How to find space for joy in your life, even in difficult times
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, make 2021 the year to focus on what brings you happiness
I live in a small town in the Scottish Borders, and while lockdown is challenging in many ways, I am grateful to be surrounded by beauty.
As someone who craves the great outdoors, this has a big effect on my well-being and ability to cope with the situation.
Finding joy isn’t always about big things
My partner and I moved to the country a few years ago. Although packing your bags and heading to pastures new is not the right approach for everyone, we decided to take a risk and leave the comfort of city life. By doing so, we found our joy.
2020 was extremely difficult for everyone, and although it’s the start of a new year, most of you are likely feeling battered and bruised from the past 12 months and current surge in infections. And while we are still engulfed in a pandemic, planning ahead seems impossible.
But would paying some attention to what brings you joy do any harm?
It’s not just the big things in life, such as a promotion, house move or a new baby. As amazing as these events are, pockets of joy can be found in the minutiae of everyday life if you look hard enough, even when you are working a 12-hour shift.
How you can bring joy into your life
What makes you smile?
And I mean really smile – what lights up your senses? How often do you do this? For me, it's wild open spaces, so I go looking for them on my daily walks with my dogs. What can you do to make yourself smile every day?
What is your proudest moment as a nurse?
What was the situation? How did you feel at the time – and now, reflecting back? Why do you think this was so important to you? Even now, years from when I last wore my uniform, there are a few patients that always make me smile when I think of them. Caring for these people was my ‘why’.
What makes holidays special for you?
Time off without responsibilities? Seeing new places? What small things can you do to recreate these feelings throughout your working week? I like going on adventures, so I try and have regular mini adventures.
What was your biggest achievement in 2020?
You may not have met carefully prescribed goals set this time last year, but you made it through the toughest of times. It’s easy to focus only on what went wrong, but slow down for a minute and pay attention to what went well. One of my positives from 2020 was the amount of heartfelt conversation I had – when someone asked, ‘how are you?’ I actually felt they were listening.
What have you learned?
With the roll-out of the coronavirus vaccine, life will hopefully change once again. Be curious – what have you learned so far from the pandemic that you want to keep with you? Which parts of pre-COVID life are you happy to let go of?
Make space for your passions
Many years ago, I experienced severe depression. Anyone who has been there will know how hard it is to see anything positive, let alone joyful.
But somehow, I figured out two things that brought some relief to how I was feeling – the smell of fresh coffee and a particular view in a local park.
Once I realised this, I tried my best to experience joy – even in a small way – every day.
‘Pockets of joy can be found in the minutiae of everyday life if you look hard enough, even when you are working a 12-hour shift’
While caring for others and trying to get through an endless to-do list, making space for your passions can be hard.
But no matter how busy you are, try and find time for the things that bring you joy. And if the situation seems bleak, remember this too will pass.
Last year was undoubtedly a dark one, but despite the fear, exhaustion, pain and loneliness that so many of us felt, we carried on. Now the spring bulbs are growing and we will hopefully see light again soon.