By thinking happy thoughts, you can help make them a reality.
‘Don't worry, be happy.’ ‘Grey skies are gonna clear up.’ ‘I’m walking on sunshine (whooooaaa)!’ Ever notice how many hit songs are about keeping a positive attitude? One of the main reasons is that simply by thinking happy thoughts, you can help make them a reality. When things feel bleak or overwhelming, taking conscious steps to keep a positive outlook can make all the difference. Try these hacks to keep the good energy flowing.
Soothe Your Soul
‘There are two big things that can help improve moods and increase sense of well-being’, explains licensed psychologist Dr Katie Kivisto: ‘self-soothing and self-compassion.’ Note the emphasis on ‘self’ – these are things you can control even when you're cooped up or feeling starved for human interaction. First, the soothing. We're going back to basics here, connecting to our senses. ‘Each of our senses can help us to be more mindful – connect to the present moment and appreciate small experiences,’ says Dr Kivisto.
Take in the beauty of the Earth or whatever else brings you joy. If viewing a waterfall or wildlife in person isn’t an option, find a soothing nature video or a zoo livestream. Better yet, make it personal: decorate your workspace with photos that take you back to a trip or event that brought you joy.
Listen to soothing music. Call up your go-to playlist. Keep it upbeat; select songs that sound the way you want to feel. This is one of our favourites! Sing it with me now ¬– ‘because I'm happy / clap along / if you feel like happiness is the truth.’
‘There’s a reason we’re inundated by memes about sweatpants these days!’ muses Dr Kivisto. When stress has reached its peak, slip into your favourite cozy joggers – if they’ve just come out of the dryer, all the better. Or if you've been feeling the heat, try a cool flannel on your face.
Light your favourite scented candle, diffuse lavender or another calming essential oil, or bake your go-to treat from childhood to fill your home with wonderful smells. Did someone say banana loaf?
Practice mindful eating, being aware of what you are consuming. Be sure that includes foods that make you feel happy (yes, comfort foods!) in moderation.
Give Yourself a Break
This is the self-compassion part. In short, be kind to yourself, not just to others. Cut yourself some slack and remember you're only human. ‘Acknowledge the things you do and don’t have control over,’ advises Dr Kivisto. ‘If we act with self-compassion, it’s easier to accept our situation without judgment.’ During these particularly mad times, take inventory of your current situation and don't be afraid to change your goals – for the present.
Yes, you really do have a sixth sense. It’s movement! You choose: running, dance, yoga, playing a sport, even walking – they all have a soothing influence on your body. And that’s in addition to the other benefits of exercise. Begin your day with a good workout! It won’t just energise your body and brain, it will give you a sense of accomplishment to start your morning.
Keep connections alive. Maintain relationships, even if visiting your mates in person isn't an option. Schedule a video call to catch up. Add it to your calendar and make it a weekly date – it's that important, says Dr Kivisto. ‘We are facing increased competition and demands for our very limited time and attention, and it may be important to prioritize connection over productivity.’
You Do You
Now, here's the flip side to the social connection: don't feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing. If you’re an introvert, a homebody or simply someone who generally fancies being alone, don't feel pressured to take up FaceTiming, Zooming or a Google Meet just because everyone's doing it.
See the Light
Nature is one of the greatest mood boosters. Whether it's discovering an obscure hiking trail or just taking in the sights of your own back garden, step outside! Stuck inside? Bring natural light into your house. Sunlight (even through a window) triggers your body to make serotonin – your own self-made pick-me-up!
When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, stop yourself and identify one good thing that has happened that day – however small. That simple change of thought stops your brain in its tracks and reverses the energy. The same goes for smiling: don't wait until someone forces you to look happy! Research suggests that the muscles that hold a smile may be able to trick your brain into being happy.
Here’s the good news. You are in control! It may take a little work to convince your brain to automatically see the good in situations, but you can make it happen. The key here is mindfulness: staying focused and engaged at the here and now, and appreciating the little things.
What made you smile today? Share your moments of joy with us @PremierProtein_UK on Instagram.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. It is recommended that you see your doctor or registered dietician before making any changes to your diet.