Are Covid restrictions getting you down? Do you feel like you’re struggling to get in the festive spirit? In this blog post, Laura Drury, shares five useful tips to get you feeling happy this Christmas.
Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, but with prolonged Covid restrictions and some of our usual traditions off limits, you might be wondering what will actually make you happy over the coming weeks.
Whilst there is a lot we can’t do, it’s important to shift our focus to what is within our control.
Invariably, when we get stuck in a bit of rut, it’s our thinking habits that lead us there. So rather being a slave to those thoughts, get in the driver’s seat and take the highway to happiness.
How Can You Get Happy?
At Laughology, we love an acronym. So here’s a HAPPY one to help you along the way:
H – Help someone
A – Awareness
P – Practice Gratitude
P – Persist with exercise
Y – Yield to the benefits of laughter
But what will following our HAPPY acronym actually do for you? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot - bring on the happiness!
When we’re focused on our own troubles, it can feel pretty lonely. It’s also easy to forget that there are people in similar situations to us too.
Helping others not only shifts our focus away from negative thinking patterns, but also releases endorphins (those happy neurotransmitters) which can give us a Helper’s High! Also, the smiles we receive from those we help are contagious - and so when we’re smiling back, we start to feel better.
Helping others, as well as receiving help from them, enables us to stay connected with those who matter to us most. This is particularly important to happiness, especially at a time when our physical contact with others is limited.
Help can come in many forms. It can be as simple as a smile or compliment or perhaps a bit of shopping. Find simple ways to offer your time.
We don’t advise chasing happiness, as it can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing and inevitably leave us feeling very unhappy.
Instead, by bringing ourselves into the present and creating awareness of what we’re feeling and why, we are then better able to move forward. Whether you’re feeling a bit stuck, have had some bad news or have done something you regret, let yourself accept and experience that emotion for a moment. Then ask yourself:
This might be calling a friend, going for a walk, practising some breathing or meditation.
Gratitude has numerous benefits to both our physical and mental health, including improved self-esteem, sleep and relationships.
It’s also another way of shifting our focus from what’s wrong to what’s going well. When we’re striving for things we haven’t got, we all too often miss what’s right in front of us. This is partly because our brain filters out the things which support our thinking.
Therefore, by routinely seeking out what we’re grateful for (considering it in the morning when brushing our teeth and reflecting on it before we go to sleep), we create a healthy thinking habit which has a lasting effect on our wellbeing.
Persist With Exercise
As it gets colder and darker, our motivation to get up for that early morning run can ebb away. Instead, why not move it to lunch time and get some fresh air for a quick fifteen minutes?
Alternatively, belt out the Christmas songs and dance around the kitchen! Getting the heart pumping certainly helps us feel better, clears the mind and helps with productivity when we’re working afterwards.
Yield to the Benefits of Laughter
We all love a chuckle and there’s a good reason for that - we get yet more of those lovely endorphins. Laughter is a release too. It gets the blood pumping, the heart thumping, exercises those facial muscles and helps us relax. Like smiling, it’s also contagious, so make sure you share the laugh!
One of the ways to laugh on cue is to keep a diary of all the things you find humorous. Like gratitude, the more you seek out things that make you laugh, the easier they’ll be to find.
A humour diary is also a great tool – if you are stuck in a bad thinking rut, pick it up and read it. You’ll shift your focus, clear the mind and after a belly laugh, enable yourself to start to think about things differently.
No matter what you’re celebrating this month, I hope that there are some HAPPY moments ahead.