It’s often said that happiness is a choice. Shakespeare once said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Life will always throw things at us, many of them unexpected. It’s the way we choose to respond that makes a big difference. But can people really not only remain positive and productive, but actually choose to be happy while life is now in lockdown? Isn’t that easier said than done? Can people really choose to be happy at such a stressful time amid these global health, social and economical challenges?
Staying positive is a state of mind
Psychologists back up claims that at least a part of our happiness is man-made. In fact, one of the most quoted facts about happiness goes as follows: 50% of happiness is determined by our genes, 10% of happiness by the circumstances in which we live and 40% of happiness is determined by our actions, our attitude or optimism, and the way we handle situations. Admittedly, that’s a comforting message: even though there is a certain genetic disposition to be happy, there are many things in life that we can change to be happy and 40% is certainly a large margin of manoeuvre! So, happiness and being positive are a choice! Just imagine that for every minute you are angry or irritated, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.
More importantly, studies indicate that being happy is associated with a better immune system. In a study by researchers Sheldon Cohen and the Carnegie Mellon University, results showed that people who were happier and exhibited more positive emotions were less susceptible to common colds and illnesses. So, here are our top tips on how to choose happiness and remain positive and productive during the Coronavirus crisis.
Top tips to remain positive
Schedule and maintain a connection with the people you love – Even if it can’t be a physical one, it’s helpful to have a support system and be surrounded by the right people who will make you smile. So, figure out which social interactions are most important for you – maybe a virtual happy hour with your best friends or co-workers that you’re accustomed to seeing daily – and determine what’s crucial for your well-being. Then set up virtual dates and add them into your calendar. It may feel a bit weirder, but scheduling makes it far more likely to happen as you stick to a plan.
Social distance, not social isolation – Social distance does not mean no social contact. Although face-to-face conversations are best, phone calls, texts, or FaceTime video chats to friends, can really help to make sure that we fill some of the gaps. Another great idea is to make the most out of apps that can help us stay connected to each other. HouseParty for example, is a popular face-to-face social networking app which allows you to communicate and have fun. You can even play a variety of games with your friends in the app. Moreover, social media and online gaming can be very entertaining and a resourceful way to meet and chat with new people!
Get some exercise – whether the weather is nice or foul, getting outside for some physical exercise will benefit you and your mental health. When you exercise, your heart rate increases, and your body pumps more oxygen to your brain. That process can affect your overall positivity, as multiple studies have found that a well-oxygenated brain helps manage anxiety and depression.
Do something creative – When we focus our attention on creating something without pressure of expectations, our nervous system can begin to regulate all the underlying anxieties. And if you enjoy what you’re creating, you release dopamine and counter that fatigue.
Look after others – it’s easy to concentrate on our own needs, but it feels good at times like this to act. And there are others out there who need our action as well as the small acts of kindness. For example, you could check in with your neighbours to ensure they have what they need, as well as donate to organisations that run benevolence programs for those who are struggling right now.
Top tips to remain productive
Focus on your priorities – Create a to-do list for the tasks you need to accomplish each day. Because it is so easy to get off task while working from home, having a checklist of the things you need to get done will help you visualise your progress. More important than normal, it’s worth trying to break big ambiguous problems into smaller tasks that have an obvious done / not done status.
Give yourself a break – Don’t add to the extrinsic stress levels of the Coronavirus crisis by adding pressure on yourself. We’re all going through a lot of life changes at the same time, and it’s good to acknowledge that we’re not all going to be working at peak performance for a little while until we adapt to the ‘new normal’. Remote working also means no office distractions and increased focus, hence this makes it all the more important to take breaks quite often. When you hit a roadblock or find yourself distracted – give yourself a break! Home workouts are also a great way to start your day or take a break. Apps such as Fiit and Noom offer lots of at-home workouts and health advice. Most importantly, regular breaks will help you relax and unwind as well as remain positive.
Plan your schedule – With this newfound time and flexibility, it’s important to define a clear schedule that works for you and maximises your productivity. Discover when you are most productive and build your work schedule around your peak productivity periods.
Don’t work in your PJ’s – If you enjoy working in your PJ’s, then you are killing your productivity. “Dress for success” isn’t just a corporate catchphrase; it really matters when you work from home. Beyond psychologically getting you in the right mindset for work, you’ll be ready to handle any kind of video chat or check-in with a teammate. You’ll be ready to get work done, and you will be mentally and physically prepared for the day.
Don’t procrastinate – Look at your to-do list and actually do everything on it. Don’t do 90 percent of it and tell yourself that you’ll just make it up and do it tomorrow. You’ll create a cycle of constantly pushing things off to another day that is very hard to get out of.
Use video chat – Working from home can get pretty lonely so, make it a point to chat with colleagues, team members, or clients each day. It matters. In fact, video chat is a great way to stay connected and communicate effectively with your team. Therefore, meet regularly, and don’t forget to relax and have a little fun.
Working from home takes discipline and if you’re new to that, it may take you a little time to find your groove. The key is to keep a good work-life balance, establish boundaries, and take care of yourself. So, begin today by taking responsibility for your own contentment by making productivity, happiness and staying positive your choice!
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