How to Be Happier in January Than in July
Do you suffer from the winter blues—or something deeper—this time of year? Here are nine ways to get through the bitterest days.
Resort to the Cocoa Cure
Perhaps the most compelling way to warm up to winter: hot chocolate. The wintertime treat is rich in chemicals that enhance dopamine, a neurotransmitter than boosts mood. Compared to controls, volunteers who drank a cocoa drink in a recent study at Northumbria University in Britain performed better on cognitive tasks, had more mental stamina
and were in better spirits. Credit goes to chemicals called flavonols—compounds in cocoa that have been found to increase cerebral blood flow and brain activity.
Even if all you do is clutch the cozy, steaming mug, you may find yourself feeling more positive and receptive. In an experiment at Yale University, researchers asked volunteers to handle a hot cup
before evaluating a stranger. Compared to people who held a cold cup, hot-handlers gave the stranger more favorable ratings, perceiving her as warmer. It’s a trick of the insula: Physical warmth activates the same neural circuits in the brain associated with feelings of emotional warmth. Warmer hands, warmer heart.