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5 Secrets To Happiness During Challenging Times

by Sportitude
19 May 2020

"It's not about going out and running marathons... it's about is finding your level and slowly building up to it."

Settle down with a cuppa as psychologist Tim Dansie shares with you his mood-boosting tricks to fight off the winter blues and stay positive during difficult times.

With experience across a number of fields in sports psychology, Tim highlights the mental health benefits of everything from running and keeping active to the little things you can do to find joy in every day. 

Catch our summary and Tim’s tips below.

1. Exercise

Exercise can take many shapes and forms and is accessible to everyone – you don’t have to be a marathon runner to benefit. There is no specific equipment you need to kick-start an exercise routine – only the right attitude.

Elevating your heart rate triggers the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) in your brain - uplifting your mood to benefit not only your body, but also your mental wellbeing.

Besides our go-to exercise running, there are plenty of online fitness programs from yoga to CrossFit to inspire you and help you stay active at home or outdoors – and let’s not forget that walking itself has numerous benefits.

Be creative – use milk cartons for weight training if you don't have the equipment for dumbbell exercises or kettlebell exercises. Start a family bootcamp or aerobics dance class via video chat, or explore the walking trails and beaches in your area for nature therapy and mood-boosting sunshine.

Particularly as we’re heading into winter, it’s important to avoid the temptation to hibernate during the goosebump season, layer up with appropriate activewear and keep moving.

2. Give to others

Small gestures of kindness can have a huge impact in providing a sense of community and self-fulfilment in each day.

Whether you’re giving a smile and wave to a fellow runner as you pass by or offering to do a shopping trip for an elderly neighbour, the little things are often overlooked yet can make a real difference. Not only are you connecting with someone and making a meaningful impact, it feels good to be kind.

Giving a compliment can mean the world to someone in the moment, yet it costs nothing. Remember to say please and thank you as you grab a takeaway coffee, to support each other and acknowledge those that are supporting us.

3. Connect with positive people

The people we surround ourselves with can have a phenomenal influence on how we perceive the world. Positivity is infectious and whether you believe it or not, a smile can provide natural stress relief.

Connect with people that make you feel stronger, uplifted and supported - whether it’s a 15-minute video chat on your lunch break, catching up over an SDC (social distance coffee), or running with a buddy at the local park.

This ‘time out’ or distraction from internal negativity will make you feel lighter – allowing you to absorb a healthy dose of positivity in its place. More often then not, mood is a matter of perspective and with a little help from your friends, you can reignite your happiness and train your brain to focus on the bright side.

4. Learn new things

Particularly if you’re spending more time working or studying from home, days or weeks can start looking similar. To prevent going stir-crazy it’s just as important to keep your mind stimulated and active during isolation, like you do with your body through exercise.

Beyond sweating your way to better mental health, you could challenge your household to a board game, cook a new recipe, give yourself a change of scenery by gardening or learn a second language.

Embrace your creativity by drawing, painting or learning how to play a musical instrument. Working with your hands has therapeutic value and awakens your senses – whether kneading dough to make freshly baked scones, building a wooden nest box for local wildlife or sculpting with clay.

Take the opportunity to do that one ‘thing’ that you never had time for before and admire the little imperfections that make what you create unique.

5. Appreciate the little things

Taking notice of the little things can have a powerful, positive impact on your mood. Tune into your senses and appreciate the feel of rejuvenating sun on your skin or the tranquil sound of rain on your roof.

Perform self-care rituals to soothe your anxiety and cherish the little luxuries – whether it’s hugging your hands to a steamy mug of tea on a chilly morning, winding down after a long run with a relaxing bath or curling up with a good book. Find little, healthy ways to be kind to yourself.

Every day presents you with opportunities to enjoy the little pleasures in life. If you shift your focus away from negativity and nurture your gratitude towards these feel-good moments, you’ll find yourself more fulfilled when the day comes to an end and more motivated to take on tomorrow.  

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