From health crises to war, people around the world are facing many challenges right now.
In light of the tough times, wellbeing matters more than ever, and when we take care of ourselves it sets us up to be able to help others. To mark the United Nations' International Day of Happiness on 20 March, wellbeing and nutrition expert Penny Weston has shared her top tips for sparking joy naturally each and every day.
Regular exercise is the key to physical and mental wellbeing.
"When we exercise, the body releases chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which boost our sense of wellbeing and suppress hormones that cause anxiety," she said. "Keeping exercise fun and consistent is key: for many people, making it a part of your social life is the way to achieve this. Though it is always sensible to seek medical advice before making any major changes to your routine."
Taking a few minutes to sit and contemplate your day can make all the difference to your mood.
"It's important not to become discouraged when your mind starts to wander. With time and effort, your focus will become stronger. It's something you can do virtually anywhere at no cost, and the benefits for your mental wellbeing and overall health are so strong. There are many ways to begin from local classes to apps or online practices," the expert explained.
Learn about essential oils
Smell is one of our most powerful senses and has been proven to affect our emotions and actions.
"Reduce stress by incorporating essential oils into your daily routine," advised Penny. "You can make your own scented spritz by mixing 10-15 drops of a calming essential oil, such as lavender or bergamot, and one ounce of water in a spray bottle. This can then be used as a natural room spray, pillow spray or linens, amongst other uses, for a calming home environment."
Go for a stroll
We all know walking has wonderful benefits for the mind and body.
"Whilst walking might not be the most strenuous form of exercise, it is certainly an effective way to get in shape and burn fat and strengthen the muscles in your legs. How can you build it into your daily routine? Obviously, owning a dog is the ultimate motivation! If you don't have a pet of your own, you could also consider volunteering at a local dog rescue centre."
Ending your day by jotting down some thoughts or ideas can really aid in discovering your dreams and motivations.
"I love writing a journal," added Penny. "It's a habit I've developed over a number of years and it did take a while to make it stick but now I wouldn't be without it.
"Each morning, wake up and write three things you are grateful for. It really keeps you focused on the positives in life."