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Rewire yourself happier: 8 top tips from science

In March 2020, as the coronavirus lockdown took hold in the US, Yale University decided to make its most popular course ever – The Science of Well-Being, taught by Professor Laurie Santos – available for free, online. We heard about it at CADAS back in April from Alice, one of our new volunteers in the West, and now several volunteers, and clients, are doing it. Laurie sums up the content of the course as ‘misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change’.

There are also exercises to do throughout the 10-week course – all based on scientific studies which show measurable increases in health, wellbeing, happiness and even brainpower for people who incorporate them into their daily lives. (Laurie calls these ‘rewirements’.) As you begin to plan your new routine after lockdown, this might be a good time to give one a try.

  • Signature Strengths – plan to use 1 or more of your top character strengths in a new way every day (you can do a free survey on the VIA Website to find out what they are)
  • Savouring – take time to relish the things you enjoy (pick one activity a day and do it mindfully, telling someone else about it, recording it)
  • Gratitude – take 5-10 minutes a day to write down 5 things, big or small, that happened that day you are grateful for
  • Kindness – plan one new act of kindness every day – check in with a neighbour, post a card, donate to charity
  • Social Connection – chat to someone you don’t know as you’re on your daily exercise or make time for a long conversation with someone don’t usually make enough time for – email will do!
  • Exercise – try 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week, even if it’s just a quick lockdown disco in your kitchen
  • Sleep – give yourself the best chance to sleep at least 7 hours a night, 4 times a week (it may not always work – for tips on getting more sleep: https://cadas.co.uk/sleep-and-recovery-9-top-tips)
  • Meditation – meditate for 5-10 minutes a day if you are a beginner or increase your daily meditation

To do the full course (c19 hours of lectures and interviews) go to: https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being

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