Mostly I’m all about positivity and happiness. I love nothing more than having a giggle, looking on the bright side (with a healthy dose of sarcasm and swearing of course) doing things that make me smile and generally making the most out of life.
But I’m all about reality too. And right now… reality is giving us all a bit of a battering!
Lockdown 3 has arrived and whilst we might have seen it coming – even welcomed it perhaps – this time round. That doesn’t make the impact any less.
As stressful the school run can be, it’s nothing compared with the struggle of home schooling! Just 30 minutes of home schooling is usually enough to reduce me to a confused, babbling incoherent blob of confusion, hunching over the kettle for the 2,349, 687th time and muttering about the utter pointlessness of ‘determiners’.
My two lasted about 20 minutes yesterday before resistance and bickering set in.
And even if you don’t have children to care for, falling out our normal routines and being confined to your home whilst watching the news on repeat is enough to cause stress, anxiety and a quiver of even the most stiff of upper lips.
As we move into a kind of ‘survival’ mode, self-care is often the first thing to drop off our list. At a time when it’s more essential to our happiness than ever! At a time like this, even the littlest act of self-care…
- Enjoying a quiet cup of tea
- Giving yourself an extra five minutes in bed
- Going for a walk round the block
- Taking a break from work – get up, stretch!
- Playing Candy Crush on the loo
- Getting a good nights sleep
- Not beating yourself up for not getting everything done
- Stroking the cat whilst watching series 1 of Outlander again (Covid will not destroy my love for you Jamie!)
Can make a difference to your overall happiness. So, even though it’s dull and dark out there, how about we sprinkle some proverbial sunshine into our lives, and discover the easy ways to choose happy? After all, happiness is a choice. And one we can all choose.
Have a read through my happiness hacks for life in lockdown, and let’s lighten the load together, shall we?
1. Take a breather…
Getting bogged down by a meaty task list only ends in us being grumpy. So if you keep checking the clock and thinking how quickly it’s going round, or you haven’t had a break for three hours, then take a breather. It’s not indulgent, it’s not procrastination, it’s something your body, mind and spirit needs you to do. Like now.
2. Smile more…
As a face yoga teacher I can reliably inform you that it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown, and causes less wrinkles, hurray! So try smiling more – think of the wrinkles, darling, think of the wrinkles!
3. Laugh more too…
If you’re not in the mood, flick on YouTube and look for clips of your favourite comic, celebrity or oddly behaved cat. Head over to IPlayer and stream the latest Have I got News for You. Perhaps even take a look at laughter yoga! (yes, it’s really a thing!) – the Laughter Yoga University could be a good place to start: https://laughteryoga.org/
4. Sleep better…
It’s not just a question of going to bed early either, you need to have good quality sleep too – a healthy adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Understandably with our brains stuck on a bit of a fight or flight roundabout getting a good nights sleep can be a bit of a challenge. Try things like…
- Cutting out caffeine after 7pm
- Turning off the screens and reading for 30-60 minutes before bed instead
- Investing in the biggest, fluffiest blanket
- Trying to head to bed around the same time each evening (the human brain loves routine)
- Meditating quietly before you turn out the light
- Keeping your room as dark and quiet as possible
5. Eat well…
I know… the chocolate from the kids selection boxes is SOOOOOOO tempting! But, your body needs nourishment and fuel (not the nutritional equivalent of cardboard) to keep you thriving at optimum level – fact. Think about how much happier, more productive, calmer and in control you would be if you enjoyed regular healthy snacks and meals. Not only will they ease your blood sugar rollercoaster ride. But you’ll feel more energised and healthy too. Planning can help and right now you’ve got the time, no excuses!
6. Say ‘no’ more…
The world isn’t going to stop because you’ve said ‘no’ to baking with your children for the umpteenth time. Or you’ve said ‘no’ to that pushy client who always asks for help at the last minute and needs a task completing the same day. Taking too much on, especially now, interrupts your happy levels, so learn to say ‘no’ and mean it (preferably without the guilt too!).
7. Avoid the energy vampires…
I know, I know, sometimes you can’t escape those people who are super talented at spoiling your good mood. But being aware of who they are and avoiding them when you’re in a bit of a funk yourself can only be a good thing, right? If there is truly no escape then set expectations for yourself – that person isn’t going to change but you don’t need to let yourself be dragged into their mood or drama.
8. Call on your happy friends…
You know who they are, the ones who make you smile when you think of them, the ones who tell it like it is when you’re erring on cantankerous. Their positivity will affect you in the best way, and sometimes all it takes is a 15-minute WhatsApp chat to get your back to your happy place. Lean on your friends, and let them lean on you.
9. Start a positive morning routine…
It’s something all the gurus seem to constantly bleat on about, but, having tried it, I know there’s a thread of substance to their advice here. Try it yourself. Get up a little earlier than normal (even 20 minutes can make a difference), fit in some stretching/exercise/meditation/deep breathing, have a healthy breakfast or your morning coffee in blissful quiet solitude, draw a tarot or oracle card, plan your day or get a few tasks ticked off before you’re the rest of the household stir. Seriously, it works wonders.
10. Practise Mindfulness…
We all know what it’s like to have racing thoughts about the next thing we have to do and the next thing, and the next thing, oh and that job we mustn’t forget, and that zoom call we’ve got to make, and this certainly isn’t going to keep up those positive vibes, is it? Practice regular mindfulness sessions as you go about your day instead. When your mind is at its noisiest, take a moment to recentre. Take some deep breaths, look out the window, think about what you can see, what colours are there, is it noisy or quiet, what’s happening? Being present when you can feel your serotonin levels dwindling, can just be the boost back to happy you need.
Try this One Minute Meditation:
Do any of these happiness hacks ring true for you? Could you share any more with me? I’d love to hear how you stay happy!