Need a Quick Mood Boost? Try Shaking Up Your Routine

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Trying out a new running route or changing up your usual playlist can make a difference.

concluded that new and diverse experiences are linked to higher levels of happiness—and that, in turn, leads to more brain activity.

Researchers looked at 132 people between the ages of 18 and 31, living in either New York or Miami. The participants were tracked continuously for three to four months, and were sent short questionnaires at random times every other day to assess their emotional states. They found that on days when people had more variability in their physical location, such as visiting more places or going somewhere new, their assessments were positive, with words like “relaxed,” “happy,” “excited,” and “attentive.”

To determine the effect on brain activity, about half of the subjects agreed to return to a laboratory for an MRI scan. The neuroimaging found that those who had the most exposure to diverse experiences and the strongest positive feelings had more brain activity in the hippocampus and striatum—the regions of the brain associated with processing new experiences and feeling a sense of reward.

“Our work suggests that new and diverse experiences are linked to positive emotions, and the engagement of this brain circuit might promote greater desire to explore even more,” study coauthor“We feel happier when we have variety in our daily routines and, in turn, we are more likely to seek out novel experiences when we are in a more

 

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