Our Deputy Programme Team Leader for Psychology, Sophie Ward, provides some helpful tips on how to stay healthy and positive during difficult times.

Stuffed bunny beside a jar that says happiness jar

In 2012, the United Nations proclaimed 20th March the International Day of Happiness, recognising the importance of human happiness and wellbeing across the world. Today, Arden University Deputy Programme Team Leader for Psychology, Sophie Ward, seeks to remind us of this importance, and provides some helpful tips on how to stay healthy and positive during difficult times.

The theme for this year’s International Day of Happiness is ‘happier together.’ Given the challenges we currently face as a global community, including the climate crisis, impeding financial crisis, and the current coronavirus pandemic, focusing on what we have in common, rather than what divides us is more important than ever.

We should be working together to increase happiness and wellbeing across the world. I would therefore like to take this day to encourage you to:

Smile

It’s said that smiling lead to an increase in positive mood and a reduction in stress. So, even if you don’t feel like smiling, give it a try! You might just be surprised at how much happier you feel. You could also improve the mood of others around you. Remember, smiling is contagious!

Interact with others

During challenging times, it is easy to shut yourself away from the world – but this can lead to poor physical and mental health. Life is happier when we’re together, so try to make a conscious effort to socialise with others and have meaningful contact.
Of course, this is tricky given the current health crisis, but staying in touch still plays an important role in tackling loneliness and social isolation. Try reaching out to family and friends via social media, email and video chat if you’re not able to leave the house.

Start a happiness jar

Starting a happiness jar can be a great way to enhance your wellbeing. To create a happiness jar, simply find an empty glass jar (you can decorate it if you wish) and begin writing happy thoughts, memories and events onto colourful post-it notes, fold up the notes and pop them into the jar. Try to place at least one note a day into the jar - or if you find this difficult, start with one per week - and watch the notes build up. Not only will this get you thinking more positively, but during difficult times, you can open the jar and read through all the positive notes you have made. 

If the happiness jar isn’t for you, you might try creating a list. Three types of lists that can be surprisingly helpful are a to-do list, worry list and happiness list. 

Stay informed

During times of uncertainty we can become fearful, our stress levels increase, and our mental health and wellbeing suffers. Some of this uncertainty comes from conflicting media coverage, social media and even friendly gossip. This makes it even more important than ever to check the source of our information and minimise our exposure to potentially unreliable sources. We should stay informed, but not allow problems to control our lives. 

If you would like to find out more about happiness and wellbeing, check out the latest World Happiness Report.

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