Video: Finding happiness at any age

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    for younger looking skin: choose from.

    >>> this morning in "today's health," beating back the blues. life, of course, is filled with ups and downs , but before you let a bad mood turn you stressed and depressed, there are some things you can do every day to be happy at any age. dr. roshini raj is director of "health" magazine and a "today" contributor. nice to see you again.

    >> nice to see you, al.

    >> now, are there actually different things that trigger off the blues and depression, depending on your age?

    >> sure, because at different ages, going through different stages of our life, we're dealing with different stresses and there are different ways you can combat it at every age.

    >> okay. so, let's start with the 30s.

    >> okay.

    >> what are the triggers that get us going and then what can you do to combat that?

    >> well, this is a time of intense stress because a lot of people are really gearing up in their careers, so they're working very hard. you know, women are often raising young children at this time or getting pregnant, and these can be very stressful times. so, it can be very overwhelming, but there are definitely some things you can do, and the first thing to look at is actually your diet. there are actually some foods that have some feel-good chemicals. tryptophan is one, that can boost serotonin in your brain and really raise your mood. turkey, chicken, salmon, about one portion every day would be a great way to elevate your mood.

    >> kind of like clean proteins.

    >> exactly.

    >> another foods you should avoid that trigger problems?

    >> well, sugar, because it can give you that rush, but soon afterwards you get a low sugar crash and that can depress your mood.

    >> then for pms , what are some of the things --

    >> so, pms is one thing where a lot of women suffer it a lot during their 30s because that's when your hormone levels are really raging, and there are definitely things in your diet to avoid there. salty foods you should avoid. it can lead to a lot of bloating. exercise is also great for pms .

    >> what about some of the stresses of building a career and raising a family?

    >> so, we all are, you know, undergoing a lot of stress, men, women in their 30s. but one thing you really have to learn to do is say no. you know, you can't always please everyone. as women --

    >> that's my default, no.

    >> oh, really? because for most women , their default is yes. we're trained to be sort of pleasing, and you have to choose what you're going to do. a good rule of thumb is if you're looking forward to it, say yes, but if you're dreading it, say no. and delegate. you're not the only person who can do everything. women , mothers especially, think i'm the only one who can pick out my kid's dress. you know what, your husband can do it. it might not be the perfect dress, but it's a dress.

    >> as long as they're clothed, that's all that matters.

    >> exactly.

    >> and you say get a massage, too.

    >> this is great for pregnant women or women with young children. this is a time when you're not pampering yourself, but getting a massage. i don't mean spending $100 on it, but have your partner do it. it's a great way to reconnect, have some intimacy, which is also lost in the having a newborn kid phase.

    >> let's move into the 40s. what are some issues we'll be facing?

    >> well, in the 40s, again, you're dealing with a lot of problems with stress, and you know, your hormones are raging again. you want to really exercise, you know, at least 20 minutes , three times a week is very good for sleep.

    >> doing cardio.

    >> cardio exercise, exactly. it's good for sleep problems because that can also lead to depression as well.

    >> and when we hit our 40s, now a lot of women , and men, but women , too, are not only caring for their kids, who are now moving into their preteens, but they're caring for aging parents.

    >> right. so, we call this the sandwich generation because you're caring for your parents who may not be able to care for themselves, also dealing with children. it's very important at this time to take time for yourself, some alone time, even if it means getting up half an hour earlier, taking an extra long shower, going for a walk. it can really help you regroup and recenter yourself.

    >> when you're in your 40s and, you know, you've got issues not only with your kids, you've got your parents, but you also have your spouse. what are some of the issues you can deal with there?

    >> well, i think it's very important to focus on your relationship. it's very easy at this point, you're sort of getting in a rut, you do the same old routine. make a date night, do extra activities with your spouse and prioritize them. because if you don't take care of that relationship, it's not going to just thrive on itself.

    >> right, okay. now we move into our 50s. and when it comes to the 50s, you know, you're kind of set in your ways, your career is where it should be. your kids are probably off and going. you would think this is probably the easy time. what are the stresses?

    >> well, just as you said, your kids are off. that's sort of the empty nest syndrome . for some people, that can lead to depression, actually. but you should really embrace that free time and do something new, a new hobby. there's nothing like helping other people that makes you feel good. so, maybe going for a charity or a cause, volunteering. that's a great way to decrease your stress and make you feel better.

    >> also when you reach your 50s, exercise is probably even more important than it was in your 40s.

    >> right. i mean, you really need to exercise more because your metabolism is slowing down by this point. so, now we're talking about 30 minutes every single day is a great way to keep fit and keep your mood up.

    >> what about hormone therapy , replace those hormones?

    >> sure. so, during menopause, which is happening usually during this decade, your falling estrogen levels can affect your mood, they can affect dryness in the pelvic area, your sexual pleasure. so hormone therapy is an option. there are some risks to it. you need to talk to your doctor about it. but you can also use topical hormone therapy to deal with some issues related to sex.

    >> and the good news is, in your 50s, especially for men and women , you may actually end up having a little more free time because the kids are up and running and doing their own thing. this is where you really focus on yourself.

    >> exactly. focus on yourself on exercising, getting sleep, traveling and really just enjoying yourself.

    >> and if you're like our director, about to hit 60, just give up. [ laughter ]

    >> i would never say that. never too late to give

updated 3/4/2010 5:25:36 PM ET 2010-03-04T22:25:36

Happy people tend to talk more than unhappy people, and when they do, it tends to be less small talk and more substance, a new study finds.

A group of psychologists from the University of Arizona and Washington University in St. Louis set out to find whether happy and unhappy people differ in the types of conversations they tend to have.

For their study, volunteers wore an unobtrusive recording device called the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) over four days. The device periodically records snippets of sounds as participants go about their lives.

For this experiment, the EAR sampled 30 seconds of sounds every 12.5 minutes yielding a total of more than 20,000 recordings.

Researchers then listened to the recordings and identified the conversations as trivial small talk or substantive discussions. In addition, the volunteers completed personality and well-being assessments.

Here's what the researchers found:

The happiest participants spent 25 percent less time alone and 70 percent more time talkingthan the unhappiest participants. The happiest participants also had twice as many substantive conversations and one-third as much small talk as the unhappiest participants.

The findings, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, suggest that happy lives are social and conversationally deep, rather than solitary and superficial.

The researchers think that deep conversations may have the potential to make people happier, though the findings from this study don't identify cause-and-effect between the two.

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