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Winter can seem dreary and heavy at the best of times; throw in a pandemic and you may be feeling that moments of joy are few and far between. But even when things feel dark and difficult, there are things we can do to 'ignite' moments of happiness and build our 'joy muscle'. Here are our tried and tested recommendations: 

  1. Focus on fun - think about ways in which you can be playful and silly. Do a silly dance whilst the kettle boils, find your most outrageous piece of clothing and wear it for the day, challenge your family to an impromptu karaoke competition (virtual, or in person). Do anything that will bring some lightness into the day. 
  2. Invest in your energy - joy is intimately connected to your energy levels so take a long, hard look at this and ask: what gives me energy? Is it sleep, exercise, healthy food? Or perhaps it’s reading, writing or painting that gives you a boost? Whatever it is, commit to consistently doing more of it. 
  3. Go outside every day, even when you don’t feel like it - wrap up warm and get into the fresh air. Daylight is so important for our wellbeing and sense of happiness. Breathe in the cold air and let it refresh your body and mind. Notice your surroundings through a lens of gratitude. If you have access to a green space, seek it out and appreciate the beauty of nature. 
  4. De-clutter your life - finding joy is not only about going after the things that make you happy, it’s also about excavating from your life the things that do not, and your belongings is a good place to start. A messy house / office / desk / laptop that is bowing under the weight of ’stuff’ is only going to drag you down. Dedicate a day, a morning or even just an hour to de-cluttering. You’ll feel physically and mentally lighter. 
  5. Turn your culinary focus to making hearty and comforting meals - make stews and soups that feel like the food equivalent of a warm hug. Opt for warming spices such as chilli, garlic and ginger. 
  6. Music IS joy - is there anything more joy-inducing than putting on your favourite playlist and dancing round your kitchen?! This is a great tactic for those ‘emergency situations’ where you need a joy injection with immediate effect. 
  7. Create a joy folder - on your phone or laptop, collect together all the photos that make you smile, screen shots of lovely texts you’ve been sent, YouTube videos that make you laugh. Fill this folder with anything that (to borrow a well-known phrase) sparks joy, and delve into it whenever you need a boost.