Series One: Finding Happiness During Times of Uncertainty and Looking Forward to the Future

We are living in a strange and uncertain time. Under normal circumstances, I would not write a blog post that is this personal.  However, as we all sit at home trying to adjust to this “new” normal, I thought I would take this moment to share some of the things that are helping me get through my day-to-day life in isolation with the hope that it might offer even a few of you, some comfort food for thought.

To start, I have acknowledged and come to terms with the idea that it is okay to not be okay. Experiencing a million different emotions is something I am contending with on a daily basis. If you are feeling anything similar, just know that you are not alone.  Everyone’s situation might be different, but we are ultimately in this together and there are things we can do to help one another along the way.  

One exercise that I have found helpful is to write a list of ten things that currently bring me happiness. These are things that I do for myself, that make my day a little brighter and bring me comfort.  We all have different coping mechanisms, and what makes you happy and brings you joy is unique to you.  These are mine:

Stephanie’s Happiness List While Social Distancing During a Pandemic:

  1. Drinking my morning coffee. I enjoy the flavour and scent of a freshly brewed cup.
  2. Having a short dialogue with my tabby cat, Bacon. He is vocal and will respond with meowing and cooing sounds to my morning interrogation: “How are you, Bacon? Did you enjoy your catnip?”.
  3. Watering my plants; I have many and love seeing them grow.
  4. Taking a long bath.
  5. Reading.  I read every night. I am currently reading  For Small Creatures Such as We, by Sasha Sagan.
  6. Drawing.  I enjoy drawing still life of florals.
  7. Going for a walk in my neighbourhood (while social distancing!).
  8. Lighting candles; the scent and flickering flame is relaxing.
  9. FaceTiming my friends and family.
  10. Yoga.  I have been practicing Kundalini and restorative yoga.
This is “high fashion” Bacon the cat.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao

Now, you try it.  Take a few minutes to find yourself a quiet space in your home, grab a piece of paper, pen and your favourite warm beverage.  Spend the next ten minutes making a list of ten things that bring you happiness; the things that currently bring you joy.  Tape your list up somewhere you will see it every day and make time between your daily tasks for one or more of those things.

One of my many plants.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao
For Small Creatures Such as We, by Sasha Sagan.
Photo credit: Stephanie Valadao

Through all of this and no matter how I’m feeling, I remain hopeful for the future.  Writing down what I plan on doing once the pandemic is over has also helped me stay positive.  This brings me to my second happiness exercise; a future happiness list:

Stephanie’s Future Happiness List:

  1. Hugging my family.
  2. Enjoying a wonderful meal with friends at a new restaurant.
  3. Being back at work and sharing my office space with my co-worker, Ginny.
  4. Swimming at an outdoor public pool.
  5. Watching a live sporting event.
  6. Travelling to South America (destination yet to be determined).
  7. Having a picnic.
  8. Exploring the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.
  9. Seeing a movie.  I like comedies.
  10. Grocery shopping at St. Lawrence Market on a Saturday morning.

Okay, your turn. Take some time to list the ten things that you will look forward to doing once the pandemic is over. Once you are done hang your list somewhere you will see it often and be reminded that you will get to enjoy these experiences in the near future. This is a great list to keep building on when you have new ideas! Refer back to it whenever you feel you need to.

Next week, I will post Series Two where I am going to share tips on how to build a daily routine that works for you.

Until then, stay safe and be kind to yourself.

Take care,

Stephanie

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