Times are certainly difficult right now, but it is possible to boost your wellbeing even if you can’t leave your home. Psychology professors have long known that both expressing gratitude, and pursuing goals can measurably raise happiness levels. So, by looking ahead with an optimistic eye to travel adventures next year, and looking back with thankfulness to adventures past you could make your day that bit better.
The Optimistic Outlook– Which Destinations are on your wishlist?
Arguably, while we can’t go anywhere – we have the potential to go everywhere with a bit of daydreaming. By using some goal setting techniques, you could even start to build some plans to make those daydreams come true.
The importance of goal setting is to aim for intrinsic goals, the pursuit of things that bring personal happiness, over extrinsic goals, the sort of stuff that brings approval from others. The GREAT news here is that the pursuit of goals while on holiday or travelling is one of the most intrinsic goals out there.*
Start to build your destination wishlist – and really immerse yourself with why you want to go there and what you would do when you are there. Here are some ideas:
- Sri Lanka to hike the hill country
- Nepal to go on a yoga retreat
- Colorado to go white water rafting
- New Orleans for a Jazz festival
- Chamonix to go skiing
- Athens to run a marathon
- La Rioja to do wine tasting
Don’t hold back, really get your dream on and make a big long list. You could even go as far as printing off pictures and making a vision board – creating a collage that you can look at every day and remind you of what you’d like to do.
“Some of us might wonder if it is feasible or possible to continue striving towards our goals during times of crisis. Research suggests that not only is it possible, but commitment to goals during such times may help us cope better with problems” Prof Sonja Lyubomirsky, The How of Happiness.
Next, it is time to create a plan of action – you won’t raise your happiness unless you are actually doing something in pursuit of your goals. Here are some ideas:
- Create a home-fitness plan to increase your skill levels and capability for achieving your goal.
- Hiking might mean building up your step count in your garden, on your stairs and during your daily exercise.
- Yoga retreat dreams might mean signing up to a live online class like these from Same Star Yoga, committing to following YouTube videos, or downloading an app for your home practice.
- There are dedicated workouts online for building up strength and body conditioning to improve stamina for skiing and white water rafting. Right now many instructors are documenting their home workouts such as James Wheatley’s No Gym, No Problem series.
- If something less active, such as jazz festivals and wine tasting, is on your agenda, boost your knowledge with online courses and joining forums to learn more about your subject.
- Udemy and Coursera are both great online learning platforms, and some have opened up courses for free while people are being asked to stay at home. The Science of Wellbeing by Yale University is one such course available for free on Coursera – just the thing to help boost your wellbeing while you wait to travel.
- Create a to-do list ready for when you are able to fulfil your travel goal.
- Plan an itinerary
- Make a packing list
- Make a note of any visas and vaccinations needed
- Work out your route
- Plan a budget
Commit and be accountable! The idea is to have a plan of action and then carry out that plan, as pursing goals can add much needed meaning to our daily lives. Make a timetable, commit to measuring and tracking your performance and make yourself accountable by sharing your commitment with family members and social groups online.
Boosting Happiness by Expressing Gratitude
Out of all the tools available to make people happier, psychology professors found that expressing gratitude was the most instant and long lasting technique that worked across the board. There are a variety of ways that gratitude can be expressed, but the most simple and effective way is:
- For 14 days choose three things a day to be grateful for and write them down “Today I am grateful for…”
- This can be as simple as: “Today I am grateful for the warm weather, that I enjoyed a fabulous trip to Rome last September, and that my neighbour left me some home grown veg on the doorstep”. Or you can take some time to expand on the things you feel grateful for by writing a detailed account of past adventures, good times, travels, and family holidays – or reconnecting with the people you met on those travels and reminiscing about the fun you had and the sights you saw.
- Text your simple list to a friend or family member, or share with someone in your house – the accountability will make the effect stronger.
- After 14 days carry on with simple things three times a week, or more detailed gratitudes once a week.
These are just a couple of amazing ways to boost wellbeing – you can find out more in the Yale course mentioned, or in Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness. In the meantime, we are still open for business and ready to provide the right travel insurance for your adventures – whatever and whenever they are!
* Sonja Lyubomirsky, (2007) The How of Happiness, p.217