Against a backdrop of depression-related suicides, Active focuses on smart ways to stay happy. It's all doctor-recommended and doesn't hurt
When Bobby McFerrin got the world to hum his multiple-Grammy Award winning track, Don't Worry, Be Happy, therapists must've silently rejoiced that playlists were finally sounding upbeat. After all, you don't need a shrink to tell you that listening to music (the easy-on-the-mind kind) works well to lift your spirits. But what is it that ups the Happiness Quotient? Is there a set formula or a carefully cultivated state of mind? There might be more questions than answers to counter the big depression.
Have Bananas, not Maida
Dr Nirmala S Rao, practicing psychiatrist and founder of Aavishkar Centre of Self Enrichment, says there's no specific mantra to stay happy; it's more about maintaining moderation in every sphere. "Identify what returns you strive for. Justify if it's actually worth it. It boils down to a work-life balance."
There's great news beyond the couch. Naini Setalvad, Mumbai-based dietician confirms that your intake is directly linked to being upbeat. There are two "feel-good" hormones in your body -- serotonin and dopamine. "Eating bananas, brown bread, potatoes, Omega 3 fatty acids, cocoa (the cocoa content in chocolate gives you a high) and Vitamin B12 helps regulate these hormones," she says.
Making a regular routine of what you enjoy doing can play de-stressor, reveals Yogacharya Anandji, Founder-Proprietor of The Yoga Training Centre. "Follow it, for at least 30 minutes daily." Of course, tomes have been written of how yoga and meditation helps chase the blues away.
Demand is the culprit
Dr Rao believes professional lives are centred on the growth-rewards cycle. "Our growth is weighed by the rewards secured. Unknowingly, we assume that sadness is linked with expectations at work/ school, when in reality, it is the demand," says Dr Rao. We crave for immediate rewards, which our professional/ academic life provides. Meanwhile, our personal lives get marginalised; while we harbour similar expectations here too. Slowly, depression creeps in and could get serious."
Johnson Thomas, Director, Aasra Helpline, suggests that a suicidal streak is thanks to a rapidly changing value system. "Family systems that provide us with emotional stability are diminishing. Hopelessness emerges from a breakdown of support systems." Aasra dealt with an average of 50 suicide calls every day, last week. "The caller is someone who hasn't experienced a great deal of pain/ rejection/ difficulty and is suddenly faced with numerous demands from people and society. Those between 15 to 25 years are most prone," he shares.
4 quick ways to beat melancholia
Smile more. Studies show how simply smiling can send serotonin levels soaring, making you feel better, physically. Avoid booze. Alcohol is actually a central nervous system depressant. Have 100-200 belly laughs a day: the equivalent of a high impact workout, it helps burn up to 500 calories. Ask for a hug. A 40-year-old study on child rearing practices conducted at Harvard University says, those kids who were hugged and cuddled more grew up to be the happiest.
Japan refused to be happy
The only country that Bobby McFerrin's chart topper wasn't No. 1 was in Japan, because (Emperor) Hirohito was dying at the time and the Japanese felt it was inappropriate to be humming along to Don't Worry, Be Happy.
Depression as a defence mechanism
It's common knowledge that depression attacks people in their most productive years. Dr Rao says most professionals use work as an escape route from depression. "Work is an antidepressant; that's why people push themselves into the rat race. Work becomes their identity."