Four ways to improve life satisfaction
Did you know that it is said that middle aged women have the lowest level of life satisfaction, with those aged 45 – 59 badged as the most miserable in the UK? When I see clients in this group, there are many reasons for this including;
- children leaving home
- changes to work environment
- changes in relationships
- changes in health
- feelings of invisibility
It can feel like a major change in life – much more so than any other. And, it can lead to a whole range of feelings, including lack of confidence, questions about identify, feeling unattractive, confusion and lack of optimism about the future and labile emotions. And, of course, this is in addition to any physical symptoms such as poor skin, lack of energy and motivation, upset stomach, racing heart and many more.
If you’ve been caught up in what can feel like a never-ending cycle, you may be experiencing the nocebo effect, believing yourself unwell either physically or emotionally. You may find it useful to do something that might seem a little strange. Get curious; release that brain chemical dopamine to help you learn. When you find something that helps you change your ‘state’, you release lots of feel good hormones which, in turn, lift your mood and help you take action. Here are four ways that will help;
1. Get back to basics
What is it that lit you up when you were younger? What did you really enjoy doing that put you in ‘flow’, that feeling that time has stopped and you’re completely absorbed? It might be something really simple like crafting, walking or playing an instrument.
When you’ve found your ‘thing’, really notice what it was that you enjoyed about it. Perhaps that you felt satisfied with something you made (and doing craft can reduce blood levels of cortisol-the stress hormone); maybe you enjoyed seeing the countryside (being in woodland is shown to reduce anxiety); maybe you enjoyed the company of being in a band and releasing oxytocin, the hug hormones.
Now, how can you build that back into your life in some way now. It might not be in exactly the same way, but how can you rediscover an element of this pleasure?
2. Ask yourself the question, if a miracle happened, what would your life look like? How would you feel?
I appreciate that if you want millions and to live in Barbados, you might have a way to go. However, if you’re not clear on what it is you want, it’s very difficult to begin making the relevant changes. And, often, it’s not about the what you want, but how you want to feel which can be quite different.
I’m a great fan of vision boards – get in touch if you’d like to find out more – and have seen people have much success once they have real clarity about what they really want. Without a clear destination, your brain doesn’t know where to start, so, when you want to be true to yourself, that brilliant brain chemical dopamine will help.
3. Mind your language
Yes, really. We all slip into the ‘poor me’ mode sometimes and we can be found muttering and grumbling about life, how it’s so unfair and their fault anyway. Do you notice what you achieve when you think that way? Your brain is simply following instructions to achieve your aim as your language is telling it what its goal is.
So, for now, just notice when this happens; no judgement. Then, it’s easy to wonder what else you could be saying to yourself instead, isn’t it? Language such as ‘I wonder what I could change about that?’ or ‘what else could I say there?’. Soon, you’ll notice that you have a more positive outlook about things and will feel more forward looking.
4. Cultivate that gratitude attitude
It’s real! I’ve seen oodles of research about how this works – I can share some if you’re interested – and it’s, without doubt, one of the most powerful things we can do to shift our thinking.
It’s simple, make a note each day of three things you’re grateful for. A simple piece of paper will do, or get really creative and create an online document or (if you’re like me) buy a beautiful little notebook you can carry with you.
Remember to write not just what it is you’re grateful for, but why. That’s the important bit, what is it about the thing you’re grateful for that creates those feelings? Gratitude helps people like you feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences; improve your health (put it on an upward, not downward spiral); become more resilient, and build strong relationships. I’ll be interested to hear how quickly you see the changes begin.
Obviously, none of these are quick fixes, more a way of ‘doing’ life really. And, it’s important to say that if you really feel like you’re really struggling, your GP will be your first point of help. However, many people, like you, can easily begin to find a lightness when you practice these four activities. I’m not sure how quickly you’ll start, but I wish you every success.
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