Whether or not you actually experience seasonal affective disorder, February can be a challenging month. Aside from the fact that we’re in the throes of winter with seemingly no end in sight, Valentine’s Day tends to bring up some difficult emotions. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, heed the advice of neuroscientist Alex Korb, Ph.D., who shares his best happiness insights (all based on brain research) in his book The Upward Spiral.
As Popsugar reports, the act of simply labeling your difficult emotions tops Korb’s list of tips. “If you’re feeling a negative emotion like sadness or anger, label that emotion,” explains the publication. It may sound trivial, but your brain actually relaxes when you put your feelings into words. Popsugar cites an fMRI study mentioned in the book, which found that when participants named a particular emotion (as opposed to strictly viewing a photo of someone experiencing that emotion), there was reduced activity in the emotional amygdala region of the brain. In other words, labeling emotions reduced the impact of them at a neurological level.
“It’s so simple and yet has such a profound effect that I’m amazed this isn’t taught in schools,” said Reddit user letstablethisfornow, who has successfully used this tactic themselves. “The effect is subtle since you are not actually removing the emotion, you just take one step away from it intellectually. When you label, you become more aware of your emotions, don’t get carried away with them, and will be less likely to fall into this trap.”
Head over to Popsugar for the full story.