Don’t worry, be happy; they say. But easier said than done. We all have times in our lives when we struggle to find or feel joy. Maybe we’re simply too busy. Running around ticking items off our to-do list. Before we realised that we’re doing all these things to find joy. But we’re too busy to actually enjoy anything. Perhaps we’ve taken our eye off the ball. Rather than too busy to feel. We find that we are numb. We don’t seem to feel anything; whether joy or sadness. We may have recently or currently be experiencing a traumatic, difficult or profoundly sad life event. Often marked by the loss of someone or something. And for some of us, our mental health may have taken a turn for the worse. Or we have or are developing a mental health illness like depression.
Whatever our reasons for struggling to find or feel joy. They are all valid. But there are things that we can do to help ourselves. This isn’t about finding some Hollywood cinematic happy ending. Where everything will be okay forever. And we have finally found that elusive concept happiness. This is about moments of joy. Some fleeting, some that last that much longer. Often moments that we cling to or revisit in our memory. But it is vital for our mental health that we have those moments of joy to experience and to look back on. It can keep us going in the harder times. And give us something to hold on to when we need it most.
For How Gratitude Boosted My Mental Health read here.
When Joy is Harder to Find
We will all experience times in our live. Usually times marked by mental ill health or some form of distress. Which can make moments of joy harder to find. At these times of our lives, we may also experience negative thoughts or emotions. Which may try and convince us that we will never feel joy again. Understandably, at these times the struggle to feel joy in some moments, even ones that seem happy to others, is that much harder. And, we must also remember, that some of us have less moments of joy in our life. But here we are talking about trying to find that joy. Wherever it can be found and whoever it can be experienced with.
How to Find Joy
The pursuit of joy can be hard when there’s a lot going on in our lives. So, remember to take the pressure off and take it one step at a time. We may try as hard as we can at times and still not manage to feel joy. Other times the feeling may not last as long as we hope. It’s important that we are kind to ourselves and give it a go. But if it doesn’t work try not to read too much into it. Just because it didn’t work this time, doesn’t mean that we won’t feel joy again. And remember, feelings of joy are often fleeting. We’re not aiming for long term warm and fuzzy feelings here. Managing our expectations before we go in is important.
#1 Get Support
If you’ve been experiencing emotions you find difficult. Or no emotions at all. And positive emotions are a distant memory. It may be time to talk to a professional. A good starting point is to go to your GP. They may suggest some self-help strategies and lifestyle changes. But they can also refer you on to further support if they think it would help you.
For Best Practise Supporting Someone in Distress read here.
#2 Track Your Feelings
Try to notice and acknowledge your different emotional experiences in the moment. And track them, perhaps in a bullet journal, app or journal when you have the time. We may discover some experiences, events or people positively impact our emotions and others have the opposite effect. When we know what may encourage positive feelings like joy we can try and maximize the time we spend doing them. Or if it’s people; the time we spend with them.
#3 Give it a Go
What used to make you happy? Who did you enjoy spending time with? If you’ve not engaged with these activities or people for a while. It may be time to start re-introducing them into your life slowly. Sometimes when we try something again and the results aren’t immediate we can get frustrated and stop. I know I do. So, add one thing back into your life and try it for a few days or weeks. If you don’t see a difference then it’s time to stop and try something else. But give it time. And try things one by one so if you do see a positive move towards joy you know what has made the difference.
For A Guide to Prioritizing Self Care read here.
#4 Where are You Looking
Sometimes we are looking for joy in all the wrong places; or people. I have found that out sourcing my joy or happiness to others or activities is only so helpful. I need to be a good place mentally and emotionally. Surrounding myself with people who help me feel good. Ensuring that I am making time to meet my own needs. When I’m in a better space, I can access joy more easily. So, where are you looking? What might need to change? And, who can help you?
For Why Happiness is an Inside Job read here.
#5 Fun Times
We know various actions can positively impact our mental health. Like exercise, helping others, getting outdoors, having a laugh or being creative. Research all suggests that they can boost our wellbeing in various ways. So, it’s worth giving them a try. Some days it might not feel like their doing much for us. But over time they may be making it easier to experience joy. Or even be the source of our joy.
What are your thoughts on finding joy? When is it easiest? And what helps you? Let us know below!