Happiness makes your brain work better, Harvard researcher Shawn Achor once told Inc.com. Everyone, especially hard-pressed business owners, could definitely use our brains to be at their sharpest in the midst of the current crisis. But let's be honest, now isn't the easiest time to stay positive.
For some folks with mental health issues, the challenges go way beyond cabin fever and everyday anxiety. But for those of us lucky enough to be dealing with garden-variety grumpiness, science has good news. Simple interventions that are doable for nearly everyone can have a profound effect on your mood. Psychology writer Nick Wignall brilliantly summed them up on Medium as "the 3Ms."
Don't underestimate the power of these simple steps to help you regain control of your mood, so you can weather the current craziness with a little more good cheer and a little clearer mind.
It's not just woo-woo yoga teachers and masochistic marathon runners who insist humans are hard-wired to move. Science agrees. "Exercise does the same kind of thing that many of our medicines do. A bout of exercise is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin," Harvard researcher John Ratey has explained. Who couldn't use a little more happiness and concentration at the moment?
Exercise is admittedly harder when you're stuck at home. But not impossible. Jogging is the perfect social distancing activity, Apple has a whole list of apps that can help you keep active indoors, or just go old school with push-ups and jumping jacks.
In uncertain times, it's good to remind yourself of all the things you can control and accomplish. One of the best ways to do that is to make something with your own two hands. It doesn't have to be fancy. It doesn't even have to be good.
"Look for small opportunities to make something, fix something, or simply clean something up. Why not bake some cookies, or declutter your desk, or trim the roses? Working with your hands can be profoundly pleasurable, and there's satisfaction in seeing the results of your labor in such a tangible way," Wignall writes.
In a time of social distancing you can't physically meet your friends, but that doesn't mean you can't stay connected. There are virtual book clubs, Netflix and chill nights, and happy hours going on all over the world right now. Join them. Science shows friends are just about the most powerful stress buster we have.