Spring – what’s not to love? Longer days, the flowers are starting to bloom and there is the hope for rebirth and renewal.
It’s time to transform our lives and our mindset, especially after the past year which for many of us was filled with anxiety and uncertainty. We all need a little bit more happiness and one way that we can achieve this is by adopting some of the many free mood boosting habits, one of which is positive thinking.
Start the day by smiling at yourself in the mirror. Yoko Ono was a huge proponent of smiling. “It is the simplest thing to make yourself healthy and make others feel good,” she said. Even though you may not feel like smiling, just forcing yourself to smile can actually make you happy and improve your mood. The more you do it, the more it will develop into a habit that links smiling and happiness together and when our brain thinks we are happy, it releases the happy hormone dopamine.
Nature is an amazing tool that can help us to become more mindful. Going outside for just half an hour daily can help us to feel happier. During the winter months, even in sunny Mediterranean regions, our reserves of vitamin D can become severely depleted. Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, is essential for brain health and mood as it boosts serotonin levels. So soak up those rays, but always remember to stay safe and use sunscreen to protect your skin.
Whilst you are out and about, try to use all your senses to experience the world around you. Take deep breaths and think about the smell (hopefully not unpleasant), listen and identify the sounds that you can hear, investigate your surroundings, what new things can you touch and what changes can you see? Focus your mind on the things you are most grateful for and make a mental note of how you feel.
Walking doesn’t require an expensive gym membership and is an enjoyable way to get fit. Start with a casual stroll and gently ramp up the pace until you are walking faster, extending the duration of your walk by five minutes every week or so. The positive effects of exercise will flood your brain with happy neurotransmitters and endorphins.
Look after your body, outside and in, and you will reap the benefits not only physically but mentally as well. Spring is the perfect season to implement a cleansing routine that will help restore your body to its full capacity. Maybe you can commit to drinking more water and trying to start to eat more healthily. There has been a lot of coverage of intermittent fasting recently and although this detox technique may not be for everyone, especially people who have a history of disordered eating, diabetics or pregnant women, done correctly it can help you to lose weight and feel good about your appearance. The diet means adhering to a 12-hour fasting window every day, and the easiest way to do this is to include the period whilst you sleep into the fasting time. For example, you could have your last meal of the day before 7 p.m. and then wait until 7 a.m. to eat breakfast. However, you should eat wholesome, well-balanced meals during the day to avoid nutrient deprivation.
Setting a positive intention for the day, whether that is first thing in the morning before you get out of bed, or whether it is during your daily walk, can help you achieve your happiness goals, however big or small they may be. Start by making a list of what you really want as opposed to what you think you want and focus on that. Keep your intentions brief and repeat them throughout your day but concentrate on motivational based intentions. For instance: “I intend to write 10,000 words of my book today” rather than “I want to become an author”.
Remind yourself that you are fabulous. It doesn’t matter what others think of you, because what you think about yourself is all that is important. Believe that happiness is a choice and look for the positivity in everything. There is always something good that can be found. Are you a glass half full or glass half empty person? In other words, are you an optimist who focuses on the good (glass half full) or are you a pessimist who only ever sees the negative side of things (glass half empty)? Those people who maintain a positive attitude are happier, healthier, and even wealthier and this is because the positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management, often associated with health benefits.
Another tool to manage stress is laughing and as the old adage goes “laughter is the best medicine”. In a similar way to smiling at yourself in the mirror, when you can laugh at life you feel less stressed, so make giggling and laughing a priority and, like all medicine, try to take it on a daily basis.
Remember that no-one is perfect, we all have flaws, and that loving and accepting yourself is so important to your mental wellbeing. There will always be challenges and lessons to learn along the way, but eventually things will become easier. Strive to accept your limitations, give yourself some TLC and put that spring into your step.