Serotonin is a word that’s bandied around a lot these days. Although you probably know that it is a good thing to have more of, you might not be entirely sure what exactly it is, or how you can get more of it in your life.
Never fear, you have come to the right place.
What Is Serotonin?
In layman’s terms, serotonin is a chemical that nerve cells produce that sends signals between them. It has an incredible effect on the functioning of the whole body, including the brain. It impacts the most basic and vital things you do such as: sleeping, eating and digesting. Boosting serotonin levels within the body can have a whole myriad of positive effects including healing wounds more quickly, improve your memory and can even help to maintain bone health. However, the effect it is perhaps most well-known for, and the reason that people generally want to up their levels of serotonin, is that it helps regulate your mood naturally. With normal serotonin levels in your system you should feel happier, calmer, more focused, less anxious, and even more emotionally stable. I don’t know about you, but that all sounds pretty appealing to me!
So, How Can You Increase Your Serotonin Levels?
Yep, along with all the other positive effects exercise has on your body, it can also boost your serotonin levels and have a huge impact on your mood. Did you ever hear of the expression ‘runner’s high’? It’s no myth! You don’t need to just run to feel the effects, though. Anything that gets your body moving and gets your blood pumping works! Bonus points if you do something that makes you smile and and have fun at the same time, as you will see below. Serotonin is one of several endorphins that are released when you start getting your heart rate up, along with norepinephrine and dopamine. Combined, these all make you feel energized and upbeat after a great workout.
2. Get More Sunlight
Although you should be careful about the effects that catching too many rays can have on your skin, if you don’t get enough sunshine then your serotonin levels can take a dip, meaning your mood does too. Exposure to sunlight increases serotonin levels, keeping you alert, calm, and more focused. Conversely, at night, a lack of light means the brain produces melatonin, which is what makes you feel sleepy.
If you have depression caused by a lack of sunlight, it is known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder. You will normally suffer from it during the short days of winter, especially if you are going into and leaving work in the dark. To boost your levels, ensure you spend as much time outdoors as possible, and allow your bare skin to be exposed to sunlight for short periods of time, whilst always being conscious of sun safety. Try and get outside on your lunch break when you can, rather than spending all your time cooped up under artificial light. Some doctors will recommend light boxes, which are designed to simulate sunlight and stimulate serotonin production.
3. Treat Yourself To A Massage
You will be delighted to know that you now have an excuse to get that massage you’ve being dreaming about. If you’ve had one, you’ll know how calm your brain becomes and how relaxed your body feels after a massage. It is not just that your muscles have been manipulated. Your whole system has had a boost of serotonin. Treat yourself to regular massages to feel the benefits, or rope your partner into a serotonin boosting massage exchange.
4. Vitamin B6
Our diets have far more of an impact on our overall well-being than most of us are aware. Vitamin B6 plays a crucial role in your brain’s ability to produce serotonin, and you get this vitamin through your diet. You can take a supplement to make sure that you are getting enough, but there is also plenty of B6 in spinach, garlic, cauliflower, celery, fish and poultry, so try and make sure that you are getting plenty of these into your diet.
5. Smile and Laugh More Often
Giving yourself more reasons to have a giggle stimulates serotonin production and gives you an instant boost. Whether it’s watching a comedy or getting together with people that will have you rolling on the floor laughing are sure fire ways of getting more serotonin coursing around your system. You don’t actually have to laugh, though. A true smile (one that reaches all the way up to your eyes) will mean your brain releases more serotonin, too. Whilst it might seem hard to really smile when you are feeling low, try looking at pictures that make you smile, or go and speak to someone that never fails to make you happy. Smile at everyone you come across, and the smiles you get back will make you feel good, too.
Boost Your Mood the Natural Way
If you are feeling low, trying the 5 serotonin-boosting tips above might just be the key to getting your mood back on track to where it should be. Get active, give yourself reasons to smile from ear to ear and keep the ones you love close, and you will be sure to notice a difference. Have we missed anything? How do you boost your mood? Please share in the comments below.
