Finding happiness amidst chaos...
Throughout these past few weeks in lockdown I have put myself on a journey to make me happy. I have realised that whilst everything around me changes, I have become somewhat unhappy like a lot of others at the minute I presume. I have realised that you can’t depend on other things to make you happy. People, jobs, objects, the things that were making me happy before have been taken away from me, or else they no longer are meeting my requirements to make me happy. With any problem, comes a solution, so I have been researching and looking for solutions that will make me happy. Not through, people, my job or my belongings, as I simply can’t control or change these things, but inside me. (Cringe I know, but it’s only going to get worse if you continue to read on so I suggest that you leave now if the thought of people finding inner happiness gives you the ick and I wish you well.) Disclaimer over, now I will just get right to it and give you the solutions that have been working for me over the past 6 weeks of quarantine which I can say have genuinely changed my way of thinking and my overall mindset.
Goal setting & journaling
- Setting goals each day. Physically writing out things that you want to achieve that day, or longer term. Basically a to do list. You actually get a sense of achievement when you have completed tasks that you can tick off. Also, writing down three things each morning that you are grateful of. It can be something small like being grateful of having a nice warm bed to sleep in, or more serious- being grateful that your friends and family are remaining safe during COVID. The important aspect of this is writing it down. You can always go back to reflect on how things might have been different now than in the future. At the end of each day I try to make a few notes on how I have felt that day. If I am motivated and have lots of ideas I write them down, which holds me accountable to bring these ideas into fruition. If I have been feeling down, I write it all out in detail and leave it behind in those pages before I sleep that night. It might feel strange for some, but if you stick with it the words will eventually flow from your pen.
- I have started reading and for once I have been able to stay consistent. I have made it a part of my daily routine to try and read ten pages during my lunch hour in work. I have recently finished the book ‘the subtle art of not giving a fuck’ and I would highly recommend this to anyone that is looking to start getting into mindfulness/spiritual enlightenment. I was NEVER able to read before, I bought this book about a year ago and it has taken a global pandemic for me to finish it. But, it has got me in a great habit of being able to focus for a period of time while reading (I am already on to my next book) and I am learning so much. I keep a list in my phone of books that I see people recommend on the topics mindfulness and spirituality, a lot of them are from Sinead Hegarty’s book reviews: https://sineadhegarty.com/books/ If you don’t already follow Sinead you literally need to leave this blog and go follow her right now, she has completely changed my mindset and she is a total babe too!
- Podcasts are amazing for taking you to another wee world while you’re doing a mindless/every day task. Going for a walk, long drives or while cooking and cleaning. I started listening to podcasts a few years ago, mostly about true crime and pop culture, so it has only really been the last year that I have started to listen to more mindful podcasts. The best feel-good podcast I have listened to and am an avid listener of is ‘The Good Glow’ by Georgie Crawford. Georgie is another inspiring soul. She is a breast cancer survivor and brings guests on to the podcast that have also faced great adversity in their lives. This podcast is so real and it leaves you with a deep sense of gratitude. Another podcast I love is Tony Robbin’s podcast. Forget Joe Rogan, if you have never listened to Tony Robbins or heard of him, you can write that down as a goal for this week- “Find out who Tony Robbins is”. The man has it all sussed. If podcasts aren’t your thing, Tony has an amazing documentary on Netflix called ‘I am not your Guru’, which shows his 5 day retreat that he runs where people go in a bid to change their mindsets. This is a must watch! You can also look up his ted talks and speeches on youtube if you get hooked like me. Lastly, a particular episode in Jay Shetty’s podcast with Dr Daniel Amens changed my perspective entirely on the brain- On Purpose: Dr Daniel Amen on training your brain for optimal performance. I find the brain so fascinating already but I feel like this episode is an eye opener with regards to mental health even if brains aren’t normally your thing.
- Try to minimise the amount of TV you are watching and also take a look at the programmes you are watching. Yes, you can still watch Coronation Street if you want, but just ask yourself if it is really serving you a purpose? Are you learning anything? Is it allowing you to relax? All of these are good reasons to be watching that sort of TV. But if it is just to fill time and doesn’t leave you feeling good, then you can definitely be filling your time more wisely. I don’t have a TV in my room so I find this one quite easy. Something I have enjoyed watching recently and learnt something from is ‘The Goop Lab’ on Netflix, which shows Gweneth Paltrows staff at Goop explore different means of achieving a positive mindset, including psychedelic psychotherapy (magic mushrooms) and psychic abilities. It’s actually madness, but it’s really interesting.
