Still reeling from all the ways the world has changed? You’re hardly alone. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has been doing ongoing surveys since May 2020 to check in on Canadians’ pandemic health. As of July 2021, roughly 30% of Canadians were reporting “moderate to severe anxiety about returning to pre-pandemic routines”. Unsurprisingly, Canadians have reported higher levels of stress, sadness and isolation since the beginning of the pandemic.
People have used this time to look at their lives in a way they hadn't before. Many of us have used this time to reevaluate various aspects of our lives, including:
- daily routines and commutes,
- careers and
- emotional well-being.
Our desire to be happy and make time for our mental health has never been more in the spotlight.
But how can we thrive in uncertain times? To start, it helps to:
- stay connected to the people we love (virtually when needed),
- be kind to each other, and
- take concrete steps every day to boost feelings of happiness.
To get your happiness levels up, here are five things you can do – starting today:
1. Stop doomscrolling and tune out the negative
Doomscrolling refers to the habit of compulsively reaching out for news as a coping mechanism. Staying informed during times of rapid change is important. Consuming too much bad news can trigger unhealthy side effects.
Ditch the unrelenting diet of bad news. Be more intentional about what you’re reading and watching. Try picking up a book or watching shows that take you far away from the headlines. When you do turn to the news, listen to credible sources.
2. Distract yourself with hobbies that make you happy
Dwelling on negative thoughts or information — particularly things we cannot change — exacerbates stress. A temporary distraction can be a great medicine for troubled times.
Distracting yourself can mean finding a new hobby or returning to one you used to enjoy. Consider the activities that used to bring you joy and give them another shot. Or, try something new, such as:
- a new language,
- a physical activity like running or walking, or
- drawing or painting.
Can't decide what to take up? There are online groups for practically everything. So research an activity you always wondered about and give it a try.
3. Spend time outdoors to improve your mood
One of the best antidotes to stress is being out in natural surroundings.
Study after study demonstrates the stress-relieving impact of a simple stroll in a park. Even just looking at photographs of nature can induce calming effects and a quicker recovery from stress.
A simple walk around the block can also improve our mood.
Physical activity can distract you from your worries and lift your spirits. Get out there — even a few minutes a day can do wonders.
Just remember to keep following social distancing guidelines. For example, you may have gotten used to wearing masks indoors when you’re inside businesses and venues. But local guidelines may also recommend wearing masks outdoors when you can’t maintain physical distance with others.
4. Keep celebrating special occasions
Milestone birthdays and special occasions are still happening. They just need to happen in safe, distanced ways. You can still always join the party virtually, over video chat. After all, sharing a big event can have lasting effects on the mental health of those you care about.
It might take more inspiration and effort to pull it off. Thankfully, confinement has given rise to creative celebration options of all kinds.
You may be able to attend in-person events with friends and family. Be sure to follow the latest rules, recommendations and restrictions around social gatherings.
5. Reduce financial stress and take control of your future
We all have to learn to live with a certain amount of uncertainty. Still, you can lessen some of the stress of the unknown. Start by identifying the things you can control, and taking steps to prepare.
For one, feeling financially secure can counteract uncertainty about your future. A recent Sun Life survey found that 45% of Canadians feel less financially secure since the pandemic began. And, 55% of people 18-34 years old changed their financial goals as a result.
Reviewing and organizing your finances can help you feel less stressed about the future. Having or building an emergency fund is a good place to start. It can help offset job losses, reduced hours or other unexpected costs. Being prepared to face financial setbacks can boost feelings of well-being.
- Need help with your finances? An advisor can help you build a plan that meets your needs and goals. They can also answer questions and address any financial concerns you may have. Most advisors now offer to meet Clients virtually by video chat. Find an advisor today.