Yay summer holidays and Christmas are almost here. We had high hopes that 2021 would be better than 2020, and it was so good for most of it. Shame about the last few months, but we can still finish strong and get off to a great start in 2022!
The Covid-19 Insights Tracker from Perceptive indicates that people are feeling pretty positive and happy (graph as of 4 December 2021 for all regions).
Clearly, we’re a resilient bunch, despite what you might think when you watch the news or listen to the media. So, keep doing what you’re doing! But if you’re feeling the happiness start to slide, here are our top tips:
1. Practise awe
Psychologists say the emotion of awe plays a significant role in our health, happiness, and wellbeing. Awe makes us feel small, and that’s good for us because then we can see ourselves as just a part of something bigger. You don’t need to visit Cathedral Cove or climb Mt Cook; you can find it anywhere
- walk around your backyard or neighbourhood looking for tiny examples that awe you, like the fold of a petal or an insect balancing on a leaf
- look at photographs of awe-inspiring locations
- watch a sunrise or head out after dark and check out the night sky
2. Spend time outdoors
Being summer, this one should be easy, but we’ve lived through countless wet summers to know we can’t count on sunny days all through January! The trick is to go outside anyway.
- start your day with a walk, jog, swim or cycle or even just a turn around the garden or up and down the street
- eat outside whenever you can
- take the kids toys outside and muck around with them
3. Tune out the negative – don’t doom scroll
Doom scrolling is the ‘act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to absorbing negative news’. In other words, reading negative news or posts one after another. It’s an easy trap to fall into as we idly flick through our phones, but the negative effect on our mental wellbeing is proven. To stop the scroll:
- try to be more mindful of what news you’re taking in and what sources you’re following
- keep some time as sacred and screen-free
- Say STOP out loud and put your phone down if you catch yourself at it. Eventually, your brain will work out that you mean it.
4. Try something new
There’s nothing as memorable as a first experience. Whether it be your first kiss, the first time you held your baby, the first time you took in a view from the top of a mountain, the first swim of the summer – you create something memorable, you lose a little fear, you stimulate creativity and your brain. If you haven’t done these things before, we recommend giving them a go this summer
- leap off a rope swing
- picnic somewhere new
- sleep under the stars
5. Let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can
Our last top tip, as always, is to focus on what you can control and forget about the rest. Feeling on top of your finances can make a big difference to your stress levels.
- set a budget for Christmas and holidays, so you don’t overspend
- start to build up a rainy-day fund to offset any emergency spending
- sort out your life insurance so that you know if the absolute worst happens, your loved ones will be, financially, ok
None of us can stop a global pandemic on our own and, unless you’re Jacinda, you can’t change the traffic light system. But you can take care of yourself, set expectations, look at the stars, get lots of sleep and have a merry Christmas.