You probably know happiness when you feel it. As a nurse, you may feel those positive emotions that come with a deeper purpose when an acutely ill patient turns the corner toward better outcomes or a patient living with cancer finds out they are in remission. You also feel happiness in everyday life when you reach goals, spend time with loved ones, or enjoy a nice dinner with friends. However, happiness isn’t something that comes easy for everyone.
According to the World Happiness Report, the United States ranks nineteenth in the most satisfied countries in the world, with Finland, Denmark, and Iceland ranking in the top five. American adults have been experiencing a decrease in happiness since 2000 and reporting more thoughts of suicide, depression, and acts of self-harm since 2010.
These statistics are scary. Nurses can experience high levels of stress-related to work environments, short-staffing, and the emotional aspects of working with ill and injured individuals each day. Combine your work with the statistics about happiness in the U.S., and you can see why it’s critical to take your happiness serious and plan out ways to increase your happiness quotient daily. Here are ten ways you can increase your happiness today.
Create Happiness Goals
Ok, you might think this sounds silly, but we live in a country where happiness is dying. So, having a goal to meet up with friends once a week for happy hour or planning a date with your partner is good practice.
Find a Hobby
Finding a hobby can be challenging. If you are looking for a hobby, think about what you loved to do as a child. Did you enjoy painting or crafts? If so, this might be an excellent place to start. If getting started on your own feels like a daunting task, find a class to take that can get you started with the basics.
Use Your Vacation Time
A recent report revealed that a record 768 million vacation days went unused in the U.S. in 2018. This is an increase of 9% from 2017 and adds up to billions of dollars lost in benefits. Dedicated nurses can sometimes feel guilty about taking vacation days and leaving their coworkers short-staffed. However, your vacation time is critical to your health and ability to refuel so that you can continue caring for others.
Nurses are skilled in educating patients on ways to stay healthy. You teach about diet, exercise, and chronic disease management. But how well do you keep you with your own wellness? Make your health your number one priority. Get plenty of sleep each night, eat a well-balanced diet, and get at least 30-minutes of activity daily.
Each of us has many blessings in life. Expressing our gratitude can boost your mood and remind you of reasons to be thankful. Try telling the most important people in your life how you feel about them. Or, keep a gratitude journal to jot down two to three things you are thankful for each day.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Whether you need a little assistance with an admission or a patient who needs a PRN medication, asking for help can make your day run a little smoother. You should also ask for help outside of work when you need it too. If you feel that your happiness tank is getting dangerously low and you are struggling with symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts, make an appointment to talk to a counselor or psychologist.
Take a Walk
Getting outside can boost your spirits. Feeling the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair is an excellent way to inject a little bit of happiness in the middle of a busy day. If you’re having a stressful day, take a 15-minute break to get outside and get a little sunshine.
Volunteer Your Time
Nothing can boost your mood quite like giving freely of your time and gifts. Find a charity organization that aligns with your purpose in life and spend some time working with others who may be less fortunate than yourself.
Have a Good Laugh
Did you know that laughing releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical, into your bloodstream? Laughing also relaxes muscles and can relieve built-up tension and stress. So, the next time you are looking for ways to boost your happiness, catch a comedy show, hang with your bestie who knows just how to make you laugh, or play a fun game with your family.
Life is busy. Whether you’ve received your fourth admission for the day or you’re trying to balance work and family life, taking time to connect to the present is critical to your happiness. The good news about mindfulness is that you can practice it pretty much anywhere. Find a quiet place like the breakroom at work or your bedroom at home and sit down in a comfortable position. Then, close your eyes and take ten deep breaths. As you breathe in, silently and slowly count to four, then hold your breath for a count of four, followed by a long exhale for a count of six. Do this for at least one cycle, but preferably two to three times.
Happiness is a much-needed emotion. If you don’t plan ways to increase your happiness in your everyday life, you can start feeling sad, depressed, or disconnected from those around you. What other ways do you increase your happiness? Comment below to let us know what activities bring a smile to your face.