Year after year, January asks us to put up with a lot of things: dark clouds, rainy weather, less daylight and an emotional void after the holidays. And as if all that weren’t enough to have to put up with, after the difficult year of 2020 this January feels particularly challenging to all of us.
That’s why, to fit in with our #resolutionfail theme month, in this article, we look at things that can help you to lighten the mood, particularly at the beginning of the year, in order to create a healthy basis for a successful 2021.
So, in this article, you’ll find eight carefully selected tips that should help you concentrate on your well-being and give you a “happiness boost”.
1. Release your inner hiker: find a lake close to you
If you get tunnel vision again, the fog in your head doesn’t want to clear or your chest feels heavy, one thing will definitely help: grab your jacket and get outside.
In a study, researchers found that even short walks have a lasting effect on well-being. A third of the participants in the study, who suffered from depression, felt noticeably better even after short walks. The researchers then encouraged the participants to go for longer walks. This increased the percentage of participants who felt significantly better in terms of mental well-being to a whole 50 percent.
Imagine that – a 50 percent chance that you will feel better. If you’re not already heading out the door, right now, it’s high time that you did.
Regular walks have a number of other positive effects on the mind and body too:
- They strengthen the functioning of your immune system;
- They help you fall asleep and sleep for longer;
- They stimulate the release of happiness hormones;
- They improve your heart and lower blood pressure;
- They decrease the risk of contracting cancer;
- They declare war on stress and fatigue.
By now you’ll have noticed that it’s a good idea to include walks in your daily routine. You could also, for a change, listen to something very special from our Humanoo app while walking, – for example “Journey inside” or “Relaxing through mindfulness”.
2. Do your own experiment: start a project for one week
It’s always fun and cheers you up when you expand your horizons and learn something new.
It doesn’t matter whether it is doing yoga for a week, meditating, not eating animal products, not buying plastic or avoiding sugar – a little challenge will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to grow beyond your current limits.
During this time, try to learn about a topic you’ve chosen and find out more about it – the Internet is full of all kinds of information. Become almost an expert on a specific topic. Watch documentaries on YouTube, read articles on the web, and tell you friends and acquaintances about it.
You’ll see that your new hobby connects you with new people and also enhances your conversations. In this way, you can be an inspiration to others and direct your focus onto something that brings you joy.
3. Drawing is not only for children: it’s never too late to start drawing
People who draw or paint take part in a creative process and challenge their brains in a very special way – a team of researchers from Germany has proven this.
The results show that when we draw or paint, our resistance to stress increases and we are better able to control the negative effects of stress.
The best thing about it is: you don’t need to have any previous experience. Just grab a couple of pencils, buy acrylic paints or pastels and simply get started. It doesn’t have to look pretty either – really!
Think back to how you used to draw as a child. Someone just had to hand us a couple of pencils and we were immediately immersed in the world of colours and shapes.
You don’t need to win a prize or impress anybody. It’s simply about freeing your mind and giving your inner child free rein. Moments of nostalgic happiness guaranteed!
4. Celebrate the past: go through your photo albums
We’re always quick to take photos on our modern smartphones. Unfortunately, most of these photos go to waste in our mobiles or in the cloud and we never look at them again.
Now is the time to refresh all the old memories and to conjure up a smile on the face of a friend or family member. Especially those snapshots from very long ago are bound to make someone blush or howl with laughter.
Sit down, pick out the funniest moments and then arrange to meet up with someone – in person or virtually. By doing this you can talk about times gone by and enjoy your experiences all over again.
If you want to go one step further, you can make an album out of those shots and give it to a good friend or valued family member as a gift. Whether it’s virtual or a real photo album that you can hold in your hand, they’re certain to be very pleased.
5. Energy boost: good mood food for more everyday joy
Almost all of us eat a lot more around Christmas and New Year than we’re used to and definitely more than we should. The festive gluttony extends from too much gingerbread to excesses of raclette. This can also overload our system and rob us of valuable energy, which we then lack in January.
It’s time to give our body foods that make it really happy and provide it with energy.
