Arini Vlotman’s top tips for maintaining a healthy and happy outlook
The new year is here… already. One minute we were bombarded with Christmas songs and obscene amounts of food and the next, we’re setting our alarms for the start of work year. It’s no wonder that we feel a bit of depression sinking in.
We’re all familiar with that feeling; your energy levels are low, you can’t seem to motivate yourself and don’t know how you’re going to get through the week, let alone the rest of the year.
Here are some tips to help:
1.Celebrate Every Moment
Bagged a big client? Have a special dinner to celebrate. Passed that exam? Invite friends over for a get together. Impressed your difficult boss? Get yourself that extra-large chococino.
The reality is that happiness is fleeting. The hormones that cause that feeling of euphoria (serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin) once released, ebb over time, whether in minutes or days and eventually disappear from your body leaving you feeling a bit down in the dumps. Instead of chasing those big ‘highs’, keep celebrating the little things. This will help balance the negative emotions that you experience daily.
2. Toss the New Year’s Resolutions
I am not the biggest fan of making New Year’s Resolutions. I make them when I’m in the middle of the festive season, surrounded by messages of goodwill, family and fun. Instead, I’ve set myself up for failure. What I should have done was set a goal. A realistic, achievable goal that will give me a reason to celebrate once I’ve achieved it. And that goal should be something that I want to do, not a chore.
3. Enjoy the Present
How often have you said in a conversation, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to… fill in the space – go on that cruise, buy that car, move into that dream house?” The flip side of that coin, “Remember back when… we bought our first car, shopped for our first apartment, went on our first weekend away.” As human beings, we tend to look to the future or dwell in the past instead of being in the moment. Ok, the holidays were great, and your birthday is around the corner but today you’re going to watch your favourite movie with a big bowl of popcorn and a slab of chocolate.
4. Don’t avoid your feelings
Anxiety, stress, fear, sadness all have a bad reputation. They are negative emotions but they are necessary to maintain a balanced life. In order to appreciate joy you need to know what the absence of joy is. A certain level of stress and anxiety can help you achieve your goals and motivate you to do better. While a healthy amount of fear will force you to pause when making a decision or think deeper before taking a big leap, it is ok to feel sad or angry. Acknowledge that what you are feeling now will not last forever; if approached in a healthy manner, it will get you to a better space.
5. Maintain those relationships
Humans are social creatures. Whether you are the life of the party or not, you need to have quality relationships with family and friends in order to function. Sharing your highs and lows with those around you helps you stay in the present and keeps you grounded. Likewise, supporting your loved ones and giving them boosts when they need it will make you feel valuable and needed.
6. Give Back
Many studies have found that the happiness found in giving back to others lasts longer than if you focus only on your own needs and wants. You can do this in quick and easy ways that are manageable. Donate a book at your local library, drop you spare change in that charity’s box at the till of your local supermarket or spend some time cuddling puppies at your local animal shelter. How much you want to do is up to you.
Let’s go into this year with a healthy, happy outlook and get rid of those Blues!