It’s the start of a new year and generally people will be feeling pretty optimistic about the time ahead. Resolutions have been made, goals have been set and a plan of some sort has been established. Perhaps you’re feeling like you can take on the world!
Here are some tips on how to keep your good vibrations up while getting back into the swing of things.
How to stay optimistic throughout the year
Listen to music
“Music, the combiner, nothing more spiritual, nothing more sensuous, a god, yet completely human, advances, prevails, holds highest place; supplying in certain wants and quarters what nothing else could supply.” Walt Whitman.
Plug that speaker in and let the magic happen. The power of music can do wonders on lifting moods and keeping us feeling good. Check out these 52 songs to cheer you up every time.
Listening to tunes that make you want to shake your hips or tap your feet has been found to lift your energy levels. When music sparks something in us or makes us want to bop our head, our brains release dopamine, a chemical that produces positive feelings. In fact, it has been proven by physiologists that playing music benefits your brain more than any other activity.
Music can also be very therapeutic and has been used as a substitute for sleeping tablets, as a motivational device to ‘move’ out of low moods or depression, as a coping mechanism for various problems, and as a way we connect with others.
Top up your optimism by being spontaneous
Marie Lethbridge, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at Mind Health Ltd, says that being spontaneous allows us to be mindful and totally immersed in the activity we’re engaging in, which has been linked to an increase in mental wellbeing and happiness:
“Often we behave in a rigid, planned and fixed way because of anxieties and worries we have … Instead of worrying about the future or ruminating about the past, acting instinctively allows us to engage fully in what we’re doing at the time, and focus our whole attention on this.”
But how do you become spontaneous? We have some ideas to add a little spice to your life by mixing it up:
- Jump off the bus a few stops earlier and wander back home. Remember to stop and smell the flowers.
- Leave a weekend day free to wake up and do whatever you feel like doing.
- Be impulsive once in a while; it keeps things exciting.
- Just say ‘yes’ and don’t over analyse.
Sustain optimism by getting outside
It’s hard to feel stressed while lying in a fluffy patch of grass with a gentle breeze tingling your skin and the sun shining through gaps in the trees. Spending some quality time with nature can be beneficial for anyone who wants to increase their Outdoorphins or Vitamin G (green).
Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, has researched how being outdoors can even make us nicer. “In nature,” he says, “we feel more in touch with who we really are and what we want to do.”
And it makes you happier: a study from the University of Essex in the UK found that 30 minutes of walking in a green scene reduced depression in 71 per cent of participants.
To go about the new year walking on sunshine, you first have to get some!
Did you know that by looking directly into the early morning sunlight you increase your serotonin levels, a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping you feel calm and focused? The key here being “early morning” – please don’t look at the sun when it’s too bright.
Without enough sunlight exposure, a person’s serotonin levels can dip low and cause a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that is triggered by changing seasons.
A little bit of sunlight and exposure to UV-B radiation in the sun’s rays is the best natural source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscles and overall health, including decreasing chances of osteoporosis, and assisting in healing skin conditions.
The daily top-up: get enough sleep
We have all heard these before: “sleep tight”; “beauty sleep”; “well rested”. And for good reason. There are many benefits to getting the perfect night’s sleep for your physical, mental and spiritual self. Not getting enough pillow time can lead to irritable moods and a gloomier outlook on life.
Research studies in healthy people have shown that even one night without sleep causes sleepiness, fatigue, irritability and lack of motivation. Sleep loss will make us feel more upset, angry and sad in response to unpleasant events and make us less able to enjoy and be happy about good things in our life. This increases feelings of negativity and negative reactions when something doesn’t go well or as planned.
Give your passions some love
There were probably many people who made a new year resolution to take up something they have always wanted to do. Passion drives you to push limits (limits which you often create for yourself) and it gives you the opportunity to inspire. Like signing up for karate classes or getting into yoga. We all have things that we love doing.
It’s easy to get caught up in work and responsibilities and not make time to do these things we love doing and after a while we can even forget that good feeling that comes over us when we’re pursuing our passion.
It’s important to find the time to fit the passion in to keep the pessimistic attitude out.