Lack of community is a HUGE issue in our times. We have to make an effort to connect with others to alleviate the epidemic of loneliness. Here are a couple of ways to get to know others in your neighbourhood (can start a book club or walking club or anything else – just post on NextDoor!) or others in your city based on interests (Meetup). Also, the old-fashioned ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ with a knock on a door with cookies, or arranging a b-b-q (distanced outside during COVID) can be a great way of getting to know neighbours. If there are musicians, can start a jam session! Starting or joining a community garden can be fun too.
Most anti-depressant drugs stimulate the production of serotonin chemically, which helps alleviate depression. Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurochemical that has a calming, mood regulating, and anti-anxiety effect … and it’s regarded as a “feel good” substance because it serves as a pathway for pleasure in the brain.
Research has shown that those who routinely engage in acts of kindness, such as volunteers, experience alleviation of stress, chronic pain, and even insomnia.
One of the most fascinating research findings to come out is that whenever a simple act of kindness is extended by a human being towards another, it results in a significant improvement in the functioning of the immune system and increased production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness as well as in the person extending the kindness. This is why it always feels good to help others!
What’s even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness also experience a similar strengthening of the immune system and increased production of serotonin! Kindness is a win-win-win scenario which produces beneficial effects in the giver, the recipient and the observer. This is why it feels good to even watch acts of kindness!
Unsung Hero (3 mins) / A Simple Act Of Kindness Makes An Endless Ripple (3 mins) / Acts of Kindness Caught on Camera (3 mins) / Kids decide between helping the Homeless or Ice Cream (2 mins) / Three students surprise a homeless guy (4 mins) / Paying It Forward (4 mins) — ideas for acts of kindness!
We can all use a dose on inspiration from time to time. Sometimes we can face a huge challenge and it helps to get a reminder to keep going. Sometimes we focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have and for a reminder of what’s important, Nick Vujicic’s story is incredibly inspirational. As far as positivity…well there’s great power in that! Below are the videos that I hope inspire you!
Keep going….one step at a time (3 mins) / Nick Vujicic’s Story (4 mins) / The Power of Positivity (3 mins) / 5 Lessons From Mr Rogers That Every Adult Should Know (3 mins) & The Best of Mr. Rogers (10 mins)
It is incredibly important that we have a sense of purpose in our lives. We need to feel we are making a difference and that our lives matter. Without a feeling of mattering, our mental health takes a huge hit. There are needs all around us so no shortage of issues to find something that lights you up. Think of your interests, skills, experiences, and how they can be used to better the world. Here are some ideas that might interest you, or spark an idea!
Knit-a-Square for South African orphans / Alleviate loneliness in elders (contact your nearest seniors’ center to be a phone volunteer) / Letters Against Isolation / Virtual volunteering opportunities
Laughter really can be the best medicine in many ways. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood (there is a release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals), reduces pain, lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after!
As children, we used to laugh hundreds of times a day, but as adults it is so infrequent that we need to seek out opportunities that provide humour.
Anderson Cooper Breaks Into Uncontrollable Fit of Laughter (3 mins) / Canadian Driveway Ice Hysterics (2 mins) / Walkin’ in the Wind (1.5 mins) / Grandma Hilariously Tries to Work Amazon Alexa (4 mins) / Dog Steals Owner’s Dentures (< 1 min) / Jackapoo Tries On Dentures (1 min) / Babies Laughing Video Compilation (3 mins) / Morning Show Hosts Lose It (1.5 mins)
Music and Dance
Music and dance can lift our spirits, bring us joy, reduce stress, and even reduce pain! Music activates our limbic system, which is responsible for our emotional responses so no wonder it can make us happy, sad, scared, energized, or inspired.
Dancing goes hand-in-hand since we’re listening to music when we dance. It feels great because dopamine, seratonin, and other feel-good chemicals are released throughout our body. When music and dance are combined, new neural connections are made as the two hemispheres of your brain “talk” to each other, thus improving your brain health!
Music and dance can also bring people together, creating a sense of belonginess and connection.
Perth Train Party (3 mins) / Train Passengers Sing Over the Rainbow! (4.5 mins) / Bob Marley Unites in World’s Biggest Sing-Along (4.5 mins) / NYC Subway Dance Party (2 mins) / 30 Happy Songs to Play When You Just Want to Feel Good
Food for Thought
Here are some resources that I think are really worth checking out. Learn about how powerful imagination is and how it can work to your advantage and whether money really can buy happiness. Watch a powerful TED talk that has been viewed by over 30 million people that may change the way you look at stress.
The Scientific Power of Thought (3 mins) / Can Money Buy Happiness? (3 mins) / How to Make Stress Your Friend (14 mins) / A Valuable Lesson for a Happier Life (3 mins) / A Clever Lesson in Self-Worth (1.5 mins)