- Seated Backbend
While seated with a straight spine take a deep breath and reach all the way up to the ceiling with your arms open wide. As you exhale, let your gaze slowly draw behind you and bend slightly from your upper back and chest. Hold this for a few seconds, release arms to your sides, then repeat a few times.
- Seated Twist
On an inhale, bring your arms out to your sides and overhead. On an exhale, maintain length in your spine as you twist your torso to the right, placing your left hand on the outside of the right knee, and your right arm to the chair. On an inhale, bring your arms back up overhead as you untwist back to center. Switch sides; repeat for three reps. On a fourth rep, hold the twist for three breaths on each side; slowly unwind and feel the effects.
A seated twist will squeeze out tension in the abdominal area; stretching overhead lifts the rib cage, allowing for a deeper, calming breath.
- Wrist Release
Weeks and years of typing can take a toll on your wrists and forearms.
Take a moment with each hand to bend your wrists in each direction. First, With one hand press your fingertips toward the top of your arm, then switch. Then bend each wrist in the opposite direction by pressing your fingertips toward the inside of your wrist. And then to fully release any other tension, put both arms out like a cactus and give your wrists a good rapid shake side to side, then up and down.
- Desk Shoulder Opener
Scoot your chair out and stand a few feet from your desk so just your hands can touch. Drop your head between your arms to achieve a good shoulder stretch. This will counteract the hunching that inevitably happens when sitting at a desk and typing, while also getting your shoulders back into proper alignment.
- Forward Fold
If you can get away with legs up a wall or kicking into a handstand, by all means. But to keep from distracting the office a forward fold will do the trick.
Stand next to your desk, fold over in half with soft knees and let gravity take over. Hold for at least 20 seconds and sway side to side if that feels good. By letting your arms and head hang, your neck and shoulders will decompress from all that computer typing. Plus, reversing the blood flow will give you a boost of energy for the rest of your work day.
The How of Happiness is a comprehensive guide to understanding the elements of happiness based on years of groundbreaking scientific research. It is also a practical, empowering, and easy-to-follow workbook, incorporating happiness strategies, exercises in new ways of thinking, and quizzes for understanding our individuality, all in an effort to help us realize our innate potential for joy and ways to sustain it in our lives. Drawing upon years of pioneering research with thousands of men and women, “The How of Happiness” is both a powerful contribution to the field of positive psychology and a gift to people who have sought to take their happiness into their own hands.
The premise of “The How of Happiness” is that happiness is worth striving for, and that 50 percent of a given human’s happiness level is genetically determined (based on twin studies), 10 percent is affected by life circumstances and situation, and a remaining 40 percent of happiness is subject to self control that can make a difference. The strategies offered in the book are designed to target the 40 percent of happiness that is subject to manipulation.
About the author
Sonja Lyubomirsky is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside.
Originally from Russia, Lyubomirsky received her A.B. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from Stanford University.
Lyubomirsky has been honored with a John Templeton Foundation grant, a Science of Generosity grant, a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize, and a million-dollar grant (with Ken Sheldon) from the National Institute of Mental Health.
According to a new research published in “Nutrition Journal” the reason comes down to fatty acids: Diets that include meat and fish are higher in arachidonic acid (AA), an animal source of omega-6 fatty acids. Much of the meat we eat today is quite high in AA: The average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid profile of modern grain-fed meat is 5 times higher than grass-fed meat, like our ancestors ate. And previous research has shown high levels of AA can cause mood-disturbing brain changes.
High-fish diets also mean higher levels of long-chain, or omega-3 fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both EPA and DHA combat the negative effects of AA. High dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to better brain health, better mood and a host of other health benefits. Most health experts recommend an omega-6/omega-3 ratio of about 4:1.
In theory, then, frequent fish eaters should have be protected against the damaging effects of AA because of their higher intake of omega-3 acids. But an earlier study found omnivores reported significantly worse moods than vegetarians, despite higher intakes of EPA and DHA.
In this follow-up study, 39 meat-eating participants were assigned to one of three diets. A control group ate meat, fish or poultry daily; a second group ate fish 3-4 times weekly but no meat; and a third group ate strictly vegetarian. After two weeks, mood scores were unchanged for the fish- and meat-eating groups, but vegetarians reported significantly better moods and less stress.
“Restricting meat, fish, and poultry improved … short-term mood state in modern omnivores,” the researchers concluded.
After two weeks on a vegetarian diet, participants had “negligible amounts” of EPA, DHA and AA in their bodies. Fatty acid levels in the control group were unchanged. Participants in the fish eating group showed 95 to 100% higher levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids—but their omega-6 to omega-3 ratios were still heavily skewed toward omega-6′s.
To work plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids (called ALA) into your diet, try chia seeds, hemp seed, cauliflower and purslane.