How Neurobics Can improve Your Memory
When you are trying to improve your overall well-being, it is just as important to focus on your mental fitness as well as your physical fitness. Most people have heard of aerobics. Aerobic exercise is a great way to boost your heart rate and burn a few extra calories while improving your heart health. But, have you ever heard of Neurobics? Neurobics is the science behind brain exercise.
Yes, you can exercise your mind and keep it just as fit as your body. But, it is not like your brain is going to do any jumping jacks or jogging any time soon, right? So, what can you do to keep it fit, and how does exercising your brain actually improve your memory?
Let’s dive a little deeper into how Neurobics actually works, and a few exercises you can try to boost your memory and overall brain health.
What Is Neurobics?
When you break Neurobics down, it stands for neurons + aerobics. Neurobic exercises increase the level of oxygen in your brain and “breathe life” into the neurons.
When those neurons are stronger and more stimulated, it improves your brain health – especially your memory. A good way to visualize how Neurobics actually helps is by picturing a piece of glass being blown into a decorative item. The glass maker has to stretch the piece when it is warm and malleable. But, once it is stretched out, it doesn’t spring back to where was before. It stays permanently in place.
Neurobics work the same way. By taking part in an activity or experience that taxes your brain, you are “stretching” the neurons. Once they are stretched, they don’t return to the shape that they were in before.
That is the point of Neurobics – to challenge your mind in different ways so that it gets stronger. If you are working out your body, doing the exact same exercise the same way each day, it would eventually cause your results to plateau. You have to switch things up to “confuse” your muscles and get them stronger. Working out your brain is just the same. With that in mind, let’s cover a few easy Neurobics exercises that you can start doing right away.
Change Your Habits
One of the easiest (and yet, most challenging) ways to get started with Neurobics is to step out of your daily comfort zone. Some habits can already be detrimental to your memory, and cutting them out of your life will make a difference.
When you stop old habits, you are actually using Neurobics to challenge your brain into different thinking patterns. Some ideas to consider include:
- Giving up (or at least cutting down) on television
- Quitting smoking/drinking alcohol
- Changing your eating habits
- Exercising more
When you stop doing some of the things that you have grown comfortable with, you require your brain to stretch, adapt and change. As a result, you will start thinking clearer, become more focused, and remember more things.
Do Something Different
Some Neurobic exercises are things that you can do in just a few minutes each day – the equivalent of doing 50 jumping jacks in a five-minute work break. Things like solving a crossword puzzle, writing in a journal or giving yourself a High Five in a mirror can all fire up the neurons in your brain. Even yoga and/or meditation can force you to push away the “cluttered” thoughts that are in your head and require you to focus on one particular thing.
The places you go and the experiences that you jump into can be considered as Neurobic activities. Anything that challenges your mind and causes you to think differently about something is a great way to stretch your brain.
These could include going to a museum, a zoo, a musical performance, or even different cultural festivals. Allowing yourself to be open to new ideas and experiences is one of the best ways to exercise your brain and improve your memory.
Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do.”
While one of the biggest benefits of Neurobics is improved memory, it is certainly not the only “perk” to this type of mental exercising. Neurobics can also help you to face your fears, live without regrets, and experience a fuller, more meaningful life.
They can give you the courage to take more chances and experience the rewards. They can turn you into a better leader. Most importantly, Neurobics can inspire you by changing the way you see the world around you.
If you are already passionate about your physical health, it could be time to start thinking about your mental fitness, too! Whether you want to improve your memory as you get older or just want to keep your mind as sharp as possible now, trying Neurobics is a great way to “stay in great mental shape”.
Use some of the exercises listed here to get started. You might be surprised by just how quickly your focus and memory will start to improve.
8 Great Ways To Reward Your Employees
Employee engagement is more than a current trend – it is something that more businesses across the globe are starting to value for plenty of good reasons. When employees feel happy and appreciated, they are more likely to be productive and loyal to your company.
While basic benefits packages are still important, it is now more important than ever to go above and beyond for the people working for you. Not only can great rewards help you to hire the best talent, but they will also make your business environment a positive one where people will actually enjoy coming to work and do their best.
