The winter months can be a stressful time for many people. Finding happiness in a cold and grey space can seem like a daunting task. However, taking small steps to increase the joy you experience everyday can be one of the best ways to care for yourself until the trees start blooming again. Here are some suggestions for infusing practices that increase happiness into your daily life:
According to Psychology Today, humans are hard-wired for survival. Part of that instinct is to search for danger or negative things to avoid. Because of this we often find ourselves focusing on what is going wrong and how to fix or run away from what we don’t enjoy. By encouraging yourself to pick out what goes right in your day or what you are grateful for, it is possible to shift your mindset to a more positive view. Not only will this increase a positive view of your world, but it can also help you feel more confident about your abilities and what you have already done to help yourself. Challenge yourself to find at least three things that you are grateful for every day. It’s O.K. to start with small things such as being grateful that the bus ran on time or gratitude for a delicious breakfast.
As we experience the height of cuffing season and staying indoors with a special someone it is also important to keep up with other close relationships. Family time over the holidays can leave you energized, drained or somewhere in between. Sometimes getting back into a school schedule can feel isolating or it may be easier to focus on just one significant other. According to Therapist Aid.com, nurturing a variety of close relationships has been shown to strengthen happiness. With the rise of accessible technology it is easier than ever to connect with friends and family even when farther away. Calling, video chatting and even texting can strengthen bonds when grabbing a cup of coffee is not feasible.
Giving yourself credit for talents, skills and accomplishments can be difficult or sometimes might feel like a lie. However, practicing positive affirmations can boost mood and self esteem. Dr. Arlene K. Unger describes a step by step approach in her book Happy: 50 mindfulness and Relaxation
Exercises To Boost Your Mood Every Day, 2016 to help you get started:
- Step 1: Pick a negative thought that comes up a lot. It can be I am useless, I do not work hard enough, or anything specific to you.
- Step 2: Write short positive statements that counter this thought. An example of this would be, Sometimes I feel useless when I do not meet my expectations, but I am always striving and giving my all.
- Step 3: Create set times to read and repeat these affirmations throughout the day. Sometimes it is helpful to write an affirmation or two on a piece of paper and carry it with you throughout the day for repeated joy