April 13, 2024

8 ways to find joy when it feels like the world is falling apart

So, how can you start a gratitude practice? There are myriad ways you can do this, from setting aside time to write a gratitude journal each day, or simply recording things you are grateful for in the notes section of your phone, or creating a WhatsApp group with friends where you can share your own gratitude and revel in your friends too.

It doesn’t even have to be that rigid if you struggle with setting daily tasks like this; simply saying three things you’re grateful for aloud – or in your head, if you’re in public – whenever you remember will bring you joy at that moment.

There are multiple studies from around the world that have sought to measure brain activity during chanting, and nearly all of the studies found that chanting improved mood and reduced stress levels.

2. Start chanting

Plus, chanting can help you sleep, boost serotonin and generally help you feel more uplifted – in a similar way to belting out your favourite song at the top of your voice. Whether you want to join a group class at your local yoga studio or just find a quiet space in your home, head to YouTube and dip in whenever you please, the calming and joyful effect can be felt during and after just one session.

3. Join a local library

Cast your mind back to Matilda: she lived a sad, lonely life, then she joined a library, immersed herself in books, and her life changed. We know that the story itself, written by Roald Dahl, is fiction, but the idea that books can bring us joy is a fact. It’s a way of escaping, learning, and letting your imagination run wild for a while, and joining a local library means you don’t need to shell out hundreds of pounds on buying new books (plus, it’s better for your community and the planet).

In fact, Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.

4. Dance

It’s one of the worst-kept secrets (luckily) that dancing makes you feel good. When you dance, your body releases endorphins, the chemical that triggers an increased feeling of well-being and, miraculously, reduces our perception of pain.

And you needn’t worry if your rhythm is off, because simply shaking your body around is also known to help regulate your nervous system and calm the body when it’s overstimulated. And, amazingly, some experts believe that you can actually help to heal trauma this way too. In Dr Peter Levine’s book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, he notes that animals can be observed shaking to release tension and stress, and there’s a suggestion that it can do the same for humans too.   The shaking or vibrating helps to release muscular tension, burn excess adrenaline, and calm the nervous system to its neutral state and, last but not least, it’s pretty freeing to do.

5. Take a walk

Darkness, of which there is a lot of during the winter months, can be depressing, but getting outside and getting some (perhaps sparse) sunlight, taking deep, refreshing breathes and just stepping away from our desks or sofas can spark joy almost immediately (as long as you’re properly bundled up).

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