As society as we know it appears to come crashing down, it can be easy to lose sight of our own mental health. Although the world, and the billions of people who inhabit it, are certainly facing a massive challenge, we are incredibly resilient. We can find happiness in the littlest of things — and it’s achievable for anyone. Here are three methods you can use during this time of uncertainty to take control of your well-being, stay positive, and elevate an otherwise-stressful day.
Meditation is the practice of intentionally turning your attention away from distracting thoughts toward a single point of reference. Meditation allows humans to actively cut back on the default process of mind-wandering (which often results in stress or anxiety), while also bringing forward both an increase in mental stability and happiness. Start with something simple; try to concentrate all of your focus on your breathing for a few minutes, or try to count to 100 without thinking of anything else except the numbers. By devoting just five to ten minutes per day to meditation, one can notice many long-term benefits. Be sure to log sessions, as well, in order to turn meditation into a longstanding habit. You can find many guided mediation sessions on platforms such as Youtube and SoundCloud, but many apps, like “Calm” (available on App Store and Google Play) or “Headspace” are an easier way to get started.
Test out your meditation skills with this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeGT1VXwfx4
Increase Social Connection
Believe it or not, being stuck under quarantine with your family also creates an opportunity to increase your social connections.
“Social distancing does not mean social isolation,” Professor of Psychology at Yale University, Laurie Santos said in a recent email. In fact, maintaining social contact with family is a crucial factor in staying sane. Social isolation, or no physical interactions with individuals, will likely result in increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
Countless psychological studies have shown that being more socially connected makes us happier. With platforms such as Skype and Zoom at our fingertips, there are no excuses for lack of quality social connection during this temporary period of social distancing. Have a friend you haven’t spoken to since school? Make an effort and reach out to them over the phone. Confined to the house with family? Propose a family walk; even the smallest efforts can have drastic effects on your well-being. Even writing a letter to a family member out of town will be beneficial to yourself and your family member.
Another proven method to generally improve your outlook on the current situation is expressing thankfulness. The process of taking time to feel grateful for the good things in life, as well as savoring the good thoughts and memories, is directly connected to so many positive benefits. Gratitude journaling can be simple; write down five things you are grateful for each day on the notes app. It can also be a more involved activity; find a journal and write down what you’re thankful for, then decorate the pages. Not only is it something to be proud of, but it will take up some of your excess time.
For more information and tips on how to increase your happiness, check out Dr. Laurie Santos’ podcast, The Happiness Lab, or her free course on Coursera. She offers numerous podcasts on how to coach yourself through anxiety, keep relationships healthy, and helping others to help yourself.
Featured image by free pik