The NORC at the University of Chicago conducted a pandemic response tracking study in late May last year. According to this study, Americans have been the unhappiest after the pandemic. They have not felt this way in the last 50 years, as only 14% of the respondents were found to be extremely happy, which is down 31% from the same period in 2018.
The idea of cultivating happiness may seem unimportant at this period of time. In reality, it is more important than ever before, as you cannot stay healthy if you are constantly worrying about the infection, loss of money, social isolation or morbidity resulting from this global health crisis.
Most people are coping with the chronic stress and higher level of anxiety brought by this new reality to some extent. However, no one knows when the situation will normalize. This uncertainty is responsible for heightened mental stress.
The basic nature of human beings is to have control over any situation. Hence, an uncontrollable and unpredictable situation, such as the one we’re all currently dealing with, is likely to cause anxiety and panic amongst everyone.
So here are ways to help you stay happier and calmer as we learn to live with the new normal:
1. Focus On Reality Now
It is difficult to find any silver lining in the present, as the situation does not seem to improve at any time in the near future. However, focusing on the negative aspects of things round the clock will only cause stress. In this scenario, it is prudent to plan for the future because it enables you to take the correct action based upon any situation.
However, constantly worrying about a catastrophe that may or may not result from this pandemic will push you down the rabbit hole. Thus, it is essential to focus on the present scenario instead of worrying about the future. It enables you to have a realistic and positive outlook on any situation.
2. Stay Active
You may notice an increase in muscular tension or difficulty in breathing when you are anxious or stressed. This is because anxiety will negatively affect a person’s physical and emotional well-being. To help you manage, you should exercise regularly in order to stay active, as performing physical activities has always been beneficial for your health.
Your central nervous system and pituitary gland release endorphins during exercise. This hormone interacts with the receptors in your brain, resulting in the reduced perception of pain, alongside having positive feelings in the body.
You may participate in a different type of activity if you do not like to exercise, such as listening to music, swimming, going for a walk, etc. Participating in an activity engages your mind, as well as ensuring your mental and physical well-being.
3. Create A Routine
It is important to have a routine in life, as it provides you with a sense of predictability. The pandemic may have made this challenging to achieve as you feel your sense of control slipping away. In this scenario, you can add some structure to your life by having a routine.
It even takes your mind off some things in your life and lets you focus on other important matters. For example, you may set a particular time for having lunch so you don’t need to worry about this particular matter every day.
You even benefit from creating a routine for the kids, as it enables you to set boundaries for the little ones at home. If you work from home, setting up boundaries will be extremely helpful. The pandemic is equally stressful for the kids or teenagers too.
These restrictions have made kids more restless than ever before, since they are restricted from going to school, playground or from participating in any type of group activity. By setting up a routine at home, you give them a sense of predictability.
4. Help And Connect With Others
Social distancing rules have certainly made it difficult to catch up with the people in your life, but you can still stay in touch with your friends, relatives or colleagues via phone or over the social media. By connecting to others, you’re less likely to feel alone, which is important because feelings of loneliness are known to increase stress and anxiety.
However, not everyone in your life may know how to stay connected using modern technology. That’s why it is important to look out for these people and to ensure that they do not feel isolated and remind them that they have someone too.
Helping others can also make you feel good, as it gives you a sense of belongingness and purpose. A small act of kindness (providing someone with a care package when they are in need or donating to an important cause) can definitely add some positive vibes to your life.
5. Give Yourself A Goal
You can have a purpose in your life after setting a personal or professional goal. Fulfilling a goal gives you a sense of accomplishment because your brain releases dopamine, which is believed to influence the mood with feelings of reward and motivation. However, you also have to be rational when setting up goals. Obtainable goals bring a sense of fulfilment, on the other hand, unattainable goals may only cause depression and frustration.
You can train your brain with the help of meditation. Some of its benefits include reduction in negative emotions, increase in tolerance and patience, and improvement in focus. Meditation also enables you to effectively manage stress and focus on the present.
You will notice improvement in your mood after meditating due to the release of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Hence, meditating is essential if you want to alleviate stress and maintain your positivity amidst this pandemic.
Staying positive while the world struggles to heal is not easy. No one knows when it is possible to control this pandemic. The situation has even worsened due to restrictions on socializing, so it’s only normal to feel stifled and stressed out.
However, by making conscious efforts to feel better, you can at least give yourself a break from constant anxieties. The tips shared above can help you stay calm and positive during this crisis, allowing you to effectively handle stress and take proper measures.