From being stuck at home to losing our once familiar routines, the past few months have taken a toll on our mental health.
Now that things are ever so slowly going back to normal, we’re pondering which parts of our old “normal” we want to return to – and honestly, it’s all been a bit overwhelming.
Put simply, we’re in a funk – and we want out. So, we’ve brainstormed the top ten things we like to do to lift our spirits when we’re feeling glum, and we’re sharing them with you in case you need a bit of inspiration, too.
One of the easiest ways to get into a funk is to avoid trying something for fear of failure. Whether it’s cooking something exciting, trying a new art or craft or pursuing a hobby you love, putting too much pressure on yourself to be instantly perfect is a sure-fire way to feel defeated. Instead, remember that any skill needs to be improved – the most successful people you can think of failed countless times before achieving their goal. Doing something simply because you enjoy it is one of the greatest forms of meditation.
Talk to a friend, or make a new one!
Nothing quite beats the high of a positive social interaction – the loneliness many of us have been feeling during isolation is the proof in the pudding. And while you may not be able to talk face-to-face with your nearest and dearest, never underestimate the power of a phone call or friendly text message to boost your mood and theirs. Take it a step further and make a new friend – it could be the barista at your local cafe, someone you see on your evening walks or a neighbour. Extend a friendly ‘hello’ and you never know what will happen.
Start a new book or TV show
Finding a new source of entertainment to fall in love with may not be productive, but boy, will it boost your mood. Whether it’s a gripping yet cheesy drama show or a murder mystery book, finding something to get absorbed in can relieve stress, improve your memory, increase empathy and stimulate your creativity. If you’re feeling really inspired by the lives of the characters, you may even consider pursuing a hobby or venture that is depicted in the book or movie.
Give more compliments
Did you know that giving compliments is incredibly beneficial for your mental health? While research shows that receiving compliments can do wonders for our performance, social interactions and general happiness, experts say that giving them is even more beneficial. Much like giving gifts, giving compliments make our regular interactions more enjoyable and bring out a reciprocating warmth. Try giving someone a genuine compliment and notice how it lifts your spirits.
Tick something off the ‘to do’ list
Whether you check, tick or cross items off your ‘To Do’ list, there’s no denying that the practice feels gooooood. But why? The small act of ticking a task off a list does wonders for your motivation, both at a superficial and a chemical level – when you recognise a task as completed, your brain releases a load of dopamine that makes you feel accomplished, satisfied and happy. What’s more, this dopamine release encourages you to continue completing tasks in order to extend that feeling of accomplishment. Cool, huh?
Write a ‘ta da’ list
Just as a ‘To Do’ list can help you feel more accomplished, so too can writing a ‘Ta Da’ list. If you’re the kind of person who writes, and then immediately checks off, ‘Make To Do list’ on your ‘To Do’ list, then you’re already familiar with the concept of a ‘Ta Da’ list – a list of things you’ve already achieved, created solely for the purpose of triggering that aforementioned dopamine release that inspires you to keep productive. Your ‘Ta Da’ list encourages you to count all of the things you have already accomplished, and give yourself credit for them – whether that’s in a single day, a week or throughout your lifetime.
Do a random act of kindness
There’s no doubting the fact that when you do good, you feel good, and science backs it up. According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, doing something positive for someone else releases oxytocin, lowering our blood pressure, improving heart health and even self-esteem, and stimulates the production of serotonin, which calms you down and makes you happy. What’s more, showing kindness to another person fires up your brain’s pleasure and reward centres, triggering what’s known as a “helper’s high”.
We do it every single day, but chances are, most of us aren’t harnessing the power of our breaths to improve our moods. Breathing deeply can decrease stress, relieve pain, detoxify the body, increase energy and improve our digestion (among many other things) and the more often you do it, the better. While breathing deeply is something that we can do naturally, on our own, there are a number of apps which can remind you to practice breathing exercises more often. Click here for just a few of them.
Visit somewhere new
Our worlds have shrunk to the size of our homes – only recently have we been able to explore within a 50km radius. Put simply, we’ve been seeing a LOT of the same stuff, over and over again, and it’s making us go a little stir crazy. And while international and inter-state travel are still off the cards, chances are there are a number of places within 150km of your home that you’ve never been before. Knowing that visiting new places helps us stave off cabin fever (which can have profound consequences for our physical and mental health… there’s a reason ‘solitary confinement’ is the worst punishment for prisoners) make an effort to get out and about – whilst still abiding by restrictions – and you’ll shake that funk off in no time.
Filter your social media
If feelings of inadequacy or societal pressure are contributing to your funk, it’s likely that social media is to blame – especially considering the fact that it’s been our main form of socialisation these past few months. Scroll through your Instagram or your Facebook and pause when you feel any kind of negative emotion, be it a hit to your self-esteem, anxiety about your work or financial position or something that triggers past trauma. Ask yourself if that account brings you genuine happiness and, if it doesn’t, block, mute or unfollow it on the spot. Then, take care to only follow or friend people who make you feel good – the difference it makes to your daily mood will astound you.