Dealing with extra mental load during the coronavirus season? This is for you!
With celebrations worldwide being called off or curtailed during Covid-19, this Mother’s Day will be a low-key affair for many of us.
Here at KSP, we’d like to wish all mothers a happy and restful Mother’s Day, with a special message:
Moms, if you’ve been feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the demands of home and work, please know that your feelings are valid. Do give yourself the priceless gift of self-care, so that you can recharge for the next stretch ahead. We’ve compiled a list of resources to help you boost your happiness levels, especially during these uniquely challenging times. Read on to take these life-changing steps!
Work towards happiness. Over two million people have signed up for Yale professor Laurie Santos’s free happiness course on Coursera; more than half a million sign-ups have occurred during the global lockdown, proving that many of us are in search of ways to lead a more positive existence during this time. Taking Santos’s course is the perfect self-care activity to indulge in if you have as little as 10 or 20 minutes a day to spare — you can go through the course at your own pace, perhaps after work is done for the day, and the kids have gone to bed.
Alternatively, read a crash course version of Santos’s insights, as food for thought. Or watch her 30-minute chat session, where she fields questions about living well during Covid-19.
To heed Santos’s advice, you can begin by developing the habits that happy people are thought to share: prioritising time with loved ones, practising gratitude and optimism, and staying physically active. Second, reflect on your relationship with time and money — do you value time more, or money more? (Research suggests that while those who value time may be less affluent, they report higher levels of satisfaction in other areas of life.) Third, identify if any of your current habits could be affecting your well-being, such as not getting ample sleep every night. If your device habits are pushing your bedtimes beyond healthy limits, set a “no devices after X p.m.” rule and find yourself a replacement cue, i.e. something else to pick up when you feel like reaching for your device, such as a book or a journal.
According to research, circumstances have less influence on your happiness than you would expect. Instead, you can “make” your own happiness, by creating positive experiences for yourself and those around you. At home, try playing a new game or having a family dinner in a new spot, as novel activities can help spice up life at home for everyone.
Keep stress-relief strategies handy. There’s no doubt about it, these are stressful times, and you will feel anxious on occasion. On her blog, mother and happiness guru Gretchen Rubin has put together an “emergency kit” for dealing with anxiety. Apart from taking calming breaths, she recommends reframing stressful situations, and even the concept of stress itself. Some stress can be beneficial, and you can view it in a positive light (e.g. being excited to do your best work). Other stresses can result from feeling like you’ve failed in some area, which will require you to exercise self-compassion. As we would tell our kids: mistakes are a part of life, everyone makes them, and they help us to learn and grow.
Rubin has many other suggestions that you may find helpful, and her books — The Happiness Project, Happier At Home, and Better Than Before (available on Libby and Overdrive) — are uplifting reads that are perfect for curling up in bed with. You can also subscribe to her podcast for more happiness musings and advice.
Incorporate “TIME” into your daily routine. Viral content creator Jay Shetty trained as a monk for three years, then decided he had a higher calling — to share the lessons he’d learned “in a more powerful way.” His strategy for living through a global pandemic? Know that while you can’t do much about global uncertainty, you can be certain about what you’ll do in a day to feel better. For best results, follow Shetty’s TIME routine, where you make thankfulness, insight (learning), meditation, and exercise the priorities for each day.
New to meditation? Download the Headspace app for free meditation exercises, or get beginner tips off their website.
Make your home a happier space. This isn’t the time to give your home a complete makeover, but you can do simple things to make your space more inviting and inspiring. At the start of the day, get everyone in the home to make their beds and straighten up their rooms — this may seem like an inconsequential chore, but it’s also been called a “keystone habit,” or a habit that can have a spillover effect into other aspects of your life. (For more on this, read Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, available on Libby and Overdrive.)
If you’re in the mood for a home improvement project, try creating a “pride shrine,” as recommended by happiness author Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones, available on Libby and Overdrive). This would be a dedicated space, such as a table or wall, where you display photos, posters, and anything that helps you to feel proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished.