1. Surround yourself with juicy strawberries
Imagine a mouldy strawberry in the punnet, very quickly the other strawberries will go bad. This is reflected in human behaviour, negativity and moaning can quickly spread and science calls this a negative downward affective spiral. When we spend time with those that energise us the opposite happens, positivity and happiness spreads. Make a list of the people that energise you, those that when you spend time with them you feel great. Identify and spend more of your time with those people, your juicy strawberries.
2. Look up
A recent study from Derby University and the National Trust showed only 21% of people look at the clouds. Simply looking up at the clouds for a few seconds serves to calm and ground us when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Sky gazing allows the brain to have a micro rest from stressors and lets us daydream. Often creative solutions to tricky issues will become apparent after looking up at the clouds. Even on the busiest days it is possible to spend 10 seconds gazing up, on the way to work in the morning or gaze out of the window between tasks. And it is not just clouds that can improve our wellbeing. The positive effects of connecting with nature on our mood and happiness is well known. Prescribe yourself a daily dose of nature and see what a difference it makes – take a picture of something in nature, smell a flower, buy a bird feeder, listen to the birds singing, get a plant and of course look at the clouds.
George Bernard Shaw said. ‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing‘. Harnessing creativity and spending time in play improves our reserves. Covid brought with it adaptive creativity with the uplifting sounds of neighbours singing from their balconies in Italy and museums and galleries opening their virtual doors. When we play, we are more focused and productive and better able to cope with stress. Ask yourself – what did you used to enjoy doing as a child just for the sake of it and how can you reconnect with that now? This weekend, try doing one of those childhood things – jump in a puddle, get on a swing or trampoline, ride your bike, sing, play hopscotch …I challenge you not to smile! Covid has left us drained and depleted.
4. Channel your inner Superhero
Studies have shown that people who model the behaviours of their favourite superhero in a difficult situation cope better, this is called ‘The Batman effect’. Think of someone you know who copes well with stress, how do they behave, what kind of things do they say, how do others react to them? Imagining ourselves as someone else is a form of ‘self distancing’ from a difficult situation and allows us to be more objective, focused and think with clarity. Next time you are in a stressful situation conjure up an image of the person you admire for their stress coping skills or even your favourite superhero and think ‘ what would they do right now’?
5. Write your legacy
What 3 things do you want to be remembered for? Being a great parent, a great friend, kind, caring, making a difference? Whatever your 3 are, these are the things that we value most and living to these values allows us to feel a sense of purpose and be fulfilled.
If you were to die tomorrow could people really say you are all of those 3 things? Are you living your life right now in a way that fits with your legacy? If not – what needs to change? Remember your legacy 3 and help that guide you each day in your decisions, actions and thoughts.
Written by Dr Helen Garr
If you want to hear more from Dr Helen Garr she will be speaking at our next event The SHE Show North East, 26th April 2022, St James’ Park, Newcastle United Football Club.
Dr Helen Garr, The Wellbeing GP
Dr Helen Garr, AKA the Wellbeing GP, is an experienced GP, expert and leader in the field of mental health and wellbeing. Helen is known for her energetic and interactive talks that leave her audience with practical takeaway tools to improve their health and wellbeing. She expertly delivers the science, evidence and solutions behind improving our mental health and wellbeing both at home and at work in a way that is fun, relatable and accessible to staff of all levels. Helen is currently Medical Director Designate of NHS Practitioner Health – the largest health care professional mental health treatment service of its kind in the world, former Public Health England Clinical Champion for physical activity and has a background in psychology and coaching.
Please note, the views expressed by the original article author are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent those of Washingtondowling Associates Ltd or The SHE Show and therefore we take no responsibility for the content or accuracy of this post.