3 simple ways to stay sane and happy as the world spins out of control
how to not lose your marbles
It's a well known fact that the world is in a bit of a mess right now.
We started the year afresh with a herd of loonies breaking into the US' capitol building, rumours of Kanye having an affair with Jeffree Star, TikTokkers deciding to go to the Bahamas during a world wide pandemic...
The chaos that ensues on a daily basis is enough to make anyone's head spin. It makes you ask yourself, 'when is this all going to stop?'
Confusion, anguish and frustration are not uncommon feelings recently, but don't fret, these feelings are shared by many around the globe.
Here I share a few ways you can help save your sanity, and regain a sense of meaning and control, so you keep your marbles intact as the world is seemingly losing its own.
Find yourself your new favourite hobby
With most of us stuck indoors, it has become much harder to do the things we would usually enjoy; and not engaging in anything fun or active has become the general norm.
I started university this year, and with all my lectures online, I have spent 99% of my time sat on my butt looking at a laptop screen in hopelessness. Before I tried these methods, the highlight of my day was eating dinner.
I realised after a month or so of just work-eat-sleep-repeat that this was not good for me, I couldn't handle it anymore. Although I'm a student, and many like nurses and doctors have incredible amounts of pressure on them through their long hours and risks within their job, my motivation was going down the drain, I was weary all the time, my anxiety went through the roof and I began to dread the days ahead of me.
Well not only is not taking time to relax and enjoy something not as fun, but this routine of engaging in only necessary daily tasks that don't provide us with any sense of happiness or achievement could have an extremely detrimental effect on your and your family's mental and physical health.
A really effective way to combat this is finding yourself a hobby. Something during your day that you actually enjoy doing, that relaxes you and makes you happy. When you cant afford to decrease your workload, it is a great alternative to help you along. It can be alone, it can be with your kids, with your SO, with your chameleon, just something to make your day a little bit easier.
I hear ya, you dont have time. I appreciate people have busy lives, going here there and everywhere and not being able to stop. But that is why this is so important.
If there is nothing in your day that you enjoy doing, then you need to change something. And you need to make time, some small amount of time, for yourself. I'm sure there is something you could cut down on, like looking at the news on your phone, where you could replace that time with something you like to do.
Especially in the busiest lives, one of your highest priorities should be your mental health, general health, happiness, and that of those around you. Once you start to make this a higher priority, it will give you a world of peace, making you and those around you happier as a result.
Hobbies also give you a sense of control, fulfilment and purpose. As you begin a new hobby, and get in a habit of doing it when you feel like it, you gain a sense of control. You choose to complete this task, and you enjoy doing it. In a world where lots goes on around us that we can't control, a hobby is a great way to regain some of that control.
And when you achieve a goal within that hobby, finishing a piece of art you were working on, completing a book series, running 5k, knitting that scarf for your grandma (oh how the tables have turned), you feel a sense of accomplishment. You did that cool thing! How awesome of you.
A sense of purpose is a difficult one. Human nature causes us to consistently search for answers, what is the purpose of life? of me? Existentialistic ideas in philosophy answer that there is no 'general purpose' of life, you give your life your own meaning. I think that is so freeing, thinking you dont have to just keep doing the same old thing, going to work, going to bed, every day to fulfil your purpose; make your own purpose. Make one of the meanings, the purposes, to get a new hobby, try at it, and most of all: enjoy it.
A hobby is a hobby because it is enjoyable. So make sure you find something you enjoy.
Dont believe me? Science backs it up:
Having a creative hobby is associated with positive work-related traits, like creativity on projects and a better attitude on the job. There is also much lesser chances of burnout.
According to research by Matthew Zawadzki, a health psychologist at the University of California, Merced, leisure activity can provide immediate stress relief, which has been shown to have numerous health and psychological benefits, like improved focus, happiness and a longer life. (The research I have linked here is well worth a read.)
Lastly, physical hobbies have clear physiological benefits because they increase both your heart rate and brain function. Other benefits include lower blood pressure, weight loss, building muscle, strengthening bones, and an overall increase in energy.
