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  • Writer's pictureAlice Smith

Kinder Exeter: Positive Wellbeing with Vikki Barnes

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

June 16, 2021

Today’s lunchtime workshop was on positive wellbeing with Vikki Barnes. Vikki’s aim for the session was to give the group a boost of positivity for the day, and that she certainly did!

After working in the NHS as a clinical psychologist for 10 years, Vikki now helps organisations focus on people and wellbeing. Using the science of positive psychology, Vikki began the session explaining that whilst we often go to the GP or ask for help when something is going wrong, we should strive to introduce little bits of positivity, happiness and play all the time. To get us looking for positivity, participants were asked to keep a tally of ‘brain points’ they were clocking up throughout the session whenever they thought positive thoughts, found gratitude in nature, or completed an act of kindness.

As a psychologist, Vikki took the group through the science of happiness. She explained that our happiness centre is in the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain, and it lights up when we experience positive emotions. There are four main ‘happy hormones’: serotonin is released when we achieve something, dopamine is released in the approach to a reward, oxytocin is the love hormone that is released around people we feel comfortable with and during physical touch, and endorphins are released when we exercise. Vikki explained that endorphins are there for evolutionary purposes to mask pain with euphoria, however, the rush is only short term, so Vikki took us through how we can produce more serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin for the long term.

Participants then had an opportunity to have a go at releasing these happy hormones. The first task was to send a friend or family member a compliment. Boosting these happy hormones in both ourselves and the person receiving the message, people fed back how it made them feel. In a moment of collective happiness and compassion, participants noted how they decided to message more people compliments, with one person describing how the “sun starts to shine in [her] heart” when she has these kind exchanges with people.

Following this boost of happy connections, Vikki asked the group to look at the world through curious eyes. People began to notice things that may have always been there, like the budding roses in their back garden or the shade of blue in the sky, but they had not paid much attention to before this small mindful moment. This awareness sparked participants to find gratitude in nature and “the wonder of what this earth gives us every day” as one person remarked.

This gratitude for the little things in life made the group realise that there is no such thing as a bad day, as something positive can be found in every single day. To finish the session, participants shared their ‘brain points’ tally, and we ended the session with a group of happy people, sharing their positivity.

Join us in our Kinder Exeter workshops this week and keep finding joy in the little things!

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