The science behind being happy (and staying happy) with your lovebug.
When the best part of your day is putting that brilliant smile on your partner's face, you know it's love. Being comfortable enough to laugh without abandon sometimes comes through trial and error. Would you believe that there is actually a science to finding the best way to happines?
Statistics have shown that forming strong social relationships with family and friends decreases mortality risks and boosts mental, physical and emotional health, as seen in a recent study by PLOS Medicine.
When it comes to dating, the answer to the age old question of how to be happy — and stay happy, together, is actually quite simple.
1. Couples Workout Classes
Fitness junkies, get ready to hit the gym. Exercise has long been regarded as one of the fullproof ways to improve mood and relieve stress. According to Eric Barker of Time, "[p]eople who exercise are, across the board, mentally healthier: less depression, anger, stress and distrust." In the Standard Medical Intervention and Long-term Exercise study (known as SMILE), 156 participants were surveyed for sixteen weeks to test if aerobic exercise training would have similar effects to standard pharmacotherapy (which is the use of pharmaceutical drugs to treat an illness). Not only was found that physical activity can actually decrease anxiety and depression symptoms, the results were comparable to that of antidepressants. Who knew that one of the many benefits of dating include promoting a health mindset?
2. Take A Walk
The best part is that physical activity does not have to be limited to straining exercise routines; it can be as simple as taking a romantic stroll at the park. In a recent study, Dr. Chuck Hillman of University of Illinois observed brain activity before and after a 20 minute walk, noting the release of endorphins and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (a protein that helps the growth of neurons as well as plays an important role in long-term memory). The feeling of calmness and bliss that you get after a walk can be attributed to the work of these endorphins and protein.
3. Talk It Out
In an infographic by Happify, an app that seeks to improve overall happiness in couples through the use of effective studies, couples who dedicated at least five extra hours per week on conversing were found to have stronger and happier relationships; in fact, "studies show the most crucial factor is how you celebrate your partner's good news. In one study, people who did this 3x a day for 1 week increased their happiness and felt less depressed afterwards." Whether you spend time chatting over dinner or just make time to talk in general, the point is that positive interactions play a major part of how appreciated your partner feels at the end of the day.
4. Go Hiking
In his research, Shawn Anchor of The Happiness Advantage found that devoting at least "20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory". Why not kill three birds with one stone by planning time to unwind after a rigorous but romantic outing with your beau? Grab a pair of hiking boots and hit the trails. Not only will you be taking advantage of the fresh air, you'll be working out while working your problems out with your sweetheart.
5. Take A Trip!
Get in some much needed relaxation time by planning a getaway trip with your love. For those of you stuck Stateside, did you know that Denmark was labeled as the happiest country in the world two times in a row (as seen in the 2013 World Happiness Report)? The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network also confirmed this after surveying over 156 countries.
Survey says? Let yourself be overcome with wanderlust by exploring the world.
6. Head To A Concert
As seen by Ed Sheeran's recent act of kindness when he serenaded a dying fan, there's no question that listening to music can be therapeutic. PsychCentral's Jane Collingwood stated that one of the reasons that music acts as an anxiety reducer and stress reliever is because of the link it has to our emotions. This is the perfect excuse to rock out at a concert together. And, you can even make a trip out of it (which we know from #5 is a smart idea) by packing your bags and heading to one of the many music festivals around the country this summer. Bonaroo, Electric Daisy Carnival, Firefly, Lollapalooza — there's tons of opportunities for happiness with your loved one.
It's pretty much a given that there is no greater feeling in the world than helping others. One study even found that the happiness you encounter from volunteering can increase your longevity. Could there be anything more romantic than forming a bond with strangers while also strengthening the one between you and your partner?
What do you and your partner do to stay happy together?