These are crazy times. Mass shootings. Random bombings and attacks. Politics gone wild (whatever side you’re on). Nightly news our kids shouldn’t watch (sexual harassment, grabbing and groping…) . It’s all just too much. Then add the holidays to the mix and… Sigh. No wonder we’re eating or drinking too much – or just hiding under the covers.
So, what can you do to be happier right now and melt mounting stress? Here are a few simple suggestions – good any time of year.
Connect with Nature – Go out into your backyard, courtyard or a local park. Just get outside and breathe. Silence your phone. Put it away and be still. Look at the trees, listen to the birds. Watch squirrels. Gaze at the clouds. Just do this for five minutes – maybe 10 — and keep breathing. Nature is restorative. Reflection helps calm you. Pausing amid all the rushing can feel like a wonder drug. Try it.
Go for a walk. Walking is a natural tonic for the body and the mind. You can walk alone, if you need some time to think. Or you can invite a friend or even join one of Healthy Central Florida’s weekly walking groups. (Find us on Meet Up.org.) We have friendly people and walk in stunning areas (see group in front of lake on our Winter Park walk). We see rabbits, birds, sunrises and clouds – and we have great conversations. Newcomers are always warmly welcomed.
Get ‘er Done – Get that stuff that is making you feel overwhelmed, out of your head and onto a piece of paper. Make a simple plan. Delegate, delete or enlist help to get it done. What is important? Tackle it or delegate it. Or, think, who could you pay or enlist to help you (a friend, a child, your partner, a professional service)? If it must be done, take the first step and you’ll feel instant relief. If it can go, cross it off the list. That will feel great too.
Connect. Hug a friend.
Look into your partner’s eyes, or your child’s – or even a close friend. Ask them to look into your eyes and you don’t have to say a thing. Just look – and drink this person in. Pretty soon you’ll both be smiling – maybe laughing. You might add, “I love you.” It only takes a minute to connect. When was the last time you REALLY looked into someone’s eyes? Try it. You’ll be glad you did. We also recommend Chip and Dan Heath’s new book – “The Power of Moments” – all about how to create memorable moments for people you love.
Surprise! Your brain is itching for something new, for novelty. We get bored easily and unexpected situations give a powerful sense of satisfaction. So perhaps you can add “try new things”―learn a language, bike a new trail, visit a new city” to your New Year’s resolutions. People who try new things are happier than those who stick to familiar activities.
Pet Your Pet. Did you know that research shows us that the simple act of stroking the fur of your cat or dog releases feel-good endorphins and lowers your heart rate? It also make them happy. Everybody wins.
Don’t treat the blues with a “treat.” Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says, “Often the things I choose as “treats” aren’t good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it’s easy to think, I’ll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans, it’s worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.”
We’d love to hear your happiness strategies – and we wish you and yours a healthy, HAPPY 2018!