We have certainly seen our share of challenges in 2020. So many challenges in fact, that we seem to be on high alert at all times waiting for the next major stress to come our way. On top of normal daily stressors like work, family life, or finances, 2020 has given us some major blows such as the current pandemic, a plethora of social issues and injustices, even more financial strife and a time in politics like we’ve never seen before. Our bodies and minds are in constant fight or flight mode, without an end in sight. Although we may not have control of many of these issues, we do have control over how we handle our emotions around these issues. We have the ability to put ourselves in the best possible situation to manage our stress levels, give those adrenal glands a break and work to pursue happiness.
1. Pursue personal development
I recently took an online course through Harvard Health Publishing called, “Positive Psychology”. Harvard Medical School offers a handful of courses on health and wellness that are extremely cost effective. Locally, I’ve signed up for a course called, “Finding Zen and Joy” offered through Nicole Briggs, LMT and owner of Bella Viva Massage Therapy. This positivity and relaxation training course was designed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. And lastly, another great resource I tapped into was the Love, Live Local Festival’s virtual workshop called, “Emotional Detox: Cleansing Uncertainty” with Sherianna Boyle. I’m all for reading a great book as well to help me dive a little deeper into my personal growth, however, sometimes it’s nice to use a different medium to explore these topics. However you choose to learn, whether it be a course, book, workshop, articles or watching a documentary, I think we can all agree that taking a step aside from the world’s chaos to spend some time learning about yourself could be just the “timeout” you need to help shift your mindset.
2. Pursue opportunities for movement
I don’t think anyone needs a lecture on why movement should be an important part of our lives and how it can improve our physical health. However, aside from scheduling daily/weekly exercise, how often do you look for extra opportunities for movement? Do you park further away from a store, take the stairs when possible or take advantage of times you can walk places rather than drive? Getting in those extra steps each day can provide not just the physical boost we need, but the mental/emotional one as well. Walking can reduce stress hormones and increase endorphins, which in turn will make it easier to be in a happy state.
3. Pursue gratitude
When we turn on any type of media, we are bombarded with negativity, fear and uncertainty. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the same amount of thoughts and insights on gratitude? Instead of scrolling through my social media feed and seeing multiple articles or posts that send my head spiraling, I can choose to put the phone down and find gratitude in the positive things that are present in my life. No matter how small they might be, I can choose to pause in that moment to feel thankful for that presence in my life…my child’s smile, a fresh breath of air or hearing a favorite song come on the radio. In that moment, I can choose to feel peace and comfort and recognize how it feels. It’s always good practice to vocalize our gratitude as well, so we can share that feeling with others and let them know the happiness they are giving others because of their efforts. It can also incentivize that person to go out and do more good.
4. Pursue flow
Have you ever been so immersed in an activity that you aren’t aware of time, that constant “to-do list” stops in your head and the work seems effortless? If so, that’s what is called being in a “flow state”. This can happen at work, home or during recreational activities. Pay attention to your everyday experiences. Which ones make you feel most at ease or do you find exciting because you have a feeling of accomplishment? Use your senses to experience that moment, so you know what flow feels like and pursue activities that can replicate that feeling.
There is no doubt that most of us have never had to live through a time when so many world and community issues have unfolded at the same time. We are living in the “overwhelm” 24/7 and most of the time feel so out of control because we don’t have direct influence or power over making immediate or effective change. What we do have control over is our love, kindness, personal growth and self-care. It’s a daily practice. It’s a mindful practice. It’s a disciplined practice. But, it’s worth the practice to pursue happiness in 2020.
Barbara Gleason assists with events and programs at HOW Heart of Wellness in Centerville, a nonprofit specializing in mindful wellness programs that are inspirational and informational for business, communities, and schools. She is also a Health and Physical Education teacher at Barnstable High School, a children’s book author (www.myhometownbooks.com) and Independent Consultant with Arbonne International (www.barbaragleason.arbonne.com). Visit www.heartofwellness.us or “like” us on Facebook for more information about our programs and services. The content shared from HOW Heart of Wellness is for informational purposes only and is not intended nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition.