8 Ways to Cultivate Happiness
I always have the opportunity to focus on the goodness in life, but when I am feeling sad and get wrapped up in a downward spiral of negative thoughts, it can seem impossible to pull myself out. It is a constant battle of mine, overcoming my sorrow when it swallows me whole. Slowly but surely, I am figuring out ways to overcome it, and I want to share some of these with you.
Spending Time Outside
Every time I am feeling down, I let nature improve my mood. Going on a walk or kayaking helps clear my head; I produce endorphins and soak up some vitamin D! There are studies showing that being in nature and around trees improves mood, relieves stress, increases energy, and improves sleep. From personal experience, nothing helps me more than this, except for possibly swinging. I walk to my neighborhood park and spend time on the swing-set. I have noticed that the activities that improve my mood the most are ones I constantly did as a child.
Taking a Hot Bath
I love lighting some candles, burning some incense, listening to Enya, drinking tea, and just relaxing. I also add Epsom salts; they relax the nervous system, soothe muscle aches, draw toxins from the body, and offer many other health benefits. Practicing mindfulness is perfect during a bath because I can focus on my muscles relaxing, the smell of candles/incense, and the taste of tea (or wine).
I spent many, many hours watching TV after the accident. Not only because I was couch-locked, but because it let me get lost in people's stories that were not my own. Reading does that as well, but my grief-induced brain didn't want to put the effort into reading.
Playing with Animals
Four-legged friends are definitely some of the best friends! My cat has played a huge role in helping me heal, along with my journey to mindfulness. Animals aren't worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. My kitty helps me focus on the joys of the present! Playing with a cat or dog increases serotonin and dopamine production in the brain, which helps relaxation. Read about more health benefits here.
It's a healthy way of expressing all of my emotions. Sometimes I'll write a letter to my dad or Jenna, write down memories of them, or voice the frustration and sadness I feel. I enjoy being able to look back on some of my harder days and see how far I have come in my healing.
Art and Music
Music can either be uplifting or crippling. I love putting on happy music and dancing by myself! But I also like listening to music that makes me cry because it helps me release emotions I sometimes don't even realize I'm holding back. I also created a playlist of my dad's favorite songs; it helps me feel close to him. Art, especially painting, is very therapeutic for me. Whether it be cooking, drawing, building, etc. the act of expression through creation does wonders for the soul!
Taking Care of Others
I enjoy doing things that help my mom out. It makes me feel better knowing I am doing something constructive that lowers her stress. This could be cleaning the house, cooking, taking care of our cat, running errands, etc. I like making art for people as well. There is so much joy that comes out of doing something for someone you love.
Find a "Happy" Hobby
Gardening, coloring, yoga, meditation, knitting, trying a new diet or foods in general. Some of these activities I did prior to the accident, and finding my way back to them has helped me reconnect with myself. I've started looking into new activities as well; it gives me something to look forward to and helps me discover more about myself.
I hope you are able to find comfort in some of these ideas. Comment below with other tips for cultivating happiness!