I have just delivered a Mental Health Awareness Workshop as part of my day job for staff working with children and young people in ED and the Children’s Wards. What a wonderfully inspiring day as they always are. One of the topics we discuss is looking after your own mental health. I asked everyone present to allocate themselves an hour each day, that is just for them, their hour of happiness.
Does an hour seem too long to spend on yourself? If the answer is yes, then maybe you need than hour more than you think.
We all have 24 hours a day to do with what we want. About 6-8 hours of that is allocated to sleeping. Between 6-12 hours can be for work (but not everyday) the rest we can allocate for other tasks, some of us will have children/dependants so we need time to care for them. The rest of the time we have we can choose what we do. To be honest all the time we have we choose what to do even work and caring for others is a choice at the end of the day. When you add it up there does not seem to be much time left for yourself.
We all have busy lives and we all fill our lives with activities we perceive we need to do, some we enjoy and others we don’t so much. For most of us there is always some aspect of the day we enjoy. That could be having a bath, taking the dog for a walk, playing with our children, bathing our young children, feeding our infant children, watching Emmerdale, the list goes on.
So when we think about it our day is littered with episodes of happiness, only we take them for granted, and often dismiss them. We then concentrate on the less enjoyable parts of our day, like housework, travelling to work, getting the children ready for school, again the list goes on, but it may not be as long as you think.
Do an inventory of your day, list the activities you do on a typical day, be thorough and don’t leave anything out (including toilet breaks). Tick those activities that make you smile, or make you feel contented. Estimate how long each of them takes. Have you got an hour of happiness? If not what do you need to change to increase your happy quota for the day? Do you need to remove some negative activities and replace them with ones that are more fun or engaging? This can be quite a challenge but it is possible if you let your imagination run wild, and allow yourself to be creative.
I have given some examples of what may make you happy and what may make you unhappy, but these are just to illustrate a point. It is important that you generate your happy activities yourself and they are yours to own not someone else’s suggestions.
Actively seeking out happy activities on a daily basis will change your outlook, it will make you more positive and optimistic. It will not prevent you from experiencing negative emotions, and it should not. Negative emotions are also important. However it will help your resilience when managing the challenging parts of you life, by giving you a positive opinion of your future.
If you are able to allocate yourself an hour of just doing an activity that makes you happy, like watching a TV programme, reading a book, or going for a walk. Something you can look forward to, everyday. This done in conjunction with the happy activity inventory is very powerful in changing the way you approach life.
If you want me to work with you to create your happy activity inventory, send me an email or message me via Facebook or Twitter.