The great part about rewarding your employees is that you can let your creativity shine. Think about practical, functional rewards that your employees will actually use and appreciate. Then, don’t be afraid to have some fun with your ideas.
Feeling stuck? Not sure where to get started? Let’s cover some great ways to reward your employees.
1. Make Your Gratitude Public
Sometimes, the simplest gestures can make the biggest difference. If you really want your employees to feel good, make sure everyone knows how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication.
So, thank them publicly. The next time you have a company meeting or public event, carve out some time to thank people individually. Giving them a few moments of attention in a public setting is a great way to show them how much that you appreciate them. After all, who doesn’t like to be complimented?
2. Give Time Off
A reward doesn’t have to be something tangible to be valuable. If your employees have been working hard, reward them with some extra time off. It could be a long weekend, a surprise vacation, or even just an afternoon off on a random Tuesday.
If you do decide to reward them with some free time, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate the work that they have been doing. That appreciation, along with getting a break from work, can help them to feel more motivated and productive when they return.
3. The Little Things Count
You don’t need to go overboard with flashy, expensive rewards. Sometimes, it’s the little things that mean the most. Plus, you will be able to give them more frequently.
Hand out things like gift cards to local coffee shops or movie theaters, or give them something practical like a travel mug or ergonomic desk chair. Small gestures can really mean a lot and your employees will remember and appreciate the gesture.
4. Build Community Through Food
Everyone has to eat, but not everyone likes spending money on their lunch or bringing a regular sandwich from home.
One of the easiest ways to reward your employees is to have lunch catered in as often as possible. Not only does it show them how much you appreciate their work, but when everyone eats lunch together, it will build a more positive work environment. Your business benefits all around.
You can take things one step further by making your catered lunches a scheduled event, whether you do it once a week, once a month, etc. It gives people something to look forward to and serves as a constant reminder of your appreciation.
5. Subscription Services
Subscription services have become more popular than ever in recent years. They really grew during the pandemic, when most people started spending more time at home.
Consider signing your employees up for a subscription service you think they would enjoy. Perhaps give them a list of magazines that they can choose from and give them a years subscription for a job well done.
6. Schedule Company-wide Activities
Host company parties, picnics, and other fun events as often as possible. Everyone deserves to have fun after working hard, and it is another great opportunity for your employees to get closer, a build a better bond. Company activities can also help to prevent burnout in the workplace.
Make sure to include certain events that can include employees’ family members so everyone can join in the fun and your workers don’t have to be away from their loved ones. Family picnics, movie nights, bowling tournaments, or even a catered dinner are all great ways to make sure everyone is involved.
7. Extra Responsibility
While more responsibilities might not seem like a “reward” at first, it is how you present it to an employee that makes a difference.
When you sit down to talk to an employee about increasing their responsibilities, make sure they know why. Talk about how much you trust them and their ability to make decisions on their own. Let them know their value as a part of the company, and you take their career goals as seriously as they do.
8. Give Them A High Five
Giving someone a high five should not be confined just to sports. You have probably seen the viral videos of a teacher giving their students a high five as they enter the classroom. You can feel the positivity, genuine excitement and the wonderful energy from these videos. Research has shown that the biggest difference in whether or not someone will enjoy their job and be more productive, is not the amount of vacation time or their salary package. It is when someone has a manager who cares, appreciates and trusts them and makes them feel that they matter. The next time someone hits a target, makes a sale or gives great customer service why not give them a well deserved high five and see how it makes them feel.
While your employees might not regularly expect rewards, that is half the fun of giving them. Boosting morale, no matter how big or small your business might be, will make a big difference in how productive your workers are. It will shape the environment of your entire company, and the best part? It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to reward people for a job well done. Get creative, get personal, and find unique ways to show your employees how much you appreciate them.
Are You Working For A Tyrant Boss? (And what you can do about it)
Multiple studies have indicated that a large percentage of people are unhappy with their jobs. Research carried out by Microsoft in 2021, showed that 41% of the workforce are considering leaving their employer. Sometimes, this dissatisfaction comes from working long hours. Other times, it is about not making enough money.
