I have to be honest, I don’t like the word ‘coronacoaster’ and I’m loath to use it in this post, but I have to admit it does a pretty good job of describing how life has been for the past year.
There have been so many ups and downs, so many moments of hope and community spirit and unexpected joy, followed by moments of frustration and despair and grief in all its forms.
If you’re in one of the dips at the moment, there are some small things you can try that don’t take too much effort or energy but can really help to give your mood a little bit of a boost until things start to even out again.
Have a little dance party
Put on your favourite music, turn it up loud and have a dance around.
A study carried out by university researchers at York and Sheffield found that dancing to music for just 5 minutes is enough to give us a happiness boost, as well as improve our creative-thinking patterns.
And if you choose upbeat songs from the past that bring up a sense of nostalgia, so much the better. Songs that take us back to fun, joyful moments in our lives have been found to give us a dopamine boost and make us feel happier.
Have a cwtch
An incredibly quick way to get a happiness hit is to have a hug with someone; so grab your partner, your child, or your dog and have a cuddle.
Studies have shown that hugs, cuddles, and cwtches help our bodies produce both oxytocin and endorphins, which make us feel happier.
The more hugs you can get in a day the better, because they can also help boost your immune system, make you feel less afraid, lower your blood pressure, and help you communicate better.
Watch something silly
Get on YouTube and find some videos to watch that you know will make you laugh.
It might be a compilation of babies laughing, or the internet classic of animals doing silly things (my children have discovered these recently and think they’re hilarious!).
For me it will always be TV and movie bloopers. They crack me up every time. It’s something to do with seeing the actors break character and the laughter that follows is always so infectious.
If you’ve not seen the clip of Jennifer Aniston in hysterical laughter in the bagpipe scene in Friends, you need to go and watch it right now!
Go for a walk in nature
I know going for another walk might not feel like the most fun thing to do right now, but there are quite a few great reasons for getting out there anyway.
A study at the University of Vermont found that visiting an urban park gave people a happiness boost that lasted up to four hours after they left. The effect of spending time outside nature was so strong that the researchers said it was equivalent to the mood-boost that people get at Christmas.
Loads of other studies have found the same thing – spending time out in nature makes us feel happier, calmer, and just better all round.
Call your ‘feel-good’ friend
You know that friend or family member who always manages to put a smile on your face? The one who just always seems to be upbeat, and whose energy is infectious? Grab the phone and give them a call, or arrange a zoom get-together with them.
A study at the University of Warwick found that we can pick up moods from other people, so making the effort to spend time with happy people really can make us feel happier too.
Do some random acts of kindness
Even the smallest act of kindness towards someone else can give us a boost of happiness.
Doing nice things for other people, from tweeting about a positive experience with a small business to adding a few items to your weekly shop for the local food bank, can make a big difference to how happy you feel.
So get together with your family and come up with a list of random acts of kindness you can carry out together – I’ve put together a list of kindness ideas if you’re not sure where to start.
Getting your children involved will boost the whole family’s happiness levels – studies have shown that just watching acts of kindness gives us a dose of oxytocin (the love hormone) which helps lower stress and anxiety levels as well as helping us feel more connected to our loved ones.
Wish others well
If you need something even smaller than a random act of kindness, try simply wishing people well.
Literally, as you pass someone on your next walk try giving them a smile and thinking to yourself that you wish for them to be well and happy.
A study carried out at Iowa State University found that offering kindness to others, even if it’s just in our thoughts, can reduce anxiety and increase happiness.
Give yourself a treat
Find something that feels like a little treat to you, and then make time in your day to indulge in it.
It could baking a cake to enjoy with your family, or getting something special in for dinner with your partner.
It might be curling up for half an hour with a good book and something chocolatey.
Maybe it’s a bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon or painting your nails in a pretty new colour.
It doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as it is something that you love, something that you really enjoy and that makes you feel good.
Curate your social media feeds
Social media has a strange way of making us feel bad about ourselves, our homes, and our lives in general if we’re not careful.
So give yourself a happiness boost by curating your feeds.
Go through all the accounts you’re following and either mute or unfollow any that make you feel ‘less’ in any way. Then find new accounts to follow that will bring a dose of joy to your feeds.
Whether it’s cute animals, inspiring quotes, honest and funny parenting stories, pretty interiors or bright colourful images, find the things that make you feel happy when you scroll past them and fill your feeds with them instead of the things that drain you.