Lockdown 2.0 - 3 tips to help you be happy
Ok, the current situation, wherever you are in the UK, isn’t great at the minute, but you are still allowed to feel happy in yourself! Here are three ways in which you can up your happiness level and feel positive!
Be mindfully kind to yourself
Nobody wants to be in lockdown - even the most introverted soul would rather have a choice in it. It is at times like this that you really do need to be kind to yourself.
However, it is really important to notice the difference between things that have a genuinely positive effect on us and those actions that are really an excuse for self-sabotage. So just ask yourself if you are still going to feel good about your choice by the end of the day. If the answer is ‘yes’, then go for it. If the answer is ‘no', ask what you can do instead that will. You might find that even though your thought process began with ploughing through a whole pack of biccies, what you choose is to get out for a walk and allow yourself just one or two at the end of the day - and feel genuinely good about it.
There isn’t any ‘right’ or wrong’ in this, it’s simply a way of mindfully assessing what being kind to yourself really means for you.
Be there for others
It is widely documented that giving our time or expertise to help others has a positive mental impact on the receiver (as you might expect) but possibly even more so for the giver. Not only do we often get to see the effect of our involvement, it also gives us a sense of purpose and allows us to feel valued. These are key elements in healthy mental well-being.
It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture, it can be as simple as sending a positive message to a friend or getting in touch with a relative who can’t get out much at the moment. It is great if you can manage to volunteer or offer a service that may be otherwise inaccessible, but never underestimate the power of reaching out. Also don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate response, it is better to simply acknowledge that you are putting positivity out there and see any response as a bonus.
Write your happiness list
What makes you happy? Notice, it probably isn’t the opposite of what makes you unhappy. We spend quite a lot of time trying to avoid or navigate the things that make us unhappy, in an effort to try and be happy. Although there is a balance to be struck, avoiding one does not create the other. For example, not being able to pay a bill can certainly leave us feeling worried and unhappy. That’s completely valid. However I don’t know many people who were overjoyed at the prospect of paying their council tax bill!
The reason that this relationship is important is because it means that although there may be things in our life that were aren’t happy with or want to change, it doesn’t mean we can’t be happy in ourselves. In fact the more happiness we can bring into our lives, the more likely we are to be able to handle the things we want to change.
This is where your happiness list comes in. Write a list of everything that you can think of that makes you happy. Now, test each one by asking, “Does this actually make me feel happy?” If the answer is yes, leave it on the list. Now note down exactly what it is about it that allows you to feel that way, or what you particularly enjoy about it.
Once you have done so, grade each idea as a 1, 2 or 3. Those that are in the 1 category are the easiest to achieve, they are things that might cost nothing or you can make happen easily - like taking your dog for a walk or listening to your favourite music. In category 2 are the things that take a little planning but are still very achievable - maybe taking someone else’s dog for a walk or organising a good chat with a friend. In category 3 are the bigger things that take more time, money or organisation.
Each week make sure you do at least three things from category 1 on your list and aim to do something in category 2 at least once or twice a month - every week if that’s possible. It is also important to check in with your category 3 list once a month and ask if there’s anything you can do now to help you achieve it in the future.
As you go add to your happiness list each time you think of something or experience something that makes you happy. Before long you’ll have a whole bank of ideas to lift your spirits and help you to feel good.
Although the situation with Covid is far from ideal - and it has hit some more than others - we all deserve the right to be happy. There is light at the end of the tunnel now, with the advent of a new vaccine. It may not be a quick fix and it won’t repair all that has gone before, but if we care for ourselves, look out for others and actively work toward creating the life we want, things will change for the better.
Remember, you never need to be on your own. Whether it is professional support in the form of coaching or simply getting in contact with a friend, help and support is out there for you. Never feel embarrassed about reaching out - we all deserve to be happy!