South Africa is the sixth happiest African country – according to the 2021 World Happiness Report. And while that number might look impressive, we need to consider that there were 149 countries surveyed and South Africa places 103rd in total. The survey is an indicator of how happy citizens perceive themselves to be, according to various factors.
Mental health and our general state of happiness has, of course, been impacted not only by the pandemic but by the fact that the world currently finds itself in a state of disarray. So, it seems more crucial than ever before to celebrate International Day of Happiness.
We’ve compiled some simple ways to boost your mood and add happiness to your life.
Disclaimer – we are in no way suggesting that the below ideas will automatically make you happy and cure anxiety or depression. If your mental health feels out of your control and you need help, please reach out to a professional or call SADAG (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group) on 0800 567 567.
Plant a garden for happiness
More than ever before, our gardens have become the space we escape to, and relax in. Whether it’s a small balcony garden or a family-sized backyard, people are turning to their gardens to find their Zen. Just sitting in your garden, breathing fresh air and listening to nature’s melody around you will help you relax and unwind. A Harvard report states that spending time outdoors is a massive mental health boost for people who are stressed, and that simply interacting with nature is one of the best self-improvement tools they can use.
“There are so many health benefits of gardening, from the physical exercise we get as we plant and dig and weed, to lowering stress,” says Alen Ribic, Co-founder of SweepSouth, whose outdoor service provides pre-vetted, trusted gardeners and garden services around the country. “But the importance of gardening extends beyond physical health,” says Alen. “There’s an old old Chinese proverb that says: ‘He who plants a garden, plants happiness.’ Gardens reconnect us to the cycle of nature, giving us a harmonious space where we can relax, reflect and restore.”
Tune into happiness
One of the simplest and most effective ways to add a bit of joy to your day is through music. When we need motivation or that extra push to get out of bed and conquer the day, a good playlist is sometimes all it takes. Music has been proven to give us a dopamine boost and can relieve symptoms of stress. So why not turn up your favourite tunes to get you going?
Open up your Spotify app to play one of your favourite playlists, or choose one of the millions available on the platform. There’s something for everyone, including Happy Hits, Happy Beats or Happy Favorites. If you’re on the go and need some motivation, tune into Traffic Jams or Gym Beats for some upliftment.
The joy of giving back
Another great way to add some joy to your life is by giving back to those in need. One way of doing so is to purchase products made by people in desperate need of earning a small living. For instance, local not-for-profit organisation, Relate Bracelets, is a social enterprise that donates the majority of its revenue to credible causes, while creating income opportunities for South Africans most in need.
Relate has recently launched three new Made with Love #zerohunger bracelets. Proceeds from the sale of these bracelets will go towards the Woolworths Trust to help alleviate hunger. Sales also help to support the work Relate Bracelets does in creating jobs for the seniors of Ikamva Labantu who thread the beads together, as well as raising funds for other local charities in need.
Visit Relate.org for further information and to make your purchase.
Travel for happiness
It’s no secret that travelling for leisure can help your mental health. Travel helps us focus on something different and exciting and can often be a good distraction or break from other stressors in life.
Add a bit of happiness to your life by going away for a few days and using travel to explore the world and your city. A location such as Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront is perfect for escape as it not only provides a holiday, but the location next to the ocean will certainly make you feel more positive. Studies have shown that being in close proximity to the ocean gives you a sense of calm while also noting that being close to water can produce dopamine and oxytocin in your brain. All the feel-good hormones! It’s science. An ocean-side holiday is good for your health and happiness.
Take care of your physical well-being
We’ve all heard it – moving more through exercise increases endorphins. Endorphins are a chemical released in the brain that help us feel happy, less stressed and less anxious. So, the more you exercise, the more endorphins you release. We’re not suggesting that you run a marathon or even a 5km race. We are just suggesting that you exercise a little more. Increase your steps for the day, walk around the block, swim more if you can, lift weights, dance for fitness or just jump around in the house. Do something that gets your blood pumping and your heart racing and you might find yourself feeling happier as a result.