On occasion, however, the source of unhappiness is the person that you work for. Working for a tyrant boss is draining and stressful. It can have a negative impact on nearly every area of your life, because the stress that it causes makes it hard to “let go” of your workday even when you are at home.
So, how do you know if you are working for a tyrant boss? And if you are, what can you do about it?
A Boss That Is Never Wrong
You have heard of the phrase “the customer is always right,” but do you work for someone who never seems to think that you are ever right?
A tyrant in the workplace is often a dictator. This means that they don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion or ideas, and if they do, they are instantly shut down. A tyrant boss can “never be wrong,” and they have the final authority on everything.
Unfortunately, they are often the ones who will suffer in the end. No one is perfect, no matter how much your boss thinks that they are. If they do not take other people’s input into consideration, they are going to burn out and end up making poor choices, which will impact the business in the long run.
Help people reach their full potential, catch them doing something right. ― Ken Blanchard
They Expect Carbon Copies Of Themselves
Does your boss seem to gravitate toward employees who are just like them?
Narcissistic people tend to be kinder to those who have the same characteristics. The problem with that? It takes a diverse group of people with different skill sets to make a great team.
If your boss favors people just like them and expects everyone to conform to certain unreasonable expectations, you should see this as a huge red flag.
Additionally, pay attention to how your boss’ personality changes around certain people. If they tend to play favorites, it might be another sign that they are running a tyrannical operation. Everyone in a business should be treated equally. Favoritism doesn’t belong in a professional setting.
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is a success. – Henry Ford
They Don’t Respect Your Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance has become an important topic of conversation over the last year. With more people working remotely, it has been harder for some to strike a healthy balance between their work life and their home life.
While, in many cases, you can find ways to manage this balance, some bosses simply won’t allow it.
For example, does your boss frequently call you on your day off? Do they email you or message you after working hours, or first thing in the morning?
If your boss cannot respect that you have a life and that you deserve some free time, they are running their business like a dictatorship. Good employers know how important it is for their employees to have free time, whether it is for self-care or socialization. When a worker constantly feels like they are “on the clock,” they are more likely to get burnt out quickly, and their performance will suffer.
They Are Master Micro-Managers
Does your boss lurk over you more often than not? Do you find it hard to get anything done in a day because they are micromanaging everything that you do?
Micro-managers want a play-by-play of everything that you are doing throughout the day. They will try to take charge of your projects and overlook everything so you can’t be as productive as you could be.
You can work to diffuse a micro-managing boss by giving them more information than they ask for. Beat them at their own game by giving them detailed information about what you are working on. If they feel like they are not able to be “on top” of you anymore, they will likely give up and let you work in peace.
Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people. – Steve Jobs
They Want All Of The Credit
Typically, when a business sees any kind of success, it is a good sign of a strong, dynamic team. One person cannot hold up an entire company on their own.
But, if your boss tends to take the credit for everything and loves being in the spotlight, it can often feel like your efforts are unnoticed and unappreciated. There are children’s books about people doing all the work and someone else taking all of the credit. Some adults just never seem to learn the “moral of the story”.
What Can You Do About It?
So, what can you do if you are working for a tyrant boss? Aside from resigning, which is sometimes the only option, there are a few ways that you can manage things on a daily basis.
First, try not to let your boss’ behavior affect you. Yes, they can be frustrating. They will get to you, at times. It is important for you to take the high road and be the bigger person. No matter where you work, everything that you do is a reflection of who you are – your personal brand. Don’t give in to your frustrations, and don’t fuel your boss’ attitude by snapping back at them. If you do, chances are, their behaviors will become even more exaggerated.
Your overall well-being should be your top priority. If you don’t see any signs of a changing environment, you don’t need to stay in a toxic workplace. Understand some of these signs, and trust your gut when it comes to how you should respond. Many of us have had bad experiences with tyrant bosses in the past, I know I have. In my experience, tyrant bosses very rarely change. They have either moved on or I have.
Life is too short to be stressed out by your boss. Thankfully there are plenty of great bosses out there too who will respect and value you and they are a real joy to work with.