The desire to feel joy or happiness is common and needed in every human. We are designed to live out lives that have a balanced sense of joy. What happens when we go too long in a state of unhappiness? We can become depressed. Our bodies release different chemicals. Our relationships can be affected, and our mental state can decline. These are just to name a few. But what if I told you that it is possible to experience joy in our lives by being intentional with a few of our behaviors or actions? Would you be willing to try? Everyone could appreciate more smiles and pleasant exchanges, right?
Sometimes experiencing joy can be easier said than done, I realize that. Especially if you have lived years in a state of low to no enjoyment or in depression. I encourage you to keep reading, even if everything within you says there is no hope. There is hope. Ready to learn ways to not only bring joy into your life, but to experience it as you do so?
Steps to take to experience joy.
It seems that there are many self help topics when it comes to our bodies suggests exercise. If you are one who does not care for exercise, I can see where this could be hard. That doesn’t negate the body’s need for it. Physical activity can help reduce other symptoms that often steal joy, such as anxiety or depression. It can help your self-esteem and self-image. It doesn’t have to be gym membership and hours a day exercising. Take a walk every day. Enroll in a class that you think might be fun like yoga or cycling or maybe water aerobics. There are many places that have group classes and it can be fun to have others to exercise with. Play a sport with a friend. The key is daily movement. What physical activity can you see yourself trying?
Did you know that when you smile your body releases a dopamine, which makes us happier? Smiling also helps others to smile. You don’t have to have a reason to smile at someone, just smile. You also don’t have to be happy to smile, just do it. When you feel yourself being a low mood, try it, smile! Will you?
Our food is often times like exercise, it seems to be mentioned everywhere. Again, this is because the food we eat is what fuels our bodies, literally. We need a balanced diet with healthy proteins and fruits and vegetables as the carbohydrates. Sure the processed foods and deep fried goodness tastes good, it just doesn’t offer much to help your body recover from day to day stresses. In fact, it often times increases symptoms of anxiety or depression within us. So, while we do hear a lot about eating a healthy balanced diet, there are tons of information out there explaining why we need to do so? Is junk food a struggle for you? Maybe start with replacing one meal to be healthier and increase from there. Often times, we will grow to crave healthier foods once we begin to eat them. It is just taking that first step.
Get Good Sleep
Creating and maintaining good sleep patterns can be hard. Especially for those who tend to be night owls. The average person needs at least seven hours of sleep per night. Some need more. When we sleep, our bodies are at work restoring and healing the things that are off. It builds our immune system to help fight off sicknesses. When we consistently lose sleep, the outcome is often times a sickness or disorder of some sort. Try tracking your days and sleep hours. What, if anything, did you find needs improvement?
Life certainly has seasons of hard. There are also plenty of good things to see and be grateful for. If you see a pretty flower or an odd shaped tree, appreciate it. If someone smiles at you and that made a difference in you day, be thankful for that. Think of things that may get taken for granted such as your job or your home or clothes to wear and give thanks for those. If you meet a friend for coffee or tea, be thankful for that time. Over time, being grateful can alter our brains perception of quality of life. It’s a beautiful thing.
Sometimes taking a few minutes to close our eyes, breathe deeply, think about something happy, and allow your body and mind the space to regroup, can turn a day around. Even a bathroom break can turn into a few minutes of peace for your mind. With so many opportunities to be online, social media, texting, chatting etc.. we have to be intentional about also creating quiet, being still.
What If I Still Struggle?
Finding ways to bring joy into your day can be rewarding. Over time, you may realize that your days aren’t as heavy and your thoughts have moments of joy. Being intentional about seeking joy can change your perspective about things you find joy in. Taking the steps to experience joy can be hard for some. If you have tried to incorporate joy in your life, but find that you remain in seasons of struggling with enjoying life, you are not alone. Upstate Restorative Counseling has a team of therapists waiting to hear you and your story and develop steps that could help you experience more joy.