Day after day, the COVID-19 death toll rises, more people become sick and/or unemployed continues. During such painful times, the idea of cultivating personal happiness might seem trivial — selfish, even — but it might just be more important now than ever before. Here are 7 KEYS TO STAYING HAPPY DURING CORONA.
- Physical self-care — especially exercise. Gretchen Rubin, the author of numerous books including “The Happiness Project” and host of the weekly podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin,” says that the first step in boosting happiness is to take care of your body. “Your physical experience will always influence your emotional experience,” she says. “And exercise is the magical elixir of life.” Even light yoga or taking a quick walk can do the trick, Manly says, adding: “Research shows that a mere 12-minute walk is sufficient to create an upbeat, happy mood.”
- Meditate. “You’ll actually foster inner joy by slowing to meditate for even five minutes at a time,” says Manly. “Meditation increases feel-good neurochemicals, as it reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.”
- Improve sleep hygiene. A good night’s sleep is hard to come by when you’re self-quarantined in a global pandemic, but rest is crucial to both physical and mental wellness. Take extra measures to at least try to regulate your sleep. “I recommend setting an alarm to go to bed, just as you set one to wake up in the morning,” says Rubin.
- Connect with other people. “Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that connecting with people is truly important,” Rubin says, adding that even if we’re alone in quarantine, we mustn’t deprive ourselves of social interaction. “We’re fortunate that we have so much technology we can use to connect with people who aren’t nearby. Now’s also the time to look out for our loved ones who may not know how to use these technologies. Make sure they’re not left out or isolated.”
- Make your bed and declutter your space. “A lot of people feel more inner calm and happiness when their outer surroundings are more clutter-free,” says Rubin, who wrote the book, “Outer Order, Inner Calm.” “Decluttering can be difficult now, with more people home and a heavier load on your household, but whatever you can do can help give you a sense of control over your life. Making your bed, for instance, actually can make you feel better.”
- Experience nature — even if that’s just looking at a photo. We may have to work a bit harder to access nature right now, with many county and state parks closed, but if you can put that extra effort in, you’ll likely be happy you did.
- Say thank you. “Rather than noticing what you don’t have, pause to give gratitude for what you do have,” says Manly. “For example, if you are unable to take your regular yoga class, focus instead on the freedom you have to enjoy the myriad classes [online].” The trick here is to really immerse yourself in gratitude not only by saying, writing down a list of things you’re grateful for but by thanking everyone who crosses your path, including yourself. “Whether you thank the delivery person for a load of boxed groceries, your partner for bringing you a cup of tea or yourself for finishing a work project, your happiness level will increase when gratitude flows,” Manly says. Participating in acts of gratitude that are larger than yourself is also highly recommended.