To boost your mood, try new foods, new hair, new hobbies
6 mins read

To boost your mood, try new foods, new hair, new hobbies

In 2014, Tabitha Brown was busy raising two young children and building a career — and she wasn't as satisfied with her life as she wanted to be.

“I needed to change things, so I decided that every day, for 30 days, I would try something new,” says social media personality and actress Brown, who has tried everything from new foods to new hairstyles. Wrote about my experiment to try something. His book “I Did a New Thing: 30 Days to Living Free.”

“Many of us become accustomed to feeling depressed, and a big part of that may be that you're just tired of the same old thing,” according to Brown, whose 30 Days in a Practice Changes that they have continued for a decade. “Trying something new, and really paying attention to the positive feelings you get from it, can help you discover – or rediscover – something about yourself and your life that you love.”

A growing body of scientific research supports Brown's theory. Whether it's the burden of everyday news or the general burden of our daily responsibilities, it's easy to feel tired and dissatisfied. Brain experts say that one effective tool for pushing back emotions is to introduce new experiences. The best part is that the impact of those changes doesn't have to be widespread.

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, Affiliated Professor at MIT, and Cass R. “Many of us become tired of our daily routines due to a phenomenon known as habituation,” says Sunstein's co-author Tali Sharot. See again: the power of noticing what always was.”

“Neurons in our brain stop responding to things that don't change. We need to make room for the new and unexpected, so that our brain can filter out the old and expected,” she says. “We've all experienced this physically when jumping into a pool: at first the water feels cold, But then your body gets used to it. In the case of a negative emotion like sadness, it's good that we get used to it, because the emotions subside with time. But when it comes to positive things, we really enjoy them. We enjoy things less because we get used to them.

When we experience newness, it turns on release of dopamine, neurotransmitter The Cleveland Clinic describes it as the “reward center” of the brain. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and attention as well as mood and activity.

Dopamine also drives motivation; When we experience something new, the dopamine released in the brain creates a feedback loop that motivates us to seek more, says Allen, co-director of the Mind and Heart Research Lab, a psychophysiology lab at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona. Dougherty says. California.

· Explore new places in your weekly routine. Something as simple as going to a new coffee shop or changing your usual walking route can give you a lift. In a 2020 study published in Nature NeuroscienceResearchers at New York University and the University of Miami tracked the GPS locations of 132 study participants for four months and asked them to report on their emotions every few days.

“We found that people who visited different places felt more positive emotions than people who didn't,” says Katherine Hartley, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University and one of the study's co-authors. Went.” ,

When researchers performed MRIs on the brains of some participants, they found that those for whom new places had the greatest emotional impact showed greater connections in activity between the hippocampus and striatum, which is associated with increased sensitivity to new experiences. There were areas associated with positive emotions. Reward in the brain.

· Try new things that enhance your already good habits. Dougherty prioritizes eating well but knows she'll get bored of eating the same thing day after day, so she makes a conscious effort to change up her usual menu from time to time to motivate herself to stick to her goals. Makes efforts.

· Take a break from the things you love. It may sound cliché, but taking a break from things you enjoy – or dislike – can boost mood because you experience novelty when you resume doing something you previously took for granted. Get the benefit of. This is the same phenomenon that many of us experience when we return home from traveling.

Sharot says she felt this way when she became infected with COVID-19 and when she recovered, she was sent to the basement. “When I returned to the main floor of my house, I experienced what we call 'resparkling,' where you rediscover something joyful,” she recalls.

The same applies to ice cream or a glass of wine at night — cutting down to once a week can refresh its novelty aspect, meaning you'll enjoy it more when you indulge, says Sharot. .

Experience innovation in smaller, more frequent bursts. When Sharot's lab partnered with a tourism company to survey guests at a resort, they found that people were happiest 43 hours into their vacation. Once they got used to their surroundings, their happiness levels decreased.

“We found that vacationers often used the word 'first' when they were happiest, such as 'the first time' they saw the ocean or 'the first time' they built a sandcastle,” says Sharot. Make.” “This suggests that to get the psychological benefit of those 'firsts,' we can benefit from smaller, more frequent novel experiences.”

But Dougherty also offered a cautionary note: Just because something is new doesn't automatically make it positive, so choose new activities carefully.

“It's important to understand that in terms of making positive, proactive changes in our lives, this drive is a good thing,” she says. But “'novelty seeking behavior', where a person engages in over-the-top activities to influence dopamine, such as taking harmful drugs or speeding while driving, is a psychological condition that requires professional help.” it occurs.”

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