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June 2024

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Mental Health Matters: Finding Your Happiness


Turning on the news, opening a newspaper, listening to a current event’s podcast can all set our mood for the day, often negatively. Harsh weather, violence, illness, worldwide troubles. There are so many things having an effect on us which we have absolutely no control over. What we CAN control is how our mind and body react to this never-ending flow of negativity.


Here are some easy tasks we can all practice on a daily basis to bring more peace and happiness into OUR life.


First, TURN OFF THE FLOW OF BAD NEWS. Instead of turning the TV on in the morning or before going to bed, and tuning in to a news station, turn on your favorite music instead. Sing along, move to the music, stretch, remember the first time you heard this song. Who was with you? How old were you? If we could see our brains hearing or making music, we would see an increase in blood flow to the areas that generate and control emotions. Old rock and roll? Big band music? Mariachi? Classical? Find what makes you smile and turn it up!


Make your bed and tidy the house (with the music still playing). Make the bed, feed the cat, fix your tea or coffee, put things in their place, and start your day with contentment.


Sit with that cup in hand and make a list of ten things you are grateful for. Your family? Your garden? Your bad haircut is growing out? That there is food in your cabinets? Your dog? Be grateful and make a list.

Actually write the list down and make a new one each day. I like to light candles around the house each morning and with each flame, name something in my life that makes me thankful. When I see the little flickers throughout the day, I get a reminder.


Surround yourself with positivity and people who make you happy. If a friend starts a conversation with how someone has wronged them, or how their job is horrible, or that their head aches so badly they can’t even think, stop them gently. Say “Let’s just talk about good things for the next five minutes. Remember when you made the tres leches cake everyone thought was so delicious? Isn’t it great that the kids are back in school again? Do you want to share a case of green chili this year? Have you seen the sunflowers in Cerro?” Happiness is contagious. Spread and accept joy.


Now do something for someone. Does the person behind you in line have only a few items? Tell them to go ahead. Is there an older friend or relative who would love a quick visit or a phone call from you? Reach out. Do you have an afternoon a week to spare? Volunteer to read with a child at school. Make cookies for your doctor’s office staff. Write a silly note and leave it where someone you love will find it. Tell a child they have good manners.


The easiest and most important thing you can do to help to dispel bad feelings is just to breathe. Slowly breathe in while counting to five, hold it for five, breathe out for five. This can be done anytime throughout the day if you feel your anxiety starting to grow. Breathe!


Make having joy and sharing joy a habit.

Author

  • Dawn Provencher

    Mental Health Matters: The northern Taos County communities have lost several young people in recent months. Questa del Rio News is starting a column dedicated to mental health matters. Dawn Provencher is a retired counselor. She has a master’s degree in counseling and a master’s degree in social work. She will be contributing to this column on a monthly basis.

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