In last week’s blog post, I wrote about how students can often feel overwhelmed and explored a couple of strategies for returning back to a peaceful state. But I found myself wondering if there was more I could do to make my mental state the best it can be.
U of T’s Health and Wellness offers a five-part webinar series addressing what happiness is and how students can foster it through simple changes in their daily routines. Each section includes reflection questions that provide a chance to sit back and think about how the information could be applied to your own life.
First step! Think about what happiness means to you, and make a list of things that make you feel that way. For me, being happy is feeling calm and centred, while also feeling full with a sense of purpose and direction. A few things that help me reach that state: finding amazing new music, finishing a good book, spending time with people important to me, working towards a goal, petting cats, lazy Sundays, reading in cafes and going for walks around the city.
Ever the student, I was interested to see what researchers have to say on how to harness even more happiness. The webinars outlined 10 keys to happier living supported by scientific research. Check the webinars out yourself for the full list, but here are the ones that resonated the most with me:
Being aware and grateful can keep you focused on the present, rather than being stuck in the past or worrying about the future. I make a point to stop and think about what I’m thankful for when I’m walking around campus and lying in bed before I fall asleep. A habit I’ve picked up from my boyfriend is to stop and look at my hand when in the middle of an experience that seems to go by too quickly. It’s a physical reminder to notice and remember what’s so special about the moment.
The webinars offered another technique to increase your daily amount of gratitude. Every evening, write down three good things about the day, no matter how small. Over time, you’ll be surprised at how small pockets of happiness can embed themselves into the most frustrating of days.
Trying out new things
It’s important to keep learning and trying new things; research shows that being exposed to new ideas increases engagement and your sense of confidence. I try and incorporate this into my life in small ways: cooking new recipes and reading widely.
Having an exciting but achievable goal to work towards is incredibly motivating. Is there anything more satisfying than accomplishing something you’ve worked hard for? I do my best to think about and define goals. In the next few years, those goals look like the completion of my Master’s degree and finding a job in my field.
What makes you happy, U of T? What do you do every day to make yourself happier?