- I’ve found that I have struggled with exercise during this time as I had finally got myself into a good routine with the gym and I don’t have any of the facilities at home to suffice. I have been forcing myself to do maybe 1 or 2 home workouts a week while also walking my dog each day. For the first time, I have actually learnt to be grateful that I can get out for a walk and that a home workout is good for now. The importance of exercise for serotonin levels in the brain is vital in keeping not only your body in check but your mind. Do not underestimate walking and yoga as exercise! They are great for regulating your breathing, getting out of your head and decreasing anxiety and stress levels. This brings me on to meditation. I have recently been meditating and the benefits of it have literally became addictive and it is now a part of my daily routine. It is key in becoming self-aware, it can teach you to live in the now and how to stop over thinking. It can take you to a tropical island of complete serenity, even though you are physically in your box room in your mum’s house. You can download the calm app, or simply look up ‘guided meditation’ on youtube and give it a go. It might take a few times to master it, or to at least get over the giggling stage of how ridiculous it all sounds. But trust me on this one, completely eye opening.
- We all know social media can be a negative tool that can lead you into a rabbit hole of your own thoughts, tearing ourselves down or getting tore down by others. Simple answer= unfollow anyone that is causing you pain when scrolling. This might be hard as you wonder, “what will this person I have only spoken to once in my life/never ever met think of me when they notice I have unfollowed them?!” The answer lies in the question. They aren’t a part of your life, they don’t add value to your life and they probably won’t even notice you have unfollowed them. If they do notice, do you actually care? You need to value your happiness more than keeping the peace with someone that doesn’t even know you. It’s nothing personal, really. On the other hand, Instagram can also be a powerful tool when used right. I have started to follow all of the authors of the books I’m reading, the hosts from the podcasts I am listening to and anyone else I come across that has a similar mindset/values as me. Now when I open my app, it is filled with inspiring people doing live meditations, posting their favourite quotes that I might get something out of or simply spreading positive vibes. I’m not comparing myself to these people, I am learning from them. Use your tools wisely.
- If you have more free time at the minute then it is a perfect opportunity to learn something you’ve always wanted to. This will give you a sense of purpose each day and you can set a goal to complete certain amount of sections each day. I have recently completed a Google Digital Garage course on the fundamentals of digital marketing, which I hope to put in to practice to revamp this blog. The courses on there are free and vary in difficulty and length so there will be something on there you might find worthwhile. I have also started an online psychology course accredited by Yale University through Coursera (coursera.org). There are free courses on coursera, there is also a selection that you can pay for, but there is definitely more choice on here. Harvard University are also running many courses for free at https://online-learning.harvard.edu/catalog/free . I hope to complete some of these when I have finished my psychology course as it is so important to keep your brain stimulated during these times. Never stop learning!
- If you were to tell me a few years ago that I would be getting up early in the mornings, having breakfast and practicing gratitude, meditating/stretching etc., I would have laughed at you and said I’m not a hippy. But it is a game changer. It really is true that your morning has a huge impact on how the rest of your day is going to go. I really struggle with getting up in the mornings, but I am slowly but surely getting there with this one. I try to limit my phone use and listen to my own thoughts. If I stick the kettle on, I listen to the water boil and focus on this to be present in that moment. The more moments we have like this, the less time we spend over thinking or worrying. Try to listen to the birds while you’re waking up instead of the news. It’s so important to connect with yourself and the world around you, before you start connecting with others on your phone. I write my lists and I draw my curtains. Trying to get back some of that routine that you would have had pre-quarantine helps too, like getting washed and throwing on you before you start your day. It definitely makes you feel better doing this and now I can really notice the difference in my mood during the rest of the day if I don’t do these things.
- A quote that I am obsessed with from Tony Robbins is “garbage in= garbage out”. Not only is this very relevant in terms of the content we consume, the thoughts that we have or the people we surround ourselves with, but in terms of what we put into our body. You need to treat your body like a machine. You want the machine to run sufficiently, therefore you power it correctly. Now is the time to be kind to our body, feed it colourful and nutritious food so that it will be kind to the mind in turn. Now that our beloved McDonalds and Chinese restaurants are closed, we should take this time to wean ourselves onto healthier foods so that we can make better choices as we start to feel the benefits of a healthier diet. Take this time to experiment with cooking new meals and trying new vegetables that you think you don’t like.
So, that basically rounds up everything I have been focusing on to keep my mind in check and I can safely say that a combination of these things has helped me gain control of my thoughts during such crazy times. I really hope that at least one person gets something out of reading this and if you find any of these points interesting please give me a shout as I would seriously loveee to hear if you have been putting any of these in to practice and your thoughts on them.
Thanks so much for reading,
(Pupper pic to spread the positive vibes)