health in an even more positive direction.

“If we are only doing the same things we usually do, with the same point of view, it’s harder to emerge out of depression or release anxiety,” therapist Rev. Connie L. Habash MA, LMFT, tells Bustle. “Sometimes, the best thing to create positive shifts in our mood is to get out of our ingrained habits and try new things.”

That’s not to say you should stop what you’re already doing, especially if it’s working, or if it’s part of a plan designed by your therapist. But you might want to consider adding to your overall mental health routine, in a few small ways. This might include trying new foods, getting dirty, or doing something unconventional, such as jumping on your bed.

“These kind of practices help us step out of the mold, have new experiences, and change our mindset,” Habash says. Anything that’s fun, new, or even slightly uncomfortable, like the things listed below, can be a great supplement to your daily life. And experts say it can even be good for your mental health.

Jump On The Bed

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“Many of us have lost connection with the playful part of ourselves,” Habash says. “We all have an inner child that wants to be silly and spontaneous.” So ask yourself, when was the last time you jumped on the bed?

In some small way, doing fun things like this can help break you out of your usual routine, since you’ll be shaking off your stressful adult life for a while. You can also try riding a bike, playing a game in the park, drawing — the list is endless.

“This is how we access joy,” Habash says. “It’s almost certain to lift your mood.”

Give Your Bathroom A Thorough Scrub

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When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, sometimes nothing’s more relaxing than getting down on your hands and knees, and scrubbing around the toilet.

“The bathroom is a small and contained space, so it’s not an overwhelming room to clean and the benefits are amazing,” therapist Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, tells Bustle. “Yes, it’s gross to clean toilets sometimes and yes, you will be amazed at the grime that comes off of the bottom of your sink or the shelves in your bathroom, but the feeling of completing it and the feeling of seeing a clean bathroom will help with your mental health and your mood.”

Apply A Mud Mask


If you have a go-to skincare routine, it may be beneficial to try something new — and possibly even add in some mud — in order to reap a few benefits.

“Applying a mud treatment on your skin certainly improves your mental health,” licensed psychotherapist Adamaris Mendoza, LPC, MA, tells Bustle. “It relieves muscle and joint aches and pains, helps […] improve circulation, relaxes you, and relieves stress.”

Applying a mud mask at home can be super relaxing, as can simply soaking in a hot bath — especially if you’ve been feeling sore, stressed, or depressed. As Mendoza says, “When your body is operating efficiently you feel good and your mood is enhanced.” And taking time for self-care doesn’t hurt, either.

Eat Something New


Everyone’s different when it comes to how they feel about trying new foods. “The texture of some foods can be off- putting,” Mendoza says, “but [many are] packed with amazing benefits.”

Take mussels and oysters, for example. “Mussels contain a high level of vitamin B-12, which has been found to positively affect mood and other brain functions,” she says. “Oysters are high in zinc, a nutrient that helps ease anxiety and also improve sleep the quality of your sleep.”

But even the act of trying a new food, whether it has a weird texture or not, can be beneficial. “Waking up our taste buds to foods we don’t normally eat can be invigorating to our senses and help us out of [a rut],” therapist Shannon Thomas, LCSW, tells Bustle.

Sing In Public

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If the idea of singing in public terrifies you, then it may be exactly what you need to do. “It may sound counterintuitive, but singing in public is one way for people whostruggle with social anxiety to work on feeling more relaxed around others,” Matt Smith, licensed therapist at Modern Era Counseling, tells Bustle. “This is basically aform of exposure therapy, so the more embarrassing the song the better.”

You can start off by humming, just to get a feel for it. Then work up to bigger songs as your confidence grows. “Singing in public forces you to confront your specific fear — others judging you, public humiliation, etc. — and in the process retrains your brain to stop firing up its built-in fear response in the absence of actual danger,” Smith says. Over time, you might even start to think it’s fun.

Hold A Big Rock


While it might sound strange, holding something natural in your hands — like a rock — can be quite relaxing. “When you’re feeling anxious, agitated, like you’re spinning around and overloaded with stress, you probably need to get grounded,” Habash says. “A great way to do this is to find a large river rock, or any kind of sizable stone.”

Maybe you pick one up on a hike, or find one in the local park. “Hold it in your hands or lap, and feel its weight,” she says. “Let all the stresses and agitation be pulled down into the earth and release them. You, as the solid and steady rock, remain more calm and peaceful.”

Scream Into A Pillow

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If you’ve been bottling up your emotions, there’s a good chance you’ll find it quite therapeutic to scream into a pillow.

“Being able to express that pent up emotion is important in working through it,” Jovica Grey, licensed mental health counselor and founder of Grey’s Counseling Services, tells Bustle. “Screaming into a pillow helps to release that pent up emotion by allowing [you] to express it in a less harmful way.”

Of course, it’s also OK to share those emotions with others, or vent it all to a therapist. But sometimes you just need a moment alone, and that’s when a pillow scream can come in handy.

Skip Your Shower

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If you have a strict morning routine that includes taking a shower, try skipping it one day as a way of changing things up — just see how it feels.

