Happiness hacks: Lift your mood with these 3 tips

Make a list, take a hike and be kind to others and 4 Ways To Free Up 1 Hour of Your Day

For those who live to list

Tackling your to-do list can give you a boost, and there’s science behind it. Checking something off the list delivers an instant stress-busting dopamine hit to your brain, says Paula Rizzo, author of Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You (Mango, $16.95), a follow-up to Listful Thinking (Viva Editions, $15.95).

“Once you get everything off your mind and onto paper, it’s an amazing relief,” says Rizzo, a self-professed compulsive list-maker. “But list-making goes beyond to-dos. You can use a list to write out what you’d like more of in your life. Then you can use that list to work towards sprinkling those tasks into your day.”

Rizzo, for instance, loves to travel, but since she can’t right now, she finds ways to “go on a trip.” On Saturday mornings, she watches old episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe to transport herself to new places. The productivity pro is also hatching plans to host a virtual European wine and food tasting tour for her 40th birthday to “bring the things that I love into my life,” she says.

“I’m producing an entire event, and it’s making my lists full, but happy,” Rizzo says.

To kick up your list skills, head over to listproducer.com for a free “List Making Starter Kit.”

Step it up

Need a mental boost? Take a hike. Studies show hikers are happier. Navigating a nature hike delivers a heart-pumping full-body workout and is also good for our minds. Hitting the trail can improve our mood and boost creativity and attention, and it has been shown to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Nature hikes appear to offer the most benefits, but mounting evidence suggests any nearby green space that provides the outcome we want — whether it’s exercise, unplugged solitude or a place to socialize — can be a powerful prescription for health.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area offers a trove of peaceful hiking escapes. For a detailed list, head to theurbanoutdoors.com/hiking-in-near-dallas-fort-worth or check out these suggestions at dallasnews.com.

A spoonful of kindness

Being kind is not only good to do, it’s good for you and others, too. Research shows performing just one random act of kindness a day can reduce stress, anxiety and depression and flood the body with the same hormones that make you — and the person you’ve helped — calmer, healthier, happier and more energized, according to research compiled by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. When we give of ourselves, we boost serotonin, which helps us relax and feel good. The practice of kindness can also stimulate endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller, and it produces oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone” that lowers blood pressure and improves overall heart health. Kindness is so powerful that even witnessing acts of goodwill has been shown to improve mood and make a person more likely to “pay it forward.” For ideas and inspiration on how to make kindness the norm, head to randomactsofkindness.org.

Listful Living by Paula Rizzo

Listful Living

A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You

A best-selling author and Emmy-award winning television producer for nearly 20 years, Paula Rizzo produced health, wellness, and lifestyle segments with a range of top experts, including JJ Virgin, Jillian Michaels, and Deepak Chopra. Rizzo brings her experience to this new project. Readers will learn their stress style and strategies for shaping their days in more productive ways. With self-assessments and exercises, this guide will bring readers to better patterns and better, more organized lives.

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