Fri – Yay! or it was, until now, when yes, all seems a little Groundhog day . But it is still Friday and today the sun is shining . Almost 5 weeks into lockdown and things could start to feel a little tough.
We are missing family, friends, hugs, and dare I even say going to work ! Stress of home schooling and the un-known is playing with every one, and we may have lost our happy place .
This week focus on finding joy and meaning in a chaotic world.
Your “Happy Place” It’s where you go when you need a mood boost, a recharge, a fresh perspective. It’s a break from chaos, a retreat from uncertainty, a shelter from stress, a shot of vitality.
Everyone`s happy place is subjective. It is a place that makes your mind smile, calm down, and feel positive. It is a place that is safe, secure, and problem free.”
So, Music… This is where I truly go to find my happy place.
Music definitely affects our emotions. We tend to listen to music that reflects our mood. If we are happy we may listen to upbeat music; if we are sad we may listen to slower, moving songs; music can reminds us of happy tiles, we can associate certain songs or bands to certain periods in life. To find that happy place through music think of the times you were happy, the pace you were, who you were with and hat was playing at the time. Create a playlist that you can go to, that instantly takes you to that place.
Happy Place Playlist
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Not Nineteen Forever – Courteeners
Real Gone Kid – Deacon Blue
Set You Free – N-Trance
I Am The Resurrection – The Stone Roses
9-5 – Dolly Parton
Weak – Skunk Anansie
As you can see from a selection from my Happy Place, they do not have to be upbeat, it`s the memories that the songs bring back ! and they are great belters for singing !
Read, Write , & Podcasts
According to reports and some research, Reading makes you feel happier with yourself and your life. It is reported that reading leads to people being less stressed and less depressed (this is not a medical proven anti depressant) and having higher levels of self-esteem .
Reading & Writing stimulates your brain. It’s almost like a brain exercise. According to reports, reading and writing can make you smarter it can improve your emotional intelligence and decision making . Medical research is still studying but have found that reading can help keep your brain sharp and could prevent brain degenerative diseases and mental ageing.
If you enjoy reading, here are some tips to find time to read and find your happy
Make time, 1st thing in the morning before you pick up your phone, pick up your book and take 30 mins that you would spend scrolling, reading.
Start small, if you are not really a reader, don`t pick up a copy of War & Peace, grab a small book or even a magazine
Find books that are of interest to you– this is important, if you are not interested in the material, its a waste – find your genre and stick to it !
Set goals, tell yourself that you will spend 30 mins a day reading, it`s your 30 mins ! even if it means hiding away on the bathroom
Start or join a book club – Lockdown or not, with the availability of books on-line, create a House Party / Zoom book club ! you never know this could be a new pastime past the lockdown
If still like me you don`t do reading, AUDIO BOOKS !!! they are the way to go, my current “reading” material
The Secret Barrister – A MUST !!!! for anyone interested in how the law an courts actually do work and why , and all their failings this book is a MUST
Rocketman – Elton John Autobiography read by Taron Edgerton – 10 hours f being read to about a quite extraordinary life !
Another alternative is PODCASTS !!! what an invention? they have everything for your ears, comedy, lifestyle, education, what ever you are into there will be a podcast for you , Never listened to one before ? not sure how to get set up? then this weekend what are you waiting for? : The easiest way to listen via Android is to use the Google Podcasts app. – Head to the Play Store and search for “Google Podcasts”.or for apple, Download Apple Podcasts and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Search for a topic, or a person and see what comes up !
My current favourites
My Dad Wrote a Porno
Ron Burgundy Podcast
Older and Wider
The Guilty Feminist
Chris Moyles Podcast
There are so many out there and I think every topic in the world is covered ! Plug in and listen
Exercise / Move
The physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercise are endless , I think everyone knows and understands this– from increased energy and reduced stress to helping you find your happy place. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are attributed to feelings of happiness and euphoria.
Exercise doesn`t have to be a HIIT sweat fest, exercise is anything that gets you moving, gets the endorphins going, sets of the happy hormones, it maybe a dog walk, a yoga or pilates class, or a full on sweat fest! it is what ever makes you happy.