“Sometimes not going through the motions of our normal hygiene routine can be helpful to our mental health,” Thomas says.

It’s all about allowing yourself the freedom to do something different, which can give you a break from your everyday routine. And that, Thomas says, can be good for your mental health.

Sweat It Out

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Sweating is a great way to boost your overall wellbeing, whether it’s by exercising, going outside on a warm day, or sitting in a sauna. Saunas, for instance, may leave you drenched in sweat. But the benefits are pretty amazing.

As Wright says, saunas have been shown to help with sleep, anger management, and even depression. So if you can track one down — possibly at a gym or spa — it may be worth it.

“Even if you’re in therapy, these things can supplement the work you’re doing because their more action-oriented,” Wright says. “Plus, some people just like to do things outside of the box.”

If you find that any of these tips boost your mood, or help improve your overall mental health, don’t be ashamed to do them more often — however odd they may seem.

Positive Thinking Can Help Your Health Later In Life, According To A Recent Study

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Life sure can have its ups and downs, but it looks like maintaining a strong sense of optimism could actually benefit your health in the longterm. According to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), positive thinking can help your health in your later years. Who knows — positive thinking could just be the key to immortality. I’m kidding, of course (or am I?)

The study, conducted by Professor Andrew Steptoe and Dr Daisy Fancourt, analysed data collated between 2012 and 2016 from over 7,000 adults over the age of 50 as part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), as described by University College London.

When asked “to what extent they felt the things they did in their life were worthwhile,” participants were instructed to rate their answer on a scale from one to ten. Researchers found that those who rated higher lived life significantly better. From walking faster to sleeping well, those with a positive attitude exuded it in both mind and body.

Having an optimistic outlook on life has plenty of other benefits too, including an improvement on your ability to cope with stress, can boost your immunity, and can even lead to an increased lifespan, according to Verywell Mind.

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Taking other aspects of a participants life into account, the study was also able to determine that those who had higher ratings kept their lives pretty busy, surrounding themselves with strong relationships, socialising, and exercising. Participants who rated lower were “twice as likely to develop depressive symptoms,” and were also linked with living on their own and feeling overwhelmingly lonely.

“As more and more men and women live longer, we need to understand better what factors lead to healthier and happier older age,” Steptoe explained. “This is a two-way process. Not only do good social relationships and better health contribute to our sense that we are living meaningful lives, but this sense of meaning sustains social and cultural activity, health and wellbeing in the future.”

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Even though this study focuses on those aged over 50, that doesn’t mean that those in their thirties, twenties, or even teens can’t adopt a more positive outlook on life. I mean, starting early is always the best thing in my book, especially if it can improve your health and mental wellbeing.

And even if you’re introverted or have mental health issues like depression, you can gain positivity from literally anything. For me, it’s always the little things like immersing myself in video games or just spending time with my family.

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“We do not know what activities the participants in this study thought were worthwhile,” Fancourt explained. “For some it might be supporting their families, for others a particular accomplishment in their work or hobby, enjoying nature or perhaps following a favourite sports team. What is important is that the individual finds these activities worthwhile and feels like they give a sense of meaning to life.”

If you want to start living your life to the optimistic full, here’s some advice. Pick one thing your absolutely passionate about, and fit it into your daily routine. Even if you’re having a rough day, it’ll be there to pick you up and spin your mind back into the positive.

How to Make Your Mind Chatter More Positive

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By Susanna Newsonen

If you’re anything like me, you might have noticed that you’ve got some internal chatter in your head. This might happen especially when you’re by yourself, when you’re ruminating about something, or when you’re faced with a scary challenge or setback.

This mind chatter can be good or bad. If it’s good, it can help you to plan what to say or do, to process things that have happened or to give yourself a pep talk about overcoming a challenge. If it’s bad, it can get really bad. Here’s an example.

The other week, an old bully resurfaced in my life and sent a series of hurtful messages to me. I was initially shocked by this unprovoked attack but quickly gathered myself to tell them to stop being a bully. They continued with their attack to the extent that I had to block them from being able to contact me.

This is when my not-so-helpful not-so-loving mind chatter kicked in. “Why did you do that? That’s not very helpful. Clearly, there is something wrong with you and that’s why they’re attacking you. This is a result of your actions. The universe is punishing you.” It just continued and continued with multiple different variations of this. This wasn’t exactly helpful. It didn’t make me feel better about myself or the situation—in fact, it only made me feel worse.

I called one of my friends to talk about it as I needed some outside perspective. She was already familiar with the bully and she said the following to me: “Susanna. You’ve done what you can. You’ve already tried to resolve this situation before and they’re not listening. This isn’t about you but about them. There is nothing wrong with you.”

That’s when it hit me. I’d fallen back to my old, pessimistic way of thinking for a moment and it totally lacked any ounce of self-compassion. My friend triggered me to really reflect on what I’d said to myself in that moment of crisis and also notice the kind, encouraging words she had said.

Imagine how much better you would feel if you talked to yourself the way you talk to your bestest friends? Imagine if you could cheerlead yourself the way you cheerlead them and they cheerlead you? Just imagine for a moment what that would be like. Pretty darn good, right?

