Mary Lu Spagrud // Canadian Mental Health Association – Prince George Branch
In these times of stress and uncertainty, we need to ensure we are taking care of our mental health. An important part of maintaining optimum health is to practice self-care.
Self-care is finding time to care for ourselves and doing things that bring a sense of connection, energy, rejuvenation and a sense of contentment. Many of these feelings can be met by doing something that makes you happy.
Here are seven ways to increase happiness, and to start the process of planning your own beautiful day.
1. Strengthen social connections
Just being around people can make us happier – even smiling or waving at a random stranger can increase our happiness. People with close social connections are less vulnerable to illness, have better responses to stress, and feel a strong sense of connection and support.
2. Increase the variety in what you do
To break up your usual daily routine, try a new activity, explore a new neighborhood or explore a new restaurant or coffee shop. Variety keeps us engaged so switching things up actually re-engages us and helps to make us happier.
3. Savor the moment
Enjoy and appreciate what you do have, rather than lamenting what you don’t have. This can help decrease the stress created when we strive for too much.
In our often busy and hectic lives, we forget to stop and enjoy the little things. Each day, start a habit of savoring a moment and notice the little things that can make your day special: a smile from a friend, the laughter of a child, antics of a pet, the kindness of a stranger or the beauty of nature.
4. Spice up your culinary routine
Coffee on the deck with a treat from a local bakery (while watching the sunrise) sounds like a great idea for breakfast – and, you don’t even need to get out your PJ’s! Is there a restaurant you have always wanted to try and just haven’t gotten around to it? There are many amazing culinary destinations in Prince George that represent many tastes, cultures and food styles. The Chicken Soup at Wasabi or the UN Pizza at Crossroads are both favorites of mine.
5. Incorporate exercise and movement
How about enjoying our green spaces and nature on our doorstep? A walk around Ferguson Lake, the view from Connaught Hill or the trails in Cottonwood Island Park are all some great ways to get some exercise, fresh air and a chance to practice savoring the moment.
6. Expand your activities
If you want to learn to draw or paint, check out Watts Art Academy or one of the many paint nights around PG. Try the drop-in dance lessons at Dance North, or learn to Belly Dance – it may be a much-needed chance to step out of your comfort zone. There are cooking classes to take with All about Coffee and Food, amazing bike trails at Pidherny and Otway to explore, or catch an evening show at the Park Drive In (and for extra fun, go a bit early for a go-cart ride!). The possibilities here in Prince George are endless, whether you go alone or with friends and family.
7. Wind down at the end of your day
As your beautiful day ends, take time to reflect on a moment where you felt at peace and truly relaxed. What did you see, feel, hear? Take yourself back to that feeling of peace. By recalling your moment and your beautiful day, the positive feelings will stay with you until you can plan your next one. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed or stress, take a deep breath and remember your moment.
After you’ve found your moment, take the time to relax and let go of any pent up emotions. Make the change from “to go” mode to the rest and renewal of a good night’s sleep. Indulge in a warm bath or a cup of tea where you can review the day in your mind and relive some the enjoyment you had. A light stretch, reading and reducing screen time will help get you ready for a good night’s sleep – the perfect end to a beautiful day.
So, what does your own beautiful day look like?
Would you sleep in or get up and watch the sunrise? What things would you like to do or where would you want to go? Is there somewhere new you have been wanting to go or a new activity you want to try? Now is the time to start thinking about it and make a plan. Think of this day as a reward you give to yourself. Remember, you don’t need to travel or do something grand – just taking time to explore your own backyard can be a beautiful day.
About the author: Mary Lu Spagrud is the Manager of Education & Projects for Canadian Mental Health Association – Prince George Branch. She presents on a wide variety of topics relating to wellness, mental health and hopes to increase understanding and acceptance of all aspects of mental health and wellness. Mary Lu holds a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Studies from the University of Manitoba and is currently working towards a Master’s degree. She enjoys time spent with her family and friends, camping, enjoying the outdoors and a good glass of BC wine.