How to be happy during a pandemic

It’s been almost a year now since the world turned upside down and this situation brings different challenges to each of us. For some it’s loss of work, for others it’s being locked up in your home most of the day, and for many it has caused some level of anxiety for either our own health or that of loved ones. It’s doesn’t look like this situation is over any time soon, but life goes on anyway, so it’s important to make the best of this time as well. One of the main things I’ve learned from my parents is to enjoy life, so in this post I’ll share some of my methods to be happy during this strange time.

1. Stop watching the news
Pandemic or not, it’s a good idea to ignore the news. At least for a bit. Since I finished my bachelor of Journalism many years ago, I’ve almost never read a newspaper anymore and I hardly watch the news on television. The main reason: it’s always negative. Your mind is like a garden: whatever you plant in it will grow. If you watch or read the news everyday, you’re exposing yourself to so much negativity that it’s no wonder you’ll be more worried and anxious. Instead of watching the news, find sources of positivity. Read good books, listen to uplifting music, watch a feel-good movie or laugh with one of your favorite sitcoms . This is not about ignoring the world around you, but more a matter of choosing consciously what you fill your mind with. If there is news you need to know, like a lockdown or curfew, it’ll reach you. You don’t have to search for it. If not following the news is too extreme for you, you can also decide to just watch or read less news. In a very interesting book I recently read, called Make Time, the authors recommended to check the news weekly. That’s enough not be completely isolated from the world and not too much to be covered in negativity all the time. I think that could be a balanced way to deal with the news.

2. Go outside every day
There are many studies about the positive effects of moving and exercise. Even a walk of 15 minutes can make you feel better. Especially if you have some nature nearby, that can really help you to calm your mind and improve your mood. I challenged my mom to walk 10.000 steps every day and we both enjoy it a lot. Being stuck at your home all day long can easily make you feel depressed, so decide for yourself to go outside ever day, no excuses. It’s essential for your physical and mental health and you’ll probably feel a lot happier when you’re back home from some time outside.

3. Call and FaceTime people you can’t visit
I really miss my friends in America. It’s been over two years that I visited some of them and I can’t wait to see them again. But as long as traveling is not an option, I make sure to stay in touch with them however I can. You probably also have people that you can’t visit at the moment. I’m so thankful that we have modern technology. Staying in touch with people all over the world has become very easy. Letting people know you think of them can be as simple as sending a text from time to time or to give them a call. Even better, just FaceTime them sometimes so you can actually see each other. You can take it a step further in sharing moments together, like putting your tablet or laptop on the dinner table some time so you can enjoy a meal together or go for a walk while calling or FaceTiming (just make sure you stay alert for the traffic of course ;-)). Another nice thing to do is to old-fashioned style send them a postcard. I recently found out that it can take about a month for a postcard to arrive in another continent. My friends found it a nice surprise to get a Christmas card at the end of January.

4. Make the time useful
Being stuck at home gives you a lot more time. Since you can’t go out for dinner or drinks, you have more hours left in the week. What are things you normally never get to? Do you want to learn a new language or develop a skill like drawing? This crazy period is a perfect opportunity to spend more time on those kind of things. I find that I read a lot more now than I used to and I’m very happy about that. This pandemic won’t last forever, so for as long as it goes on, make sure you use this time in a good way. What do you want to have accomplished when the world goes back to normal? How cool would it be if you speak a new language at the end of the pandemic or that you’ve learned to cook many new recipes or that you’ve written your first book? You probably have a lot more time on your hands now, so use this opportunity!

5. Get cozy
With the world being uncertain and many anxious people around us, it can be challenging to stay positive sometimes. Make sure you take good care of yourself. You probably know the things you miss the most now. How can you find a replacement for it? One of the things I miss the most is the cozy atmosphere of a small coffee place to hang out. I found on YouTube several coffee place ambience videos like this one: Coffee Shop Music Ambience with Relaxing Jazz Music on Background. When I turn that on a big screen and make myself a nice cup of coffee or tea, I almost feel like I’m actually at a coffee place and I can forget about the situation. It actually inspired me to write this blog post tonight. Being in this virtual coffee place, doing some drawing and writing, I really enjoy this moment. Perhaps we can’t share a real cup of coffee now, but why don’t you join me in this coffee place and get comfortable? Make yourself a nice cup of tea, with perhaps some home-made brownies or cookies and relax for a bit. Read a good book or be creative and enjoy the moment. One day we’ll be in real coffee places again, but for now: make the best of the time we have today.

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