Time for Happy Hour! (No, it’s not what you think)

A few weeks ago, I taped some interview segments for The OWN Show – web exclusives for the Oprah Winfrey Network (that’s right, Oprah!!). The host of the show and I talked about a variety of health and nutrition issues, but the one theme we kept landing on was the influence of happiness on your health. You can watch the full clips below and comment on the OWN Facebook page!

There’s More to Health than Diet and Exercise

Watch these videos to find out how setting your own “happy hour,” “me time,” and editing your to-do list can improve your health and happiness, without an ounce of guilt.

Happiness & Healthy Choices

Take a Break from the To-Do List

What makes you happy?

I have a busy nutrition and health counseling practice here in Washington, D.C., and one of the things I work on with my clients is identifying things that are more important than weight when it comes to good health.  We talk about bloodwork, cholesterol, exercise, sleep, time management, stress, eating enough protein, fruits, and vegetables, getting some down time, and many other things … but the one thing we always end up talking the most about are the things that make us happy.  Why?

Well, when you’re happy you’re more likely to stick to your healthy habits like getting good exercise and eating well, which in turn engage the hormones and neurotransmitters that influence your happiness.  When your mood is down, you’re more likely to skip workouts, do some heavy-duty emotional overeating, and have difficulty sleeping.

Schedule a ‘Happy Hour’!

happy-47083_640So, one thing I ask my clients to do is schedule a once-a-week “Happy Hour.”  And, no, I’m not suggesting they scope out 5 o’clock drink specials (though, I’m not opposed to that every now and then)!   What I mean by Happy Hour is, I ask them to schedule one hour a week — just one hour a week — to do something that makes them happy.

You can’t cancel it, you have to protect it on their calendar, and I kinda prefer you not make it family-related.

I can just hear some of you now:  but, I’m already overscheduled!  I don’t have an hour!  I have too many commitments!  My family needs me!  My kids need to be driven places!

I understand.  I really do.  I work full-time (and have to travel a lot), I’m a mom, I have a husband I adore and another baby on the way.  I like to see friends, and I like to go do things with the people I love.  I have family far away that I worry about and want to see more.  And, I have a hard time balancing everything my life.  I do.  I’m not gonna lie.

But, I found that if I actually, physically scheduled that one hour a week, I really used it and it made a difference in how the rest of my week went.  Otherwise, I might’ve just hung around on Facebook a little longer, or done some housework, or just paid attention to everyone else but myself.

Practicing What I Preach

I make sure I schedule a Happy Hour every week, just like I tell my clients to do.  I make sure that hour is mine, all mine, and I do different things each week, depending on my mood:quote

  • Sometimes, I go for a walk outside because it helps me feel energetic, and I crave the Vitamin D from the sun.
  • Other times, I’ll watch TV alone in bed.
  • I’ll call a friend and just gab and laugh for an hour.  Laughter supports the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces pain, and promotes organ health.
  • Every now and then, I’ll go out for a coffee with a girlfriend and have a doughnut (or two).  What!  It makes me happy.  Even nutritionists eat doughnuts sometimes!
  • I’ll make a playlist and just sit and listen to songs I love and sometimes dance around.
  • Sometimes, I just take a nap.
  • One time, I spent an hour going through my HUGE to-do list and just crossed stuff off I knew I was *never* gonna do.  That felt amazing and lifted my spirits.

Scheduling a Happy Hour once a week is a great first step toward creating healthy habits that last a lifetime.  The world won’t end if you say “no” to them and “yes” to yourself. This is your Happy Hour and you need it. You deserve it.

Tell me what YOU are going to do with your very own Happy Hour!

Leave a comment below and tell me what you’re going to do during your own “Happy Hour”! Don’t forget to tweet your #HappyHour ideas to @ScritchfieldRD and #OWNshow!

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