So now we are being told this is a second wave of infections. Like the waves on a beach (much nicer mental image) are different heights & strengths, let’s hope that this one is less scary big & more liveable with. However, many local areas are now having lockdown imposed, weather is not as warm as during the first wave, & it is more challenging to stay positive after six months of worry & extra restrictions.
This is the time to turn to science. Not for COVID but for happiness. Here are a few ideas, all scientifically researched, to help us stay positive.
- Firstly, accept that this is a challenging time. Accepting that it may be harder to find your inner smile or for laughter to bubble up in your chest is OK. Use this as motivation to do the next few ideas.
- Be grateful for what we have. Firstly, we have yoga, this provides us more awareness of how we feel internally than those people who don’t practice yoga. We have a roof over our heads, warm houses, good food, time to prepare that food. We have family & friends around us & the technology available to connect to those not so geographically close. Even if you just find gratitude for a good cuppa or a great book. Please find, & even better write down, 3 things every day you are grateful for
- Get outside. It may be colder & even raining, but that should only affect your choice of clothing not whether you get outside. Being in nature is proven to make you happier. Forest bathing is a lovely concept & more appropriate maybe in the Northwest’s often wet woodland when we really do get a bath!! If it’s really cold outside prepare yourself something hot for when you return home. A pampering bath, warming soup, a hot toddy. Make your return home something to look forward to!
- Keep moving…exercise is proven to lift your mood. Being fitter is proven to help your immune system so you’re on a double winner there! Add to that the fact that the more we move, the more cake we can eat & that should be reason enough to get off the sofa. Maybe get a Fitbit or use an app on your phone to ensure you up your step count. 10000 steps a day can seem a lot when it’s cold outside, but can you walk around the block, find reasons to pop upstairs, or my favourite is planting bulbs! It is amazing how many steps you do when gardening (& in our clay soil jumping up & down on spades to dig holes). Planting bulbs for spring is my little act of positivity, knowing that when they come up next year they will be worth getting a little soggy for! I have asked the neighbours if I can plant in their front hedges too! I have yet to meet a neighbour who doesn’t appreciate daffodils!
- Talk, & listen. Spend time with people you like. If you are in lockdown this may not be in person. However, where possible connect with people face to face. Laugh, giggle, reminisce. Maybe get a handsfree kit & chat to friends while you walk, clean or garden. This is where that technology is so good. Gone are the days of hunching over a phone connected to a wall, now we have facetime, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp to chat & so many ways to connect to friends.
- Did you know florists & hairdressers are amongst the happiest in their jobs? It is because we all like to see the fruits of our labour. Maybe you could find a new hobby, bake, garden, sew. Whatever you choose to do to be creative, know it will help you to be happier.
- Maintain a routine & purpose. Often when we retire or stop working we lose motivation & become depressed. Maintain a routine, get up, dressed, washed, have something to do each day. A sense of purpose is so important to being human. Even if that purpose is starting a yoga class! If you tell someone what you plan to do it is more likely to happen, if you write it down even more so. Maybe that is a use for social media…tell people on there what you plan to do
- Help other people. It’s selfish in a way as it helps you to feel better! We are all sharing this challenging time & effected in different ways, you maybe mourning a loss, a person or a business. Jobs have been lost, incomes reduced or removed. Volunteering time, friendship, or skills can be so welcome. We discovered community in the first lockdown, let us build on that in future months.
- Ask for help. It took me until my 30s to realise it often takes more strength to ask for help than to struggle alone! Loneliness can kill, financial hardship is scary, unemployment can leave us feeling pointless. Ask for help from friends, family, professionals. Generally, people are good & want to help (see above)
- Remember we are all different. Just like religion or hair styles, we all have different beliefs, different viewpoints, different histories. Be gentle not argumentative. We are sharing a challenging shared experience & will react in different ways. Our age, circumstances, anxiety levels & attitude to risk all differ & influence our behaviour. Think of community not individuals, be kind, be tolerant.
- Always be kind. To hedgehogs when you garden (they’re just going into hibernation), birds may need extra food in the next few months, to the elderly who may appreciate a smile or assistance, to the lonely & to yourself.