How many times have you prioritised work over sleep? How often have you heard that you “can’t burn the candle at both ends”? And yet, sleeping 7 to 9 hours each night can still feel like a special treat rather than a day-to-day necessity. Likewise, grabbing the fresh fruit instead of the sausage roll when we are trying to eat better, or staying off social media for a day to get the benefits of a digital detox can feel strangely hard to do, even though we know we “should”.
Science tells us that we need to believe in what we’re doing if we want to change our behaviour. In fact, there are stacks of research articles saying the same thing: that information just isn’t enough to change our habits. For many of us, we need to see the evidence behind a recommendation before we put effort in to adopt it: Why is sleep so beneficial to our mental wellbeing? What is mindfulness, and does it really work? How can we increase our social connections and social support in ways that genuinely lift us up? Sometimes, understanding the science behind the things we know that we should be doing provides the push we need.
Check out these evidence-based resources that might sway you towards the wellbeing path:
- “The Science of Well-being” online course
“The Science of Well-being” is a free, online course offered by Yale University and taught by Professor of Psychology Laurie Santos. Professor Santos uses current, evidence-based findings from decades of psychology research to teach about what actually increases happiness (and what definitely does not). Through the course of the free 10-week course (suggested 3 hours each week), you can also set simple “rewirement” goals – things that can be easily changed in your daily life – with best-practice guidance on how to turn them into habits. Half a million people have already enrolled in this course – it broke registration records at Yale by being the most popular course ever offered. Did we mention that it’s totally free?
- “The Surprising Science of Happiness” TED Talk
If a 10-week course sounds like too much of a commitment, here is a 20-minute talk that covers some of the happiness basics. You might have already seen it (over 18 million people have) but Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert provides a timely (and comedic) refresher on the weird and wonderful ways humans can create happiness for themselves.
- “The Science of Happiness” podcast
If podcasts are more your style, we recommend tuning into “The Science of Happiness” produced by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California Berkeley. The podcast uses each episode to focus in on one evidence-based method to foster happiness and meaning. Episodes bring in guest interviewees, personal accounts, research, and easy-to-action recommendations – all tied together in a punchy and engaging 20-minute episode. These podcasts are the perfect length for your morning commute and an easy and accessible way to dip your toes in the world of happiness research.