That’s why today I want you to take a good close look at your self-talk. Today, as you go on with your day and notice your internal chatter kicking off, ask yourself:

1. Are these words helpful, constructive and/or encouraging?

If not, how can you change them to be more like that?

2. Am I being rational and reasonable with these words – or am I blowing things out of proportion?

Usually, we overdramatize things with that inner critic’s voice so it’s important to check how realistic you’re actually being.

3. Is this something I would say to my best friend?

Often the answer is no and that is a good wake-up call to start treating yourself more like you treat your best friend.

The more aware you become of your internal chatter, the easier it is to start managing it. At the start, this can be scary as you might not like everything that you hear yourself say.

However, with continuous practice, you’ll notice the voice change into a more positive one. It won’t happen overnight and there will be some days that are worse than others, but the key thing is that you try.

After all, you can’t escape yourself so you might as well make yourself one of your best friends.

If you want to work on being your best friend, join The Self-Love Boostercourse before February 18th.

How Meditation Can Make You Happier

Psych Central Article

Despite many of us in the modern world enjoying a level of comfort and luxury that would be been unimaginable for most of human history, we still find it very hard to be happy. In fact, it seems that modern society is contributing to our fatigue and discontentment — with high-pressure working lives, decreased sense of community and a perceived lack of meaning all causing strain.

As much as we may struggle, however, the pursuit of happiness is still the primary goal for most people. While it would be trite to suggest that meditation can solve all our problems, there are reasons why it can help us achieve this goal.

Experiencing Less Stress

Our “fight or flight” response is continually triggered in day-to-day life by our “lizard brain” stress response system, which cannot differentiate between a true emergency and something routine — such as running late, or demands at work.

The stress response evolved in order for us to detect and face life-threatening situations, but because we have the capacity to think about our lives this response is no longer purely instinctive. Instead, we have the capacity to trigger our stress response simply by ruminating over fears and worries — especially if we struggle with anxiety.

During periods of relaxation, the hormones and physiological responses of stress naturally dissipate and do little harm, but unfortunately this isn’t the case if we’ve found ourselves on a relentless high-alert. In cases like this, the end result is exhaustion, vulnerability to illness and unhappiness.

Meditation has shown promise in various studies to reduce stress and increase “present moment awareness”, encouraging us to appreciate the moment rather than stewing over our concerns. Eventually we become calmer in general — our brains stop reacting so significantly to every trigger and our recovery time after a stressful event is improved.

In the long run, this increases our natural optimism and makes happiness easier to achieve. Consciously forcing ourselves to become more positive can be a real struggle, but because meditation appears to reduce stress on a physiological level, seeing the world in an optimistic light isn’t hampered by feelings of pressure.


Living a hectic life full of anxiety and worry makes it nearly impossible to look at any situation with a good sense of perspective. We can overcomplicate our lives and get lost in a fog that lasts for years, never really looking up from the grindstone to appreciate what we have and enjoy ourselves.

Stress makes us think narrowly and hinders our ability to make good decisions, but, once it is eased, we can think much more clearly. This leads to more productivity and efficiency, allowing to work in a way which gets things done faster and with focus, further freeing our time and mental energy.

When we aren’t in “emergency mode” all the time, we can think about our lives without the panic, anger or irrationality that stress can bring. With this, we are more able to objectively assess what’s actually important, both in our relationships and our work lives.

Better Health

There are many health benefits of meditation, as stress can be the root cause of, or can aggravate, many illnesses. It directs energy away from normal functioning such as digestion and immune response, exacerbating ongoing issues such as IBS while leaving us more susceptible everyday coughs, colds and stomach upsets.

It also contributes to bad habits such as eating bad food, smoking and overindulging in alcohol. Those who are tired are more likely to choose high-fat, high-sugar options in their diet, while being chronically stressed increases our chances of looking for crutches such as a nicotine habit.

This further damages our health in the long term while also perpetuating the problems which make us feel bad in the short term (whether it’s just guilt or a vague hangover). Meditation tackles stress, the primary issue, putting us the best possible frame of mind for making good decisions regarding our health, whilst also improving our sleep.

Getting Started

There are many different forms of meditation and it can be worth doing a little research to see which kind most seems to resonate with you. Mindfulness is where most people begin — and with plenty of apps on the market to introduce you to this technique, it can be a good way to bring meditation into your life.

If you would prefer some guidance, it’s likely that there will be meditation teachers (or Buddhist centers) which will be happy to teach you how to meditate and offer support as you make it a daily habit.

Being the happiest we can be is one of the overriding aims of humanity, yet it is frustratingly elusive. It’s easy to think that happiness is something that will come later, if only we sacrifice our time and peace of mind now. Meditation can help us be happy wherever we are in life, and let us identify the changes we need to make in order to be truly content in the present moment.

Of course everyone know that being optimistic is better than being constantly pessimistic, but do we know why being optimistic helps you? How does being positive helps you? Pessimists people think they succeed with occasional skills or external causes. They believe it is only a stroke of luck and may give up, even if successful.…

via Being optimistic helps you believe in yourself — Topics with Passion