As the Covid-19 lockdowns lift across the world, this might be your first week at work or your first week back at the hustle and it’s your chance to set the vibes by introspecting for good, taking self care and self love seriously and making you your own major project because a happy, grateful life is the life we want to live. However, happiness is not a destination, it is the path and a relative term that controls our outlook towards life.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Mehezabin Dordi, a clinical psychologist at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, shared, “Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment. Our levels of happiness are strongly related to one’s overall wellbeing and sense pf purpose. This positive attitude translates to a variety of effects on a person’s health both physically and mentally, including positive effects on an individual’s health – such as increasing optimism, vitality, improvement in problem solving abilities, having lesser physical ailments ie happiness lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease, lowers your blood pressure, enables better sleep, improves your diet, allows you to maintain a normal body weight through regular exercise and reduces stress. It also aids in building resilience, improves attention and cognitive functions.”
Revealing why some people find it harder to be happier than others, Dr Jalpa Bhuta, Consultant Psychiatrist at Global Hospital in Parel Mumbai explained, “We all want to be happy but happiness often comes from within. Learn how to tame negative thoughts and approach every day with optimism but we sometimes think of happiness as a thing that happens to us, something we have no control over. It’s easy to link the idea of happiness with the situation, we’re in but that’s not really how happiness works.”
Sharing his own expertise, Dr Sahir Jamati, consultant psychologist and psychotherapist, HOD-Department of Psychology at Mumbai’s Masina Hospital, revealed, “We all know that mental health is complex and is multifaceted and there can be various factors that may affect an individual’s mental wellbeing. Happiness is also one of the important aspects of positive psychology and wellbeing. Although happiness is a subjective emotional component but still this holds true that overall happiness has a positive association with various mental instabilities.”
Pointing to a research that shows just a small portion of happiness (only about 10%) depends on a person’s situation, Dr Jalpa Bhuta advised, “Don’t try to stop negative thoughts. Telling yourself “I have to stop thinking about this,” only makes you think about it more. Instead, own your worries. When you are in a negative cycle, acknowledge it. “I’m worried about money.” “I’m obsessing about problems at work.” Treat yourself like a friend. When you are feeling negative about yourself, ask yourself what advice would you give to a friend who was down on herself. Now try to apply that advice to you.”
Highlighting tips to bear in mind to help stay happy in general and control our mood fluctuations, clinical psychologist Mehezabin Dordi said, “The recent years of lockdown and restrictions have enabled us to appreciate many things in life that you previously took for granted such as human interaction, travel, freedom that we earlier took for granted.It is important to learn the lesson of not getting too bogged down by lows and be resilient during taxing times.It is important to understand that engaging in certain “intentional activities” also aid in enhancing happiness.”
She added, “Simple habits of eating good food, getting adequate rest, exercising, having a proper routine, staying connected with friends and loved ones go a long way in keeping happy and controlling mood fluctuations. Activities like Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, journaling and having gratitude, inculcate stability of the mind, keeping you positive and enable you to navigate through with a happier and calmer state of mind. It definitely uplifts the spirit and helps make better decisions keeping you active and alert at all times.”
Asserting that it is possible to make happiness a choice, Dr Sahir Jamati listed the secret to it:
1. During the face of setbacks, some people seem to fall apart, while some find ways to move forward and continue to get things work. As per an individual’s perception, bad things happen to everyone. Almost every one face problems related to relationship, sickness, death, profession, finances, etc. One practical way to move on in life and remain happy is to develop resilience. By saying to develop resilience, I don’t mean to ignore the negative feelings that come along with tough times, but to adapt to unfortunate events and setbacks and bounce back. Developing resilience won’t make your problems go away, but it would help you to see past them.
2. Acknowledge and appreciate good things happened in your life instead of thinking of all the negative things you’re dealing with currently. Not only materialistic things or tangible things should we be grateful for but also we should have gratitude for intangible things like having a loving partner or having great friends, being blessed with children, etc.
3. Changing the perspective to look at a difficult situation and finding a positive outcome or an opportunity as an end result. learning from what went wrong, what made things tough and finding a potentially positive way that can help you to improve your situation can help you reduce sadness.
4. By remembering the past difficult times when you were able to sail through well will give you courage to get better. Remember you have got through hard times before and you can do it again. This way you can get through and you’ll become stronger because of this.
5. Surround yourself with positive and fun loving people who can lift you up, instead of being with those who demotivate and instigate fear. This may help you boost your mood and cope up well.
6. Spend some time in doing things which you enjoy to do. Its ok to have a tough time, but continue to have some time to pursue tasks that keeps you happy. You can pursue your hobbies like collecting coins or shells, playing music, drawing, gardening, doing sports, etc.
7. Relax your mind to find some peace by doing meditation, breathing exercises or yoga. This can make you feel calmer and get relaxed.
8. Another simple way to move towards happiness is to simply increase your activity levels, indulge especially in pleasurable activities and succeed in doing realistic and achievable tasks.
People should consider consulting a mental health professional if they are unable to manage stress on their own or if they experience any emotional, cognitive or physical symptoms every day for more than 2 weeks.