We’re conditioned to think that only when we’re able to check off countless impressive personal and professional successes could we possibly find happiness.
Sadly, though, quite the opposite is true. Chasing after these illusive monumental accomplishments only produces stress. Happiness eludes us. And worry about failing turns into anxiety, and even depression.
The problem lies in our focus.
We’re always looking toward the next day, the next week, the next year. Striving for the big break. Chasing after happiness. And hoping that someday our ship will come in.
But what if happiness is already part of your life? What if it’s all around you? And you just didn’t see it because you haven’t been present—here, in this very moment.
How the Little Joys of Life Can Help Your Conquer Stress and Anxiety
There are countless opportunities each day to find the little joys in life. The only thing it requires is being present and looking for them.
Here are some ideas:
Kick off each new day with something positive to beat anxiety
Most of us have personal experience with how starting our day affects the rest of it. When we wake up with a negative, agitated mood, often, the remainder of the day follows along in the same pattern. Unless something or someone snaps us out of it.
So, starting each day off with a positive attitude goes a long way. One of the easiest ways to bring a little joy into your life and benefit your well-being right from the start is to begin the morning with a smile or even a positive affirmation. Not only does it wonders for your body chemistry to make you feel good, but it’s also contagious. And it will set the tone to help you make the rest of the day more productive and happy.
Show kindness to yourself and others to lessen stress
Not all of us have the means and the time to pamper ourselves by going on a big vacation—perhaps to an exotic land or a paradise beach location. But we can all aim to seek out little joys by treating ourselves kindly.
What does that include? You may want to start by showing your body and mind some love. A little self care goes a long way. Eat healthy and nutritious foods, keep yourself hydrated, get enough restful sleep, and exercise regularly. Also, don’t stress yourself out with all the tasks you need to do, but rather give yourself a break and some breathing time—a 10-minute coffee break, a half-hour bubble bath, or kicking your feet up while listening to your favorite song.
And then extend that same consideration to other people in your life—be that your spouse, children, parents, friends, co-workers, or even a complete stranger! Small acts of kindness and empathy toward others lead to big rewards of happiness and satisfaction for yourself.
Have fun, play, and enjoy your environment to reduce anxiety & stress
That being said (the previous point), why not take it a little further with acts of kindness and relating to others? Social connections are well known to boost happiness and overall well-being. Not only does happiness rub off, but it also flourishes more freely when we are in a group.
Think about little ways you could have fun every day. Spending time with family or friends watching a funny movie or playing a silly game. It’d be impossible not to laugh! And once the laughter starts, it’ll be hard not to be affected by it and join in. Aside from giving you pleasure, laughing also helps your creativity to flow more freely.
Plus, play often includes enjoying your environment. For example, getting outside for a walk, a bike ride, or a friendly game of catch, etc., helps to not only make your body healthier but your outlook as well.
Reflect on every little good thing with gratitude
Life is an accumulation of many small aspects. However difficult life may get, everyone has something they can be grateful for—no matter how small. Reflecting on these little moments of gratitude with thankfulness helps us to be centered and present. The great thing is, we can do it before we rise each day, after we’ve gone to bed, or anytime in between.
So, close your eyes for a moment and think about that one good thing. Perhaps you were able to get up this morning with fewer aches and pains, you savored your favorite meal, your baby just took their first step, you received a sweet text from one of your loved ones, you enjoyed a cool dip in a lake on a hot day, your boss thanked you for helping out with a work task, you found the first spring flowers coming out in your garden… the list is endless!
When you allow yourself to be joyful and grateful over the things you may often take for granted, a permanent feeling of happiness is inevitable.
Practice being mindful every day to ward off anxiety
In many people’s minds mindfulness is often connected to mediation and breathing exercises. While that may be true to some extent, practicing mindfulness also includes opening our hearts to positive and loving emotions. Plus, being mindful every day simply means to enjoy the moment, fully live it, and indulge in it.
Worrying about the past or future is a waste of time and depressing. But when you learn to focus on living with presence, experiencing each moment of life with full awareness, you can beat stress and anxiety. And you come alive!
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Granted, life can be stressful, and many situations can cause us anxiety. Sometimes we even create pressures and stress for ourselves and just don’t have the right techniques for daily stress management. But by proactively being present, we can learn to find the little joys of life and conquer the negative with the positive.
If you’re having trouble seeing those small joys in life and feel like you could use some professional help to counter anxiety and stress in your unique situation, please reach out for support. You’re not alone. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy to help with stress and anxiety. Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here for you.