For me, it`s weights ! and yes lockdown is hard not being able to go heavy, push myself to go heavier, but I have adapted , I work with resistance bands, and I have found a renewed happiness in cardio, by offering free 30 min workouts via facebook live to my community !
Some tips on getting those endorphins flowing :
Consider your fitness goals, you don`t have to start exercise with a specific goal, you may just want to get moving ! and that is a great place to start.
Start low and progress slowly, do not google and set out to do a 60 min HIIT workout if you have barely walked 100m in a year , consider your own levels and also what you think you will like. Try as many things as possible !
Build activity into your daily routine, set aside 30 mins this weekend for you
Allow time for recovery, you do not have to go at it every day, we are looking at finding a happy place, not hell !!!!
Put it on paper. Write down what you have enjoyed and what you have not, and then take you new regime from there .
Cooking / Baking
A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that those who engage in creative projects (like cooking and baking) are happier in their day-to-day lives. Spending time in the kitchen can ease stress and restlessness, and enhance mindfulness creating a happy place, also for many , baking or cooking brings back memories of spending time with our mum or grandmother when we were kids, baking and licking the bowl out !
So, this weekend dig out a recipe and bake!
A simple and effective cake recipe (you don`t have to be Mary Berry) and at the end you will have something yummy to eat
200g caster sugar
200g softened butter
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
For the filling
140g icing sugar, sifted
drop vanilla extract (optional)
half a 340g jar good-quality strawberry jam (we used Tiptree Little Scarlet)
icing sugar, to decorate
Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line with non-stick baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat 200g caster sugar, 200g softened butter, 4 beaten eggs, 200g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tbsp milk together until you have a smooth, soft batter.
Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
Bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed.
Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the filling, beat the 100g softened butter until smooth and creamy, then gradually beat in 140g sifted icing sugar and a drop of vanilla extract (if you’re using it).
Spread the buttercream over the bottom of one of the sponges. Top it with 170g strawberry jam and sandwich the second sponge on top.
Dust with a little icing sugar before serving. Keep in an airtight container and eat within 2 days.
Meditation Balances the Body’s Systems. … “The relaxation response helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves,
I am not personally one for mediation, but have I know it does work, and it creates a happy vibe , it relaxes the body and relieves tension and worries ;
Here are some tips for getting started, give them a go this weekend
Sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair. Don’t slouch, but your back doesn’t need to be ramrod-straight either. At first, you may want to try sitting against a wall to support your back. Use extra pillows under your knees or anywhere else to make you comfortable.
Try lying down, if sitting to meditate is unappealing. Miriam Austin, author of Meditation for Wimps, recommends lying on the floor with your calves and feet resting on a chair seat.
Put on music, if that helps to calm you before beginning to meditate. Turn it off once you begin.
Set a digital (non-ticking) timer. Start with five minutes and work your way up to 10, then 15, and eventually 20. It will probably take weeks or months to lengthen the time you practice. Try not to put yourself on a schedule. Whatever your pace, it’s fine.
Breathe normally through your nose, with your mouth closed. Your eyes can be open or closed. Focus on the breath moving in and out of your nostrils, or on the rise and fall of your belly.
When you notice your mind wandering, bring it gently back to the breath. Be careful not to drift off; this will be tempting, especially if you’re lying down. While shutting off your mind is not the goal of meditation, neither is judging the meditative process. No matter what feelings or thoughts you have, simply bring your focus back to the breath again. And again.
If you need more assistance, there are many podcast and apps available with so much useful advice and tips – you never know this may become your go-to happy place !
Family & Friends
It`s a proven fact that friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship. Friends can also: Increase your sense of belonging and purpose. Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
More truths that friends and family help happiness are :
The Happiest People are the Most Social. …
Happiness Is Contagious. …
Friends Cut the Small Talk—and That Makes Us Happy. …
We Turn to Friends When We’re Stressed. …
Our Friends Help Us Feel Optimistic. …
Friendships Improve Our Health. …
Our Friends Help Us Live Longer.
So, this week – REACH OUT ! have a house party or Zoom chat, organise a drink and social (distancing) get together, play happy music, read to each other ! just connect