Happiness may feel elusive right now as the United States stretches into its sixth month of the pandemic. The American Psychiatric Association says that more than one-third of us admit the coronavirus crisis is having an effect on our mental health. While this may not seem like the time for fun and laughter, experts say that putting a little joy in your life can help matters during dark times.
"Happiness gives us the resilience to get through. This is a challenging time because it's both a mental and physical health crisis. We need to focus on happiness more now, not less," psychology professor Laurie Santos of Yale University told AARP.
Unfortunately, Santos says that "our minds suck at happiness. They're naturally wired for survival. We pay more attention to trouble. You have to work at happiness."
Here are some ways you can stop worrying and be happy:
- Stay connected. Healthy relationships form the cornerstone of happiness, according to the Harvard Study of Adult Development. According to their research, a sense of joy helps reduce inflammation and stress.
- Get physical. A new study on the effects of exercise shows that people sheltered at home during the COVID-19 crisis who kept up their physical activity were less likely to be depressed and were mentally more resilient than people who slowed down. Yoga is an excellent choice of exercise because it encourages a mind-body connection.
- Create a self-care routine. No matter how hectic life gets, always schedule time to take care of yourself, Dr. Joanna Petridis, a clinical psychologist who specializes in anxiety, tells Woman's Day. "Find something that enriches you and feeds your soul," she said. Her suggestions include volunteering, gardening or planning your next vacation.
- Find your funny bone. The Mayo Clinic reports that laughter activates and relieves your stress response, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and soothes tension. In the long term, laughter may also stimulate your immune system by quelling the negative thoughts that impair it. Identify a few things each day that warrant a giggle or even a full-throated laugh. Watch funny videos or TV shows, instead of the news.
Peggy Noonan, a former presidential speech writer and a Wall Street Journal columnist, once said:
"Humor is the shock absorber of life; it helps us take the blows."
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