Is it possible to stay happy when all you see and hear is bad news? Yes, it is possible!
Every person defines happiness differently. It all depends on personal experience and what you associate with the word ‘happy’. For some, it simply means being at peace as in a sanctuary. For some others it means being accepted amongst colleagues. Regardless of your concept of happiness, living a happier life is not impossible, but will take some effort to get there.
For many of us, the pandemic has caused chaos and as a result it is easy to allow scepticism to take hold of our lives . However, there are many things we still can control but fail to acknowledge – our attitude and actions. According to Charles Swindoll, “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it”. As clichéd as it sounds, we are all truly capable of being positive. The ultimate objective is of course, to be happy by having positive thinking but what is more important is take the first steps towards accomplishing that goal.
Here’s a look at some recommended habits to help kickstart your journey towards happiness:
Connect with other people. Physical distancing does not mean we have to be socially distanced. Find creative ways to stay connected to family, friends, and colleagues, especially when you feel lonely. You can try to call or meet up via video conferencing on computers or smartphones, send a gift like a COVID-19 Safety Kit or letters via email or mail, or send funny text messages or videos with a note that you are thinking of them.
Take self-care seriously
Give some TLC to your thoughts, passions, and spirit! All these contribute to your state of happiness. You can find many ways to unwind after a stressful workweek like taking a hot bath or bingeing on Netflix. Or adopting a skin care routine that makes you feel indulgent. You can also create a short list of things you can do daily, to break mundane domestic routines. Make exciting plans for the future so that you have something to look forward to and to think about, other than work stress. Whatever it is, make time for it.
People generally react better in natural spaces, and spending time with nature and in nature can both reduce stress and increase creativity. Sure, we may have to work a bit harder to access nature right now, but if you can put in that extra effort, you won’t regret it! Experience nature in any way possible, even if it means only looking at a photo of the outdoors. If you are feeling down but have the means to leave the house, treat yourself to some quiet time outdoors.
Do you know that a messy bedroom has been linked with difficulty in sleeping, and messy kitchens with making poor health choices? Decluttering sounds like an endless project, so don’t dream big on this. Try spending 20 minutes a week ‘Kondo-ing’ your home and joyfully ask yourself whether a certain item ‘sparks joy’. Believe me, decluttering can have a big impact on how your now clean surrounding makes you feel. So, take this opportunity to clean your house during this period. If you are going to be spending more time at home, it will be worth your while getting your living spaces in order. Cleaning or decluttering is your way of taking control of your situation and your mind.
Improve sleep hygiene
A good night’s sleep is hard to come by when your mind is overflowing with work deadlines and submissions. But rest is crucial to both physical and mental well-being. If you constantly fight the urge to nap during the day or feel lethargic, your body may be telling you it needs more rest. What you can do to get yourself some quality sleep, is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. You can also reserve the hour before bed as quiet time by reading or listening to music to relax your mind. Keep your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet; and invest in some good bedding. Ensure you take extra measures to at least try to regulate your sleep.
Set yourself goals and targets every day and build up your self-confidence by recognising your achievements and successes. Reward yourself with a treat once you have successfully completed your tasks. Setting realistic goals and working towards them will help you see more success than failures.
Write down your thoughts
A journal is a good way to organize your thoughts, analyse your feelings, and make plans. And you don’t have to be a literary genius to benefit from this simple activity. When we write, it helps to remind us of the small things that bring us happiness. It also provides us with an archive of everything that has made us happy in the past, which we can reflect upon later. It can be as simple as jotting down a few thoughts before you go to bed. If putting certain things in writing makes you nervous, you can always throw it away when you have finished writing. It’s the process that counts.
Acknowledge unhappy moments
It’s impossible to not feel unhappy at times. A positive attitude is generally a good thing, but bad things happen to everyone. If you feel down because of some bad news or a mistake that you have made, don’t try to pretend you’re happy. It’s tiring to keep up the act. You need to acknowledge the feeling of unhappiness. Then, find healthy and safe ways to get over it. Remember, be kind to yourself.
Face stress head-on
There’s no need avoid stress if it’s something unavoidable in the first place. What you need to always remember is that you are not the only one in the Universe of Major Stress. And chances are, you are stronger than you think you are. Instead of letting yourself get worked up, try to tackle the stressor head-on. This might mean initiating an uncomfortable conversation or putting in some extra work, but the sooner you tackle it, the closer you are to returning to your happy universe.
Let go of grudges
Sometimes, offering forgiveness or dropping a grudge is more about self-care than compassion for others. So, it’s important to take stock of your relationships. If you are harbouring any resentment or ill will toward someone, consider reaching out to them to bury the hatchet – either through reconciliation or to end the relationship and move on. If you can’t reach out for whatever reason, just get those burdensome feelings out of your mind, and start anew.
Create A Positive Environment
When it comes to staying positive, you start by creating a positive environment and spreading positivity to others in that environment. When creating a positive environment for yourself, surround yourself with positive people that bring you up, support you, and want only the best for you. Avoid bringing yourself into situations that do not add value to your life or increase your level of happiness. Being positive starts with changing your perspective on how you see things. If you believe something is negative, then it probably will be (and vice versa).
Listen To Music
Your playlist is your refuge. It’s an archive of songs and music that you like and which are often connected to memories and life experiences. Science says that rhythmic tunes alter the speed of our brain waves and that slower beats help us feel calmer. Music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. If you find yourself listening to music more than usual, it could mean you are unconsciously trying to make yourself feel happy. Whether you listen to it or play it, have a blast if it makes you happy!
Smile & Laugh More
Smiling is key when it comes to staying positive in a negative environment. When you smile, it also makes you happy. It’s as simple as that! Practice smiling even when you don’t feel like it. Maybe the next time you find yourself feeling low, crack a smile and see what happens. Or try starting each morning by smiling at yourself in the mirror. You should also try to incorporate more laughter into your day while at home with the family or while at work. Laughter is a coping mechanism so watch your favourite stand-up comedian on YouTube when you feel like a bit of laughter to help boost your happy state.
Colour Your Life
Colours affect your mood. Everyone has a favourite colour so fill your surroundings with colours that calm you. Research has proven how colour can affect our emotions. According to researchers, eating yellow foods and wearing bright yellow clothing cheer people up more than any other colour. Red makes you stay alert; blue is all about calmness and serenity, and green represents nature and peacefulness. Choose the colour that brings out the best in you and be happy!
With the global pandemic restricting people to the confines of their homes, borders being shut and economic instability being a reality, it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed by the state of the world now. What this adds up to is how complicated the science of emotions really is. In the end, it comes down to the fact that our emotions depend on ourselves and our state of being. Our emotions depend on our individual responses to life itself. The most important thing to keep in mind is that happiness is good for your overall health so to stay healthy, make yourself happy.
References: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200317-covid-19-how-to-stay-happy-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak https://extension.usu.edu/covid-19/stay-happy-stay-healthywww.today.com/health/7-ways-feel-happier-during-coronavirus-pandemic-t179220 https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-be-happy#yearly-habits