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Mind & Body

How to be kinder to yourself

In times of difficulty, it’s more important than ever to take a moment to show a little kindness to the person who matters most in your life: yourself. SUZANNE SCOTT suggests some simple ways to take care of number one

Beauty

Enjoy the sunshine

While we don’t need sunshine to create vitamin D (supplements do the job just as well), evidence indicates that supplementing does little to limit Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). For that, you need the sun. Likewise, studies show that levels of serotonin (the happiness hormone) are higher on sunny days. There’s no consensus on how long you need to be in the sun for a serotonin release, so try to enjoy it first thing in the morning or at the end of the day – whether that’s on a walk, run, in the garden or even sat by an open window – when the rays are milder.

Hit mute

Research shows that social media can trigger envy, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Apps such as Offtime allow you to manage your social-media use by restricting access to apps at certain times and blocking notifications. Remember, you are your own content curator.

Enroll in the ‘happiness’ class

Yale’s famous Psyc 157 course is now available online under The Science of Well-Being on the digital learning platform Coursera. It’s the most popular class in the history of the college, where you learn the skills of gratitude, happiness, meditation and savoring.

Carve out moments of calm

“Put a red dot on your wallet, desk, computer screen, or anywhere you are likely to see it often,” says holistic therapist Annee de Mamiel. “Every time you see that red dot, stop what you are doing and take a deep, calming breath. See it as a moment to be still.” Red might seem alarming, but it’s ideal for this purpose as it’s a color we see everywhere, from traffic lights to stop signs.

Read yourself happy

Subscribe to The Week in Good News, the global feel-good news update from The New York Times. Its ethos is simple: reporting on anything that has a positive and informative stance “to start your weekend with a lighter heart”.

Get involved

Join the private social network for your neighborhood at Nextdoor – essentially Facebook for your block. Once you sign in to your community, you get updates on events, local issues and neighborhood goings-on. It’s both charming and helpful, and studies have shown that being more connected to your local community – even if it’s just online – has a positive impact on mental health and loneliness.

Take a soak

Cocktail your bath with essential oils that work: jasmine for comfort and joy; citrus for happiness; peppermint and rosemary for mental clarity; frankincense and geranium for balance. The right amount is also key, as too much can have the opposite effect and even exhaust the system instead of helping it. Keep to five drops in the bath or one on your pillow.

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