Doesn’t it feel as if a decade has flown by, not just a year? Our lives have been knocked for six. What a year. 2020 will be one of those landmark years that will forever be rooted in our collective consciousness. Think Edvard Munch “The Scream”. 😉
Have to admit I hit writers block trying to write about this year and make sense of it. Would one more article on how to feel better really make a difference? Over the past 10 months it seems every nook and cranny of self help advice has been explored; from what to watch on Netflix to the ultimate banana bread recipe.
So I’ve dithered. Then I posted an idea on Instagram and started giving it some more thought. By the way come on over and say hello!
What I’ve come up with is this. I’m not sure of the answer to surviving a pandemic, but I believe the only thing within our control is our mood. How we control the way we feel about it all.
Here’s my theory on how to beat the pandemic blues and find a safe spot amongst the gloom.
If you know what makes you happy, just do it.
Don’t stop and analyze why you want what you want. Just go do it, starting now.
Why wait and postpone what you want and need?
Is it because we (or perhaps me) have gotten into the habit of saying, “I’ll do that someday, just not today.” “I’ll wait and be happier when it’s more convenient” or “When I have the time to figure out what it will take to get me there.”
No one knows what you need better than you do.
No one is going to hand you a list of things that will help you be happier and more content. Time has a way of stretching until it snaps. Like 2020 did. So putting off happiness is like avoiding using real butter. It’s a false virtue.
Are you willing to be happier NOW?
Don’t be surprised if when you start thinking about what makes you happy, a little twinge of guilt kicks in. Shouldn’t others’ happiness be as important as our own? What right do we have to think about our own pleasure with the world reeling from a pandemic?
Resist that feeling of guilt or unworthiness.
You serve no one by being less happy.
Here’s another way to think about getting happier.
Instead of thinking of happiness or contentment as something we need to get, perhaps visualize uncovering it. Happiness has always been there percolating in our soul. It just gets smothered from time to time in life sauce. Or gravy if you prefer.
2020 has been the ultimate test of how a naturally healthy mood can get smothered. Perhaps you started the year thinking; “Hey ho I’ve got this”. Then all of a sudden the sauce hit the fan and your naturally happy self was deluged with pandemic induced fears. An entirely natural response by the way.
But YOU are still underneath the life sucking sauce. You still know what it takes to makes you happy.
This year we’ve had to get a little creative, but trust me. Our inner 16 year old is still kicking and ready to go out and play.
When life seems a little out of control, I remind myself I’m the only one who gets to control my mood. I’m ready to be in a good one, how about you?
Do What Makes You Happy Hints
Music has the power to put me into the flow of feeling instead of thinking. I turn up something with a beat, play it loud and start dancing.
- What takes you out of your head and into your body?
Watching a funny video or show, preferably from another decade and laughing out loud is the best distraction ever. I’ve watched all 10 seasons of Friends this year. Again.
- I like to keep it light, but perhaps getting immersed in a good drama or scary movie is your escape?
Bake, cook or create.
From whipping up a batch of favorite cookies to concocting a new soup recipe, cooking is the perfect diversion when I want to focus on something besides the news.
- If you’re not a baker, what can you sew or craft to lose yourself in a fiddly time-consuming project?
My goal is to do something every day. It could be walking 3-4 miles or working out to a hip hop fitness class on Youtube if the weather is vile. Working up a sweat and staying fit makes us feel better and virtuous at the same time. Walking is free, but so is lifting weights or cycling.
- Can you pick a routine you enjoy and make it a habit?
From smelling the roses as I walk by to appreciating the sweet trills of birds, being in nature soothes my soul. The great outdoor is always there when we need it. Now that I live in England one of the side benefits of walking everywhere is getting to soak up a mood boost from Mother Nature.
- Can you squeeze more nature and fresh air into your day?
Little treats like picking up a bunch of grocery store flowers or a pretty new nail polish are inexpensive ways to remind myself I’m worthy of pleasure no matter what else is going on in the world. Let’s not forget the healing power of a bubble bath!
- Could you give yourself an at home manicure or treat yourself to a new bottle of delicious smelling foaming bath salts?
Plan an adventure.
Planning a trip or a day out gives me something to look forward to. I’ll get immersed in train schedules, Airbnb rates and getting in touch with the friends or family I want to visit.
- What plan would make you happy just thinking of the possibilities? Dream about where you want to go and start mentally taking the steps to make it a reality.
I first discovered yoga when I was newly separated. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have two such wonderful teachers. At a Y class! Now after I’ve had my tea and cereal I set aside 20-25 minutes every morning to practice. The discipline alone makes me feel in control.
- What stretching exercise can you do on the regular to show your body some love?
OK this is a biggie, I’m not going to lie. It bugs me when we’re told to get more sleep. Well duh! Who doesn’t want to sleep like a baby! I’ve realized that a good nights sleep is a key ingredient to my mood. When Tessa is tired, she finds it harder to keep happy. So what I do is keep a pretty strict evening and morning routine. In bed by 9ish, read and wind down with lights out around 10ish. No screens after 9, no TV in the bedroom. No bad news after 6 PM at all (bye bye evening news). Up between 7-7:30 every day.
There’s a million and one articles about sleeping better but trust me, over time you’re the one who needs to tweak your sleep schedule to get it working for you.
- How can you make getting a good nights sleep a priority in your day?
Understand what makes you happy and do it.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? But you also need to get good at recognizing those little signs that tell you you’re off track or just bobbing above water. For me, it’s losing my appetite or the ability to guffaw out loud at something I used to find funny.
- What tells you you’re slipping too far away from feeling content?
Make corrections pronto. Just as a captain needs to keep an eye on the wind to adjust a sail, you need to keep an eye on your well being. Nurture your mind, body and soul relentlessly. Stop and take the time you need to adjust your course before you get lost in unhappy thoughts or fears. Keep tweaking your day until it fits your needs. Get very familiar with knowing what you need to be content and happy.
Don’t give away your energy to anyone else until you’ve taken care of numero uno. I mean it. Your happiness and survivability depend on it. When you’re happy, those who love you will be too.