A lot has been said about the habits of happy people, but what about some of the things they never do? It’s time to look at some of the behaviours you should avoid if you want to stay happy.
We asked Heidi Hanna, Ph.D., author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress, for her insight into happiness-blocking behaviours happy women avoid.
Dwelling on past mistakes
One thing you’ll never find a happy woman doing is dwelling on the past. “When we stay focused on what’s already behind us, it makes it impossible to be fully engaged in the present moment. It also narrows our perspective so that we’re more wired to pay attention to the other negatives around us,” explains Hanna. Rather than worry about something that you can’t change, she suggests focusing on the lessons learned that can be applied to future challenges. “Stress is an excellent change agent, and as long as we are able to see a benefit of our experience, we can use mistakes to facilitate growth for the future.”
Overusing social media
Are you addicted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? It could be hindering your happiness. “Studies have shown that using social media sites like Facebook can actually increase depression, triggered by comparing what’s going on in our life at the moment with the best of what’s being shared online,” says Hanna. The same goes for too much posting on social media sites, which, she explains, can become an addictive distraction from other things we want or need to do. This behaviour can increase stress when it makes you feel like you don’t have enough time in a day to complete more important tasks. If staying active on social sites is important to you, Hanna advises limiting your usage. “Determine a specific time each day where you will check in, and limit the time spent. Set an alarm to let you know when your time is up.”
Talking smack about themselves
While we all criticize ourselves at times, doing so on a regular basis will play a significant role in how happy you are. “Internal chatter and self-criticism can make us obsess about what we think needs to be fixed and not able to appreciate all of our positive qualities,” warns Hanna. If you find yourself being overly critical, she suggests finding three things to compliment yourself on to balance the negative thoughts. “When you catch yourself stuck on the negative, quickly compliment yourself on three other features to balance it out. Studies show that it takes three positive comments to balance out every negative.” The more you learn to counteract negative thoughts with positive ones, the easier it will get.
Checking email first thing in the morning
Most people start their day by checking email, even before downing a coffee or having a shower. But it might be a better idea to hold off on peeking at your inbox, says Hanna. “Before prioritizing what you want to do with your day, it’s important to focus on the type of mindset you want to have to get your work done. If you jump into work mode immediately, your brain will be more focused on putting out fires, stuck in survival mode and unable to think creatively or optimistically,” she explains. Instead of reading emails, she suggests starting the day by writing down three things you’re grateful for, which boosts positive endorphins in the brain. “That will help you to think more clearly, respond more rationally and maintain better energy throughout the day.”
Forgetting to take care of themselves
Busy lives and stressful jobs can sometimes mean our minds and bodies get neglected, but happy women never put their health second. For example, Hanna notes that happy women don’t go too long without eating, and they don’t miss valuable sleep time, both of which can increase stress. Happy women also don’t work non-stop — they know the importance of a good work-life balance, and they also don’t sit still. Move once every 90 minutes to increase circulation and energy, Hanna advises.