Students may find themselves overwhelmed and unhappy during a busy semester at school, but there are easy outlets to help anyone find immediate joy.
While stretching, laughing or going outside may be a few of the suggestions magazines give to boost moods, research has shown other ways to get out of a depressive state. Benjamin Hill, a visiting professor of psychology, said the four general categories to alleviate depression include exercise, religion, virtuous relationships and lifestyle. In those categories, there are more specific activities that can help: running, writing in a mood diary, using cognitive therapy, meditating and participating in group activities.
Jessica Staples, an English teaching major, said she prefers either relaxation or recreational activities to make her happier.
“I go to Jordon Commons, get a shake and go see a movie,” Staples said. “My dad and I used to go there, it is tradition. I love running too. Sports are excellent. I like to play catch.”
Running has been known to make people happier because the brain provides endorphins, increases dopamine and takes serotonin more slowly. But running is not the only solution to a downer of a day.
Carolyn Dye, an elementary education major, said she currently enjoys coaching for a BYU dance camp.
“I always liked dancing,” Dye said. “I have only taken the beginning classes here on campus so far, but I find them relaxing.”
Hill said stress relief can also come by participating in community events and activities, because groups provide a source of support and foster humane connections. Group activities to participate in can range from yoga classes to church meetings.
“You feel like you have a community of like-minded people,” Hill said.
Many activities benefit overall happiness unintentionally. Hill said this idea is based on the law of unintended consequences. Hill said an example of this law could include doing service, stepping out the individual’s paradigm and gaining unintended benefits of greater mental health from the experience.
“There’s ample evidence to support the idea that many facets in themselves are prescriptions,” Hill said.
Whether focusing on recreational activity, getting involved in community activities or providing service to others, many simple actions can make a difference in overall happiness and help make a day happier and healthier.