There’s no doubt that we’ve all gone through a lot this past year. A global crisis literally took over our lives at the beginning of 2020, confining us to our homes almost the entire year. This is something we couldn’t have imagined, even in our wildest dreams. In hindsight, it has also taught us a lot of important lessons — of being mindful, living in the moment, and never taking anything for granted.
As we march ahead into the next year, let’s learn a few things that will provide us with contentment and long-lasting joy. Here are 21 things to do in 2021 to make it the best year yet:
You might think of it as a strange suggestion. I mean, is it even possible to wake up without an alarm clock? Well, it is. Practice a routine of sleeping on time and waking up at the same hour every day. That’s how your biorhythm should works, with no alarms to jolt you out of your slumber. Wake up naturally and start your day with a positive mood.
We know life can take over, and it might feel like an ordeal to smile the first thing every morning, but push yourself to do it. Tell yourself it’s going to be a day full of happiness and contentment, and have a wide smile on your face. It might sound silly, but trust us, it will really set the tone for the day ahead!
Do whatever that makes you move — it could be dancing, jumping on the spot, or going for a run with your favourite music playing through your earphones. Make sure you’re incorporating 20 minutes of exercise every single day for your dose of happy hormones.
Haven’t we all felt a sense of happiness when we come out of a nice shower after belting out our favourite song? Oh, and while you are at it, don’t forget to put on your best-scented body wash. Well, it is believed that our favourite aromas have pleasant olfactory memories associated with them that make us feel blissful. Now, that’s a good enough reason to enjoy a warm shower and de-stress!
We are always hustling, and unfortunately, our culture glorifies that. We are never really told to slow down, but guess what? That’s equally important. Practising meditation for about 15 to 20 minutes every day is a healthy practice. In fact, research shows that our brain releases an anti-anxiety chemical called GABA when we practice meditation or yoga. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found there is a 27 per cent increase in GABA levels after an hour of meditation.
Most of us are in such a hurry every morning that we forget to eat breakfast, and end up feeling ‘hangry. Well, how about enjoying a nourishing meal packed with your favourite foods every morning? It will help you look forward to something, and at the same time, give you a boost of energy.
With dwindling attention spans these days, most people find reading ‘very boring’. It really isn’t, though! Get a book from your
favourite genre, slip into the quilt, and sip on some hot chocolate as you immerse yourself in a different world.
We function on auto-pilot mode and perform tasks mechanically, often juggling several things at a time. Well, the key is to focus on one task at a time. Multitasking actually affects your focus and causes stress.
Taking an afternoon nap can be extremely helpful in boosting your mood. At the same time, it ensures “improved alertness and performance without interfering with your night-time sleep.” Research also shows that when you do not take a nap in the day, you become sensitive to negative emotions.
How about catching up with a few friends over a nice, warm conversation? There’s nothing like venting out or feeling nostalgic when you share memories. It’s a great feeling and makes you feel so comfy. According to a study published by the British Medical Journal in December 2008 by Harvard University, happy friends increase our happiness by 15.3 per cent!
We know 2020 has been hard because we haven’t been able to meet so many of our friends in person! But, in the coming year, how about taking precautions and stepping out to see a friend or two in the neighbourhood? There’s also a study by Fowler and Christakis that suggests that a happy friend who lives within half a kilometre of your house, makes you 42 per cent more likely to be happy too.
There’s no denying that it is fun to spend money on buying that latest gadget or that outfit you’ve been eyeing for a long time. But, the amount of satisfaction you get when spending on experiences is completely different. You could also take friends out for a treat. In fact, research shows that spending money on making someone else happy amplifies the feeling of satisfaction.
This is the best thing to happen to humans! When you hug a person, your body releases the cuddle chemical, oxytocin. That’s why you end up feeling happy! It is a hormone that is linked to social bonding, fostering trust and loyalty. Moreover, a hug also lowers your blood pressure and helps you release anxiety. So, hug away to glory.
We understand life is tough, and there’s a lot that needs to be juggled during the day. But, how about giving yourself some time at night, maybe during dinner? Spend an hour by yourself, or enjoy the meal with your family as you share the stories of the day. It won’t just make you feel great, but the effect will also pass on to your family.
Write about the best things that have happened to you during the course of the day in a journal. It will train your mind to find positivity on tough days.
A good 7 to 8 hours of sleep is essential for your contentment. When you don’t sleep enough, your hippocampus (the seat of pleasant and neutral memories in your brain) doesn’t function properly. As a result, your sleep-deprived brain tends to recall fewer positive memories and a higher number of negative memories.
Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning when you wake up. In fact, keep drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day. Research says that those who drink “more than enough” water consider themselves very happy, as compared to those who don’t. That’s because even a mere 1.5 per cent loss of body fluid can cause fatigue, anxiety, headaches and an unwillingness to take up challenging tasks.
2020 has opened up several avenues to brush up on your skills and gain knowledge, that too without spending a penny. Take free online courses on various websites and you’ll feel so empowered. In turn, you are more likely to feel content.
Volunteering your time is a great way to help others and feel content at the same time. Whether it’s an old age home or an animal shelter, there are many places that could benefit from a helping hand.
One of the new activities to try out in 2021 could be gardening. Scientists have discovered that the mycobacterium found in soil can improve brain function while boosting moods. The mycobacterium vaccae found in the soil increases serotonin produced in the brain. So, by getting your hands dirty, you’ll actually feel happy!
This is something that will relax you and make you feel happy! Have fun with colours — you don’t have to create a piece of art, it is all about having a good time.
So, ladies, try out these 21 things and make 2021 a year full of positivity!