Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Cultivating Happiness

We are in a time of uncertainty as we watch numbers of those infected by the coronavirus climb while many of us are worried.  If you are deemed an essential worker, you worry about being exposed to the virus because you have to work but if you are one whose job disappeared, you worry about unemployment, about surviving.  Through all this, stress levels are growing and happiness seems hard to find but it is possible to cultivate happiness in the midst of all of this.

It might seem hard to cultivate happiness or even wonder why one should try to be happy but it has been found that happiness has some real benefits.  It appears that when a person has a positive attitude, the immune system is boosted, and protection from respiratory viruses is built.

There are ways to cultivate happiness and none of them takes much.  First,  it is imperative to take extra good care of yourself and make sure to include some form of exercise.  Research has shown that taking a 12 minute walk can produce a much lighter and happier mood.  Exercise can be as simple as walking or doing light yoga if you aren't much for doing a 45 minute cardio workout.  

Next, one should begin to meditate because it fosters inner happiness by slowing down to meditate.  Meditation causes the neurochemicals that makes us feel better. In addition, it also helps reduce stress activated such as cortisol and adrenaline.  If you don't know where to start, there are several apps one could download or check the internet for websites. 

Third, work on getting enough good sleep at night.  This can be especially hard during the pandemic because you're worried about so many things but sleep is important to both physical and mental well being.  One way to regulate sleep is to set an alarm to remind you to go to bed so you go to bed at the same time every night.  I've found going to bed with a book about an hour before I want to go to sleep, helps me ease into being tired enough to sleep.  

Fourth, take advantage to technology to stay in contact with others.  Social interaction is important to staying happy because most of us have a need to interact with others.  Most humans are not made to be alone.  If any member of your family is not good with technology, teach them so they can use technology to stay in touch or make a point of calling them on a regular basis.

Then work on decluttering your house because too much clutter can get in the way of positive feelings.  In addition, one should take time to make the bed and clean up regularly so the house shines so you feel happier.  Since many offices and schools are closed, there are often more people in the house than normal and it can get cluttered quite rapidly but it is important to take the time to clean everything up.

It has been shown that when we connect with nature, we undergo less stress and have better general health.  Being in natural environments helps lower brain activity in the frontal lobes thus helping our brains to relax. Unfortunately, many of the national parks and forests are closed and one isn't able to travel due to restrictions so how do you interact with nature?  Pull up pictures!  There is research to indicate that just looking at pictures of nature can do the same thing as actually being outside. 

Finally one should be thankful for what they have.  In addition to writing down the things you are grateful for, it is important to thank everyone you interact with because you feel happier when you thank people. I realize this can be extremely difficult when life doesn't seem to be going well but when we do these small things, we can feel so much better and happier.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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