So as you can see here, just doing something in your day, in your week, that is enjoyable for you will have so many long-lasting benefits for not only you, but for your family if you use this time together, or just because it makes you smile at them a little more when you get home.
Another piece of advice I would give you is that it's not as hard as you may think. I've procrastinated with trying a new thing before thinking it isn't for me, and it turned out I was actually pretty good at it and it was a lot of fun once I got the hang of it.
If you dont try, you'll never know.
Stay somewhat organised.
At the end of the day, being organized is about having more time for yourself, and enabling you to live a more balanced life
- Eva Selhub, M.D.
I suck at organisation.
Whether its keeping my bedroom and workspace consistently tidy, or trying to schedule my day, I am rubbish at it.
But I cant stand it.
When my place is a mess, it's alright for a few days, easy to ignore. Until it starts to irritate me having to step over things to get to the other side of the room. Not being able to find something. Not having a clue what to do that day so I spend the whole day rolling around feeling unproductive and hopeless.
I know, 100%, that if I was even a little more organised, I would be calmer and happier.
It's a strange concept but I do believe it is true that if you have a messy place you will have a messy mind.
If it wasnt there, it would save you a lot of time and stress you don't recognise you have in your day, making it calmer and more enjoyable.
It's no wonder that people coming home from a busy work day will not have the natural decline in cortisol (the stress hormone) that they need to relax when their house is filled with to-do lists and unwashed clothes and piles of paperwork. This disorganisation can seep into your work life too as many are working from home, meaning both their work mess and their home mess is all in one place,
According to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who described their homes as "cluttered" or full of "unfinished projects" were more depressed, fatigued, and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who felt their homes were "restful" and "restorative."
Taking the time to clear away the dishes, tackle the piles of laundry and get through all of those papers will not just clear the physical space, but clear your mental space too, making you happier and feeling more relaxed. Now who wants a bubble bath?
Further, people who worked in a neat and tidy space for 10 minutes were twice as likely to choose an apple over a chocolate bar than those who worked in a messy office for the same amount of time, found a study in the journal Psychological Science. Although this seems like a coincidental and small result, it makes sense in further examples;
"Clutter is stressful for the brain, so you're more likely to resort to coping mechanisms such as choosing comfort foods or overeating than if you spend time in neater surroundings," Dr. Selhub says.
Disorganisation can also become a problem within your relationships.
"For couples, clutter can create tension and conflict, and the time you spend looking for missing items can also take away from time you could be spending together."
This is especially important with more and more people working from home, those boundaries of 'work life' and 'home life' become intertwined and you share these with your partner. Having a messy home could cause more frustration which is likely to then have a negative effect on those around you.
Lastly clutter is distracting, and research confirms that it can actually affect your ability to focus: looking at too many things at once overloads your visual cortex and interferes with your brain's ability to process information, the Journal of Neuroscience reports.
With productivity being a common struggle in the current times (I plan to write an article on this in the future), it is ever more important to increase your productivity as much as possible when you are feeling unmotivated.
Seeing all the benefits that a little more organisation can give you, it is well worth the effort.
Bubble bath anyone?
Talk to someone.
We arent allowed to go out and see people right now.
This can be incredibly hard, especially if you live by yourself.
We underestimate the amount we rely on socialising with others to keep us happy and motivated throughout the day; so it's understandable that without it we feel a little lonely and down and unusual.
This tip is a simple one.
You are not alone.
It's easy in the current climate especially to feel isolated and as if you are combatting all of the world's issues by yourself. Despite having spent all of the lockdowns with my boyfriend, I have still had moments like this.
Find someone to talk to.
You dont even have to talk about everything that's going on in the world now, just anything, a cute dog you saw on instagram today.
We take advantage of the small but significant conversations we have during our day, and a chat with your SO, your child, your mum, over the phone with your friend, grandad, or just a chat with your dog can really make a difference.
If you really really dont want to chat, write. It may be difficult at first, but once you get into the flow of it you can start to just blurt out whatever you feel and get it all out.
Trust me, it works.
Millions of people are feeling a little lost right now, just like you.
But hopefully, with these tips, you can start to make your life a little easier, and maintain your sanity and happiness within a world that is a little crazy; staying on your feet while the world turns upside down.