So, try to have something that your body will thank you for with every meal. This could be, for example:
- Avocado: rich in unsaturated fatty acids, it balances cholesterol levels and it’s full of vitamins;
- Beetroot: full of vitamins (A, C, B) and folic acid, it optimises the oxygen balance in your body with its high iron content;
- Nuts and seeds: they ensure good skin, support your heart and are rich in proteins and fats;
- Broccoli: binds free radicals and so supports your immune system;
- Beans: their high level of vitamin B1 stimulates the metabolism of carbohydrates and thus keeps your energy reserves high;
- Sweet potatoes: contain high-quality fibre and trace elements such as potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese;
- Enough water: if you don’t take in enough liquid, your metabolism slows down. Sufficient water ensures that your body can perform all its functions in a healthy manner.
Would you like to learn more about healthy nutrition? In our Humanoo app you will find a colourful mix of nutrition programmes such as “The right snacks” or “Food & Soul”.
6. Your body needs warmth: particularly in winter
Warmth has a healing effect on your body – especially in the cold winter months. That’s why we feel comforted when we put our faces in the sun or wrap ourselves up in our blankets.
Scientists have even discovered that our physical sensitivity to warmth determines how we interact with other people. According to the research, we behave colder and more reserved towards other people when we are hypothermic – this is known as the so-called “priming effect”.
Therefore, keeping yourself and your body warm will also affect your mind. This works very well with a cup of your favourite tea, delicious hot chocolate or a warm bath. You can top it all off by adding essential oils like rosemary, lavender, or bergamot to your bath.
7. Social media sucks: put your phone down
Scientists from the Universities of New York and Stanford found that abstaining from Facebook has a positive effect on your well-being.
The test subjects were asked to deactivate their account for four weeks. The studies showed that the abstinence had an impact on happiness, satisfaction, depression and anxiety – before, during and after the test.
Research done by the Royal Society of Public Health supports these findings. The research shows that social media users who spend more than two hours a day on it report poorer mental health more often. That may be primarily because they start feeling negative when they see photos of friends on holiday or having pleasant experiences while they themselves are sitting in the office.
These are just two of many studies that see a connection between difficult psychological phases and social media. In any case, they should be enough inspiration to start your own experiment and put your phone down for longer than usual for a few days. Set your own maximum time limits for being on your phone each day.
Many providers even make it possible for you to set time off from your screen time. On the iPhone, you can set downtimes under “Settings” – for example from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. During this time window, the selected apps are simply greyed out so that you can’t just click into the apps automatically.
You can also set an hourly limit for certain apps, for example two hours a day for Instagram, Facebook, etc. After a week, you can see for fun how your screen time has changed and, most importantly, how you feel about it.
8. Tears heal: just let it out
Did you know that we humans are the only species capable of producing tears to express our emotions?
You probably know this from your own experience: a small crying fit can sometimes work wonders – and it’s super healthy as well!
People who suppress crying and hold back tears increase their stress levels and, therefore, play into the hands of high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach problems, depression and anxiety.
When we cry, we flush harmful stress-promoting hormones out of our system. Also, when you cry, your body produces endorphins (happiness hormones) and sends out calming substances that bring you back into balance.
We all know the effect that crying has on us – after a little weep we all feel a little lighter again, your chest is not so tight anymore and your head feels freer.
With that, we’d like to encourage you – when the going gets tough again and you feel the tears coming, welcome them and allow your body to carry out its cleansing function. Whether you’re in company or on your own, next time just let go and see what happens.
So, how are YOU going to outsmart January?
We hope our ideas have inspired you to take particularly good care of yourself in January.
If your heart does get heavy, always remember – you’re not alone. Lots of people in the world – especially in this month and these tough times – are not coping well and we all have our own personal baggage that challenges every one of us in a unique way.
Therefore, especially at the end of winter, it is important to listen to yourself and listen to what your body and soul want right now.
Listen to your needs and don’t feel bad about saying “no”. “No” to things and people that no longer make you happy and have a negative impact on your well-being – Because you’re the one holding the reins.
Hang in there and be good to yourself.
Your Humanoo team