How to Cultivate Happiness in Times of Covid
As we start heading into the winter months, staying balanced around our joy and happiness can become more and more difficult for some of us. Especially during these times of Covid where many of us are still at home trying to stay hopeful for normal days to come. At the same time, trying to live our lives as ‘normal’ as possible and not live in the fear of death for ourselves and loved ones.
The rates of mental health issues like depression, substance abuse and even suicide have increased dramatically this year, especially around the younger generations, essential workers and minority groups (according to the CDC weekly report, August 2020)
It’s important that we acknowledge the devastation that this virus has caused and the reality of its wrath. As I just stated above, it’s causing more death even indirectly and we must do what we can to protect ourselves and the ones we love from the emotional upheaval.
If we can learn ways to cultivate more happiness around us and within us we can share this energy with those we love. Now I’m not saying that this can help and protect everyone. Serious mental health issues need to be addressed by clinical professionals and dealt with as soon as possible. If you are experiencing extreme depression or anxiety, I highly encourage you to seek medical care as soon as possible.
However, we can take part in the healing process whenever we notice a change or shift in ourselves or someone we know. We must be there for one another and do our part in the support of emotional and mental wellbeing.
Cultivating happiness to create more inner balance and joy is so important especially during these times. Here are some ways that help me stay grounded and joyful when days and times get challenging:
Keep an open mind
Not everyone is in a place of mindfulness or understands what it is or how it can greatly impact life and wellness. So keeping an open mind that anything and everything is possible will help to create some space for unfamiliar practices and ideas. You might have strong beliefs that don’t really support different aspects of wellbeing however if you can be open to learning and giving something ‘new’ a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised of the impact it could make and it doesn’t mean that you have to give up any current beliefs. You have to stay true to yourself.
Whenever sadness or anxiety starts to overcome you, reach out to a friend, family member or trusted source as soon as possible. Human connection is a major player in mindfulness and it can really help pull you out from the darkness you were about to embark. The mere act of speaking with someone you love and/or trust immediately has a positive affect on your nervous system and can calm the mind. Give yourself the love of connection as much as possible, even if it can’t be in person. Virtual calls and even simple phone calls can make a big difference to your mindset. Get "old school" and write a letter or notecard to someone! Let them know how much they mean to you and share your gratitude for them being in your life. It will even make you feel good as you pop it in the mail and to them as well for receiving something other than junk mail and bills! 😊
Vulnerability and Expression
Through connection, it’s also important to allow yourself to be vulnerable. There is no shame in expressing yourself and letting someone into your grief and/or fears. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions and feelings, this is not a weakness! You have to face yourself and what you’re feeling in order to process and release them. You must be strong and it takes courage to do this but you do have it in you, you are much stronger than you think! Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the key for personal growth and to understanding yourself and others.
Giving into the events of the past and worries of the future only hold you back even more when it comes to your happiness. You leave no space for the joy. The practice of being in the moment helps to ease the mind and keeps you centered around the blessings you have right in front of you. It offers you the space for gratitude and joy. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just focus on that fully and find the joy around it. Observe your senses, what do you smell? Hear? Feel? Taste? See? Really be in the space that you are in.
Do something fun and unexpected either alone or with your family/friends. Play some music and dance on the bed, read a book out loud, watch your favorite movie and recite all the funny lines, get creative and get silly! Bringing back the child within can also bring back the love and joy that you had for certain things as you were growing up. Holding gratitude for those things that you might have forgotten about can cultivate the joy around your life through wonderful memories.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Try and give yourself forgiveness and slack for the things that haven’t gone well, the struggles, the loss, or whatever you’re challenged with. You’re not alone and there are so many wonderful people out there, groups and organizations to help you through it. Giving yourself kindness will emulate to those around you and by being kind to them, you will feel the joy and love that will come back to you. Whatever energy you put out into the world is exactly what you’ll get back, good or bad. Be observant and kind, it’s so worth it!
I hope these ideas help you as you move forward on your journey. They have definitely helped me through my own practice. The expat life especially can be difficult right now and as I said before, you're not alone. Take advantage of the community around you and immerse yourself in cultivating your happiness so that you can survive and thrive!
Speaking of ‘survive and thrive’ I will be a guest speaker at this year’s “Survive & Thrive Summit” hosted by the Woman Expat Club coming this November 18th & 19th. This two day virtual event is going to host approximately 30 speakers ('yours truly' included!) all discussing and teaching various topics of expat life, travel and community.
I'll be teaching a short lesson on negative thought patterns and how to reframe them so that you can make room for positivity and joy 😊 I hope to see you there! You can get more information HERE
Stay well my friends!