The Happiness CircuitPosted: Sep 12 in Weight Loss Blog by Staff
People expect a lot of changes after weight loss surgery. Along with weight loss, people also look for reduced risk of disease and overall improved health. While these physical benefits help to make a lot of people feel happier, it is hard to guarantee that your weight loss surgeon will deliver happiness. In order to feel a bit cheerier, you need to engage in mindfulness activities like meditation and stress management tactics to improve your mental wellbeing.
The Science of Happiness
You might have thought happiness was subjective, but there is actually a lot of hard science behind what makes us smile and frown. When someone struggles with depression it can often be linked to low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter chemical that delivers messages throughout the brain. Neurotransmitter imbalances are also associated with anxiety and sleeping problems. Since depression and anxiety can be connected to neurological factors, it isn’t surprising that scientists can point to neurological signs of happiness in the brain.
Your brain has many different regions. The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain, and is broken up into a few regions of its own—including the frontal lobe which controls personality with factors like judgment skills, coordinated movements, problem solving and creative thought. The part of the frontal lobe associated with mood is the left pre-frontal cortex, and the more activity going on in this region of your brain the happier you’re going to feel.
While hearing about neurotransmitters and their connection to your mood might make you think you have no control over how you feel, that is not the case. By developing healthy habits and stress management strategies you can encourage your brain to produce the right amount of chemicals and actually manage your mood.
For example, after studying a group of employees at a biotech company for some time, Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin Madison found that meditating prompted a significant increase in activity in the left prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain associated with happiness. When meditating Tibetan monks were evaluated, their left prefrontal cortex was crazy with activity. The more activity participants displayed in this region of the brain, the greater their immune system was, the less anxiety they experienced and the more productive they felt.
You might think that losing weight is going to be the answer to all of your problems, but it’s imperative that you take the time to incorporate techniques to manage your stress and improve your mood as you lose weight. Whether you choose to do this through exercise, meditation or support groups is up to you. The more you manage your mental health, the happier you will be.
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