- It’s easy to feel down with everything going on in our world, but Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale University, says it is important to cultivate happiness for it’s potential health benefits alone. “There’s evidence that positive moods can boost our immune system and can protect us from respiratory viruses, so it’s not something to feel guilty about; it’s a smart strategy just like washing our hands.” Here are her tips:
- Double down on physical self-care – especially exercise. Gretchen Rubin, author of numerous books including “The Happiness Project”, says that the first step in boosting happiness is to take care of your body. “Your physical experience will always influence your emotional experience,” she says. “And exercise is the magical elixir of life.”
“You’ll actually foster inner joy by slowing to meditate for even five minutes at a time,” says Manly. “Meditation increases feel-good neurochemicals, as it reduces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.”
- Improve sleep hygiene.
A good night’s sleep is hard to come by when you’re self-quarantined in a global pandemic, but rest is crucial to both physical and mental wellness. Take extra measures to at least try to regulate your sleep. “I recommend setting an alarm to go to bed, just as you set one to wake up in the morning,” says Rubin.
- Connect with other people.
“Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree that connecting with people is truly important,” Rubin says, adding that even if we’re alone in quarantine, we mustn’t deprive ourselves of social interaction. “We’re fortunate that we have so much technology we can use to connect with people who aren’t nearby. Now’s also the time to look out for our loved ones who may not know how to use these technologies. Make sure they’re not left out or isolated.”
- Make your bed and declutter your space.
“A lot of people feel more inner calm and happiness when their outer surroundings are more clutter-free,” says Rubin, who wrote the book, “Outer Order, Inner Calm.” “Decluttering can be difficult now, with more people home and a heavier load on your household, but whatever you can do can help give you a sense of control over your life. Making your bed, for instance, actually can make you feel better.”
- Experience nature – even if that’s just looking at a photo.
We may have to work a bit harder to access nature right now, with many county and state parks closed, but if you can put that extra effort in, you’ll likely be happy you did. “Exposure to natural environments has been linked with better general health and less stress,” says Allison Buskirk-Cohen, associate professor and chair of the psychology department at Delaware Valley University.