Lately life have been rough. Not just for me — almost everyone seems to be suffering through much more than the regular muck. From surprise hospital visits to divorces to job losses, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for many of us. Depression and anxiety seem to be issues we’re all facing with more ferocity than usual.
So these past three weeks I’ve been making a conscious effort to fight back against the chaos — I’ve been cleaning up my diet (and eating out at restaurants less), working out more, reducing the number of events I attend and projects I take on each week, and appreciating the simple little things as much as possible.
Staying positive and active during difficult times is so important!
So for those of you in the same boat — for those of you in desperate need of positivity and motivation in the face of soooo much chaos, I wanted to share the 5 sure-fire ways I immediately make myself happier.
5 Ways to Immediately Feel Happier
1. Go for a Walk.
In nature, when possible. Movement is its own kind of mediation and I’ve long told you about my love for the Japanese technique of shinrin-yoku or ‘forest bathing’ as a method for relaxation. There’s nothing like digging your feet into the earth, breathing in the fresh air, and just being.
People forget how a simple walk (with no destination in mind) can free up the mind in a way staying indoors can’t. Just get outside and be with nature.
2. Pet a Pug (or animal of choice).
I’ve already given you 3 Reasons Why Life is Better with a Pug and personal health was one of them (but really I’m looking for any excuse to just hang out with my dog). Being around animals has many proven benefits: the simple act of petting an animal has been proven to lower blood pressure and release a relaxation hormone. Pugs in particular seem to be designed to alleviate human depression — between their squishy faces, googly eyes, enthusiastic personalities, and their goofiness, it’s impossible to be blue around a pug!
Don’t have immediate access to a pet? Why not head down to your local animal shelter — not only will you be boosting your own mood playing with the rescue animals, but you’ll be boosting their moods too! #winwin
3. Cook a healthy meal at home.
While I love to eat out and explore new restaurants, cooking a healthy meal at home brings its own kind of happiness. Creating something with your own hands (especially something meeting one of your primary needs: food) has been psychologically shown to act as a natural anti-depressant and to induce effects similar to meditation.
Why not whip up a batch of my favorite Autumn Salmon Chowder, my Mom’s legendary Potato Pancakes, or even my Matcha Power Smoothie Bowl for energy and nutrients? You very well may discover a passion for cooking (if you don’t already have one).
4. Do something selfless — help someone.
This may seem obvious to some but it took me a long time to realize how much helping someone else, especially a stranger, can help me deal with my own problems. Not only is putting your energy into helping others a good distraction from pain, it’s also comforting to deal with a solvable issue when your own issues can’t immediately be dealt with (this is an especially useful tip when you have family in the hospital and all you can do is wait). It sends good karma into the world — something I think we could all use more of these days.
And who knows? The person you help may very well be dealing with their own anxiety and depression. A little act of kindness can truly make a world of difference. Not sure where to start? This father & daughter team performed 39 random acts of kindness to get your creative, philanthropic juices started.
5. Write it down.
This is a technique I’ve used for years — I’ve actually kept a diary of sorts ever since 1993 (which I still have). While writing down your frustrations and articulating the things that are causing depression in your life may seem like the kind of task that would only make you more depressed, my experience has been the opposite. The moment I put my pain into words, the moment I’ve finally found a way to say what I’m feeling, I instantly feel better. Often it’s the unknown which can scare us. Writing down your troubles causes you to focus on what you are really feeling on so many levels, and gives you a blueprint for how to go about reducing your depression.
Just seeing how I feel written on paper makes me feel better — I get it off my chest, I say what I feel without the fear of hurting others. And funnily enough, writing it down feels almost like a reset. Like I’ve recorded it down and now I can move forward. Write down everything upsetting you. Write down your pain. Your anger. Your fears. You’d be surprised how liberating it can feel! And if that doesn’t work, try [safely] burning your paper after!
So tell me, what do you do when you want to feel instantly happier?