The pursuit of happiness can often lead to unhappiness, possibly because we all have some vague notion that happiness is bound up with material things and money and success. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the most contented and fulfilled people are neither successful nor rich.

Today, more people suffer from depression and anxiety than ever before and there is no simple explanation for these issues. Burn-out from over-work is a common enough reason, but only one of the numerous factors involved.

What can we do to help avoid or control anxiety in today’s challenging world?

Those who know me well know that I am a worrier, but then I guess all mothers are. I always say that I never had a care in the world until I had children. But the worry, of course, is outweighed by the joy.

Below are some of the ways I coped with the stress of work, being sleep-deprived with young children (the elder daughter, mother of my gorgeous grandson Logan, is going through this now) and early married life when we always seemed to be struggling money-wise.  These are still of value in my post-work world.

1 Exercise.

I have always found exercise to be a complete de-stresser. When the children were young, I nearly always managed to get out for a quick walk with a friend in the evening and a lot of ‘venting’ occurred, on both sides. We always came home feeling much calmer, ready to cope with anything.

Later, tennis allowed me to get rid of much of my frustration very economically in an hour or so; unfortunately whacking the little white golf ball does not have quite the same effect!

I still love walking; now that I am retired, I have more time to admire my surroundings and take in the beauty around me. And I am also starting yoga, and of course I will be sharing my experiences with you soon.

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2 Friends

Where would we be without our friends? Imagine having no friends; now that is a frightening thought. However, it is important to value your friends – “Gems may be precious, but friends are priceless”. I am truly blessed with an amazing group of pals, both male and female.

A walk, a telephone call, a coffee, or a chat with a good friend can help you cope with the problems that life throws at all of us. It was John Lennon who wrote “I get by with a little help from my friends”. Work at maintaining friendships; it is certainly easier now with modern technology.

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3 Laughing

I have read that laughing therapy is being used to help alleviate stress and I can understand why. There is nothing better than a good giggle or belly laugh to make you feel better. GG and I laugh a lot at each other and with each other, while my friends and I love a good ‘slagging’. It is important not to take yourself too seriously and to be able to enjoy the fun and laugh at yourself.

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4 Staying Positive

Of course, life throws up curve balls and we all have to deal with sadness and worry. However, some people seem to get more than their fair share and I admire those who can overcome the tragedies in their lives and find joy and even happiness again. I am privileged to know several people who are inspirational in this regard.

Staying optimistic is not always easy. It means finding the positive in negative situations. It means focusing on the good rather than the bad. It means being resilient and not giving up. I always tried to find something positive to focus on when I was very stressed years ago and (together with the other factors already mentioned) it got me through that difficult time.

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5 Grateful Jar

This is new and not my idea, but I read about it and thought I would try it.  The idea is to keep a jar and every night to write down something that made you laugh or giggle or made you feel happy. It could be a chat or a coffee with a friend, a joke that made you laugh, a lovely meal, a TV programme you enjoyed, a walk, a bird singing, a cuddle, a sunset.

Being grateful will help you appreciate what you have and stop negative thoughts.  At the end of the year, you read through them and count your blessings. Or if you need a lift in spirits during the year, have a read.

So what have I in my jar so far this year?  Well, many of them involve my grandson, of course. I love when I walk into a room and he recognises me and smiles and giggles and gets excited.

I enjoyed some gorgeous walks with friends in the crisp January sunshine.

I visited a friend who is suffering from serious anxiety and I was happy to find her much better and more positive than I thought she would be.

I caught up with another friend  whom I see less often since I stopped playing tennis and we solved most of the world’s problems over a bottle of wine. (So much for dry January!).

It is true that “Happiness is a journey not a destination”. Enjoy the journey, count your blessings, live in the moment and you will have a more contented life.

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Thank you for reading and, as always, if you feel like sharing, please do. You can sign up your email address if you’d like to get new posts directly.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to you all xxxxx

 

 

 

 

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