Happiness and Addiction in the Time of COVID

Cultivating happiness at any time can be challenging, but this seems to be especially true now with COVID. A recent survey by US pollster, Gallup, found that nearly 60% of Americans reported feeling worried, and less than half of Americans feel they are thriving right now. These are the lowest levels of well-being since the 2008 financial crisis.

A compilation of research and evidence-based investigations have found that three main components comprise the basic elements of happiness regardless of circumstances surrounding you. The first is to socialize. Socialization is an important protective factor for stress and increases levels of happiness and wellbeing. The second one is helping others. The happiest people are the ones that are ‘other’ focused. Focusing too much on yourself and your own issues tends to decrease happiness levels. The third one is being more present. Happier people tend to be living in the present moment, more mindful and noticing what’s happening to themselves. Meditation is a very powerful tool for how to train your mind to be in the present moment. This helps to bring you away from worrying about some potential future event, back into this moment now and decreases the stress response in doing so. Our theories on what makes us happiest might be wrong. It is actually somewhat counterintuitive. The more we are present, the more we give to others and the more we have social support and socialize, the happier we feel and the more uplifted we are. 

Other recommendations for increasing happiness levels include deleting or spending less time on your social media accounts. Too much time on these can increase the tendency to compare your life to others or be connected to people that are not positive for you. However, at the same time, social media, when used consciously can be a positive support while in recovery. It can help you to connect to others that are also working towards the same goals so you feel there is a community of support behind you. The key is conscious use of social media. Pay attention to what you are looking at and engaged with…it may or may not be for your greatest benefit.

Another recommendation for increasing happiness levels is to exercise and/or meditate daily. Both of these help with managing stress and decreasing stress hormones like cortisol. Meditation can help with stress reactions and gaining new insight and perspectives into your life situation. Exercise is good for improving energy levels, feeling stronger, detoxification, and getting in better shape! Both meditation and exercise improve how you feel about yourself, feel about others and build self confidence and self esteem.

Aside from this, another good recommendation for increasing happiness levels is to invest time in family and friends. When you are working towards recovery, family and friends can be a complicated mix of both support and help, as well as triggers that make your sobriety more challenging and stressful. Being very honest with yourself and assessing which family and friends are stressors or supports is important. Or rather really reflecting on which friend or family relationships you’d like to improve and how you can improve them.

Lastly, it is often helpful to keep a gratitude journal. To learn to say ‘thank you!’ for all the good things in your life, or to say thank you for whatever has happened. If you look, you can see the silver lining in almost anything or also turn something upsetting that feels negative into a positive. It is possible to find gratitude and appreciation for most anything or to reframe your perspective so that you can turn something painful into a positive. Appreciation is a practice and the more you do it, the more it grows!

Happiness can seem like a vague, unattainable goal. We don’t always know what will make us happy, or we get it wrong and think attaining a certain job, income, partner, body type, etc. will create lasting happiness. These things can create temporary happiness and that is helpful but longer-term, sustainable happiness is a practice. Like focusing on appreciation and thankfulness…the more you practice healthy positive methods to increase your happiness everyday…the more it becomes a lifestyle and you feel yourself change into a happier and happier person over time!

An important part of coping with negative emotions and challenges during this time of COVID is increasing practices of thankfulness and cultivating a happiness mindset. Mindful awareness of your thoughts, feelings and experiences can increase your happiness, reduce the potential for addiction and help you realize you may need to make changes or need help. Silver Lining understands that you have spent a lot of time dealing with difficult emotions and triggers during your time using drugs and alcohol. These experiences impact your sobriety and a treatment plan for living your best life in recovery. Our policy of treating small numbers of people in each group allows us to get to know you and the exact type of help you need to learn to be kind to yourself and achieve your goals. We help you flourish now and in the future. Let our Huntington Beach location be where you begin again! Call us today for more information. (866) 448-4563.

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