This past year has been heavy. Ok let’s be honest, for many of us, it has just plain sucked! The pandemic, social unrest, dehumanization, political division, virtual school, it has all weighed on me daily. Can’t turn the TV on or read the news or scroll through social media without some new developing shit show and more dreadful crap on the daily. I need some space from the anxiety and some fun back in my life. We need laughs, lightness, and I need to find my fun me again! Here are 5 ways I managed to bring my smile back.
1. FUN BEGINS WITH GRATITUDE
The first thing I had to do this past year was focus on the things that are going well. I needed to bring my brain into the focus of everything I’m most grateful for at this moment. That can be simple like morning coffee, my health, my family is safe or we have a place to live. I made a commitment to write down at least 5 things I’m grateful about that are going well right now in my journal! We also have kept a family gratitude jar where I write on post-its, collect them and then dump them out on New Years’ to remind my family of the positive year. Whatever you choose (meditation, journaling, etc.) the idea is to shift your brain to think and look for what’s going well.
2. GET GOOD SLEEP
Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is not the best way to start the day. How is your sleep going? I wasn’t having restful sleep. Late nights, anxiety and binge-watching TV, contributed to this half-assed sleep schedule. I made changes to my sleep rituals. Bedtime routines and sleep hygiene prepare us for bedtime. Consistent sleep and wake times make all the difference. Set alarms for both. Lavender, soundscapes, comfy pj’s, favorite comedy shows or movies you have watched 100 times all assisted me in beginning to get a restful and happy night’s sleep. Waking up happy and added dopamine begins with good rest.
3. GOOD SMILES FROM SOUL FOOD
Pick one daily food or beverage that fills your soul with happiness. That’s it! Just one simple pleasure that sends your tastebuds into sensational bliss. That can be your organic smoothie, or some mac and cheese or some delightful childhood favorite like a bowl of cereal. Just eat one soul-filled fun, happy favorite food every day and enjoy the hell out of it! This doesn’t mean neglect your healthy eating habits. Eat a little bit of Joy! Get the dopamine reward and allow that simple pleasure to put a smile on your face.
4. RECREATE FUN MEMORIES
Somedays I easily waste time on social media or TV which makes my anxiety flood. Time to tap into my favorite fun times of my youth. Why not do them again? Activities such as skiing and skating when I was young created some hilarious memories. Do all of them again. Make a list of fun solo activities you love or loved at a different time in your life. Involve your pets, Get the skates, buy the drum set, start that hobby you put down that you enjoyed long ago. Dance out to some old tunes. Whatever it is, just do it again! Remember how fun those things were? Doing them connects back to happy times. The practice of exercise, laughs, smiles and fun also doses the brain with wonderful endorphins.
5. GET THE STINK BLOWN OFF YA
This old southern expression always makes me laugh. “Get outside and get the stink blown off ya!” In all truth, being outdoors, even for 15 minutes a day, boosts serotonin and really changes one’s mood. Being in nature has a centering effect on oneself. Go for a walk or run, swing, hike, garden, cloud watch, swim in the lake, lay in a hammock, or bask in the sun – do some lizarding as my kids say. Just go outside! If it’s rainy, open up windows just enough to let in the earthy damp air. If it’s snowy, make a snow angel or shovel, make a snowman, or go snowshoeing.
DAILY PRACTICE HAPPY HABITS
Make a plan each day to incorporate one of each of these into your routine and get ready to find that fun inner person again. During the worst of times, it’s imperative to allow yourself to delight in small, simple pleasures and joy. Pepper in a good visit with a trusted friend, virtual yoga or some snuggle time with your furry pets to release some oxytocin. Make it about you, integrate loved ones and find your fun. Create things to smile about again! Now you can pass your ideas around so others can join in who also might need a smile. Finding fun and getting back my smile made this year a little less sucky!
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.