An existence that was once depicted in science fiction novels where social distancing rules prevent physical contact and we are forced to trade our freedom for extended periods of regimented lockdown, would have seemed far fetched just six weeks ago.
As the world learns to adapt to the new way of living, many businesses are devising creative ways to keep their doors open by offering new products and services delivered to your door, and individuals are diversifying their skill sets by reigniting personal projects that were once forgotten.
Humans are naturally resilient, but the recent social shift has urged us all to consider the way we live in order to stay happy, motivated, and stress-free. If the COVID-19 crisis has left you feeling anxious about the future, there are some scientifically proven ways to boost your mood.
Ever had an idea you wished you could explore, or an interest you were just too busy to focus on? With all this spare time on your hands, now is the perfect time to start. Studies have shown that people with hobbies or interests outside of work are typically happier, less stressed, and more motivated to achieve their goals.
There are loads of online tools available to help you build a website, create a product, write a blog, learn an instrument, paint a picture, or improve your fitness; plus many online institutions such as EdX and Coursera offer hundreds of free online courses and workshops teaching just about anything you can think of. Youtube can even teach you skills you never knew you needed, like how to make kombucha, build a campfire or be a better dancer.
The hardest part is starting, so why not commit to one new personal project this month and see how it feels?
It’s easy to think that meditation is reserved for those who have reached some sort of enlightenment after years of practice, or that we’re just too busy. But I’ve got good news: anyone can practice meditation with just a few minutes each day.
In fact, meditation can be as simple as taking time out from the constant stimuli of modern life to refocus your mind. This process of emptying the mind relieves stress, balances your mood and aids general mental wellbeing. You’ll sleep better, too.
Practice with just a few minutes of controlled breathing exercises each day, being conscious to focus on each breath while letting the thoughts in your mind come and go. Apps like Headspace and Calm offer guided exercises to help you get started.
Limit your news consumption
The global media coverage of the pandemic has played a vital role in sharing important information from health experts and governments during the crisis, but there’s also a downside. Constant exposure to negative headlines causes prolonged personal worry, anxiety and panic when consumed on a daily basis.
For a change of pace, try switching off your regular news channels and instead tune in to uplifting topics such as personal growth, mindfulness, arts, humanity, health & wellbeing, or satire.
Take a virtual yoga class
Self isolation doesn’t mean dropping your wellness routine. Regular yoga practice can help you feel more grounded, boost your mood, and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, too. Studies have found yoga’s ability to improve mood and lessen anxiety is linked to increased levels of chemical in the brain that helps to regulate nerve activity.
Yoga studio Humming Puppy is now offering free online classes to help you stay grounded during lockdown. Feel like going it alone? There are plenty of apps that can teach you the basics so you can move at your own pace.
Attend a live gig
Listening to music is an easy way to alter your mood and relieve stress. According to Psychology Today, listening to your favourite song or artist can evoke positive emotional responses through the release of neurotransmitters associated with reward, such as dopamine.
As Australia adjusts to life in lockdown, countless gigs, tours and festivals have been cancelled — but artists have vowed that the show must go on. We can’t go to gigs, but you can still discover the best music experiences from local artists and venues from the comfort of your living room.
The team behind Woodford Folk Festival are producing Woodfordia Artists Live Stream series, and Melbourne-based music organisation The Boite have announced a wide range of live shows, from MAS (Melbourne Amplified Strings) to Japanese acoustic guitarist Chuei San, and global music group Samassin. View the full line up via Facebook.
Looking for a quick and easy way to boost your mood? Take a walk in the park. Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. What’s more, breathing in nature gives us heightened sensory awareness, too. When we spend time outdoors, we are more mindful of what we see, what we hear, what we smell, and what we feel.
So while there are rules around staying home for the time being, there’s nothing preventing you from finding a local walking trail or green space to do some exercise. You’ll notice an improvement in your overall mood, focus and relationships after just a few sessions.
Need more inspiration?
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