Apr 13

Staying Happy During Difficult Times

by Downtown Calgary · 1 comment

Ask people what they want out of life and often the response will be “to be happy”. However, with depression and stress related diseases on the rise, we are left with an indicator that we are not achieving the “live happy” goal.

According to the United Nations, Canada ranks as the 6th happiest country in the world; however, we have a very high rate of suicide compared to the rest of the world. Alberta has the highest rate in the country. Since last June the suicide rate has increased in our province.

It is commonly said money can’t buy happiness but financial stress undeniably can create sadness. A person is 2-3X more likely to develop depression if struggling financially. With Alberta having the highest debt load in the country and a continual decline in the economy, it IS time to “PAY ATTENTION.” Diagnosing and seeking treatment for mental health issues can be a challenge, especially when there is an increased demand for help.

However, the good news is that there are an array of steps people can take to stay well. There are also actions you can take to support others who may be struggling emotionally. During Calgary’s flood of 2013 people gathered and came together to support each other. We are 10X more likely to succeed if properly supported by others. It is time to gather once again, support each other, and pay attention to our mind health along with the mind health of others.

Here are possible actions you can apply in your own experience or for someone else who may benefit from them. These are actions that are not just for difficult times but also for everyday life. Staying healthy and happy is possible. Always keep moving and keep trying different activities. Work to shift negative thoughts by taking positive actions. Once you discover actions that are working for you make them a part of your daily routine.

Here are some suggestions if you are currently struggling with your happiness:

  • Find someone you can talk to. Someone you really connect with, trust, and feel safe around. I’m a big fan of working with a coach. A coach will help you move forward versus keeping you stuck in your current story.
  • It is so important to eat healthy. Avoid sugar and processed food. And take your vitamins.
  • Go for a brisk 45 minute walk, 4-5 times/week. According to research it has been known to have more positive effects on the mind and combat depression better than the strongest anti-depressant.
  • Do 3 gratitude’s per day and record them. Do this for a minimum of 21 days.
  • Meditate
  • Do something creative; paint, sing, dance, play an instrument, create something.
  • Dream; imagine yourself doing something that lights you up.
  • Stick to the facts of what’s happening. Don’t start creating a story around the facts. A wondering mind is a dangerous mind. Stay in the moment.
  • Find your inner flow. Find activities that put you in the moment and allow you to lose track of time.
  • Choose carefully when selecting those you spend time with. Choose to be around people who complete you and inspire you to be better.
  • Get proper sleep.
  • Plan something to look forward to.
  • Volunteer. Give to others. 

Know that you matter and that you’re not alone. Many people struggle mentally; it’s an illness and not your fault. If things get really tough pick up the phone and call “211” to help you find resources; start talking. Reaching out for help is the biggest and most important step toward wellness. Small positive actions will compound into helping you live happy. Take your time, be kind to yourself and know things can get better.

Here are possible actions you could take to support someone who is struggling with finding their happiness:

  • Assess the risk of suicide and/or harm. Call 911 if needed.
  • Listen non-judgmentally.
  • Give reassurance and information. Give the person hope and let them know there are effective treatments.
  • Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help.
  • Let the person know how much you care and let them know they are not alone. Show support.
  • Make healthy meals for the person.
  • Gift books to read. My favorite is Shawn Achor’s, The Happiness Advantage or Dr. Daniel Amen’s, Change Your Brain Change Your Life.
  • Do not give up on the person. If you feel you need support to cope, calling a distress centre is a great place to start (211 is a good number to find resources in your area).
  • Get the person out and about. Sitting still and being isolated will contribute to a deeper depression.
  • Encourage the person to spend lots of time in nature. Our mother earth has a way of healing the soul and the mind.
  • Share positive news and stories with the person.
  • Do a random act of kindness.
  • And put the oxygen mask on yourself. Supporting someone with a mind health issue can drain energy. Be mindful of energy in and energy out. When you’re feeling drained go do something nice for yourself. You matter too!

Science is discovering new breakthrough treatments everyday, with some having no side effects. Don’t ever stop believing in wellness.

This is a guest post from Karen Judge, founder of A Happier Mind.

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