A big part of our health is our mental and emotional state. As you may know, May is national mental health awareness month in the U.S. and this makes it a great time to check in on our mood/emotions/mental health status. How do you feel, emotionally, the majority of the time? Are you happy? Meaning are you at-ease, content and generally enjoying your life?
If you’re having trouble answering this question – you are not alone! This is actually a tough question for many adults to answer. Why is that? One big reason is that we often look for our happiness outside of ourselves – in our circumstances. This makes whether or not we are happy dependent on outside factors, such as other people, relationships, financial status, etc. The issue with counting on these “outside factors” for our happiness, is that they are ever-changing, just like the weather. Therefore, whether or not we are “happy” becomes ever-changing.
To find more stable, consistent happiness, it helps to go “inside” (i.e. bringing the focus internal). We can start by trying to find things that we are grateful for every day – this helps immediately shift our focus toward the positive. The goal is to work towards being content with “what is.” Eventually we want to try to find ways to be okay with who, what and where we are in life.
Another great tool for increasing contentment and finding more consistent happiness is utilizing breath work to become present. Simply breathing (consciously) and being present in the now is one of the easiest, most accessible ways to find peace, contentment and, ultimately, happiness. Have you tried conscious breathing lately? If not – try it now! Take 5-10 deep breaths and fully exhale; or sigh deeply; or utilize “belly breathing.” These are all very simple but profoundly effective techniques to shift the state of your nervous system AND your mood/emotional state.
Other ways to increase your happiness quotient are making time for activities and things that light you up and bring you JOY. As adults, we often need to be intentional about making some time for fun, play and pleasure – but it is oh so important that we do. Life is meant to be enjoyed! So what can you do for fun this week? What lights you up? What allows you to be present and live in the moment?
Here are some fun ideas for you:
- Get outside – walk, run, bike, lay in the sun, play in the grass – whatever you want!
- Try a new hobby – consider taking an art class, cooking class or learning to knit or sew
- Dance – whether in a class or by yourself at home, dancing is SO good for us!
- Read a fun book or watch a good movie
- See a comedy show
- Move your body in ways you enjoy
- Engage with your community – get your friends and family together for tea or a meal
Becoming and remaining happy takes some work and some regular attention. It means becoming aware of our thoughts, patterns and finding the willingness to shift things, when necessary. It’s not about ignoring the realities of life or being 100% upbeat all of the time, but it’s about moving away from suffering and towards a place of gratitude, presence and peace.
And one final note: If you’re having difficulty with your mental-emotional health, feel free to get in touch or schedule a visit to come in. In naturopathic medicine, we consider the entirety of you, including your mental and emotional state, when it comes to achieving and maintaining health.