Never has the symbolism of the lotus, with its roots in the muck, but its beautiful flower rising above it, been more apt.With the news that we are probably facing a few more months of lockdown, how can we rise above the”muck”and bloom? What can we do to boost our own physical, mental, and emotional health?

Well, we can do quite a lot, according to research in psychology and neuroscience. Below is my list, based on research, of attitudes and activities that increase your feel-good factor, resilience, and positivity, dampen down the alarm response, switch the nervous system from the fight or flight to the more relaxed mode, and increase vagal tone (associated with better health).

Most of these ways of being and acting have also been shown to boost your immune system and increase your physical health and longevity.

You could think of them as being your ‘feel-good toolkit’!

+Physical activity

+Increasing your focus on people and things that make you happy.

+Being in nature

+Learning a new skill

+Deep, slow, breathing, with a longer exhale time

+Progressive relaxation


+Expressing gratitude and appreciation, including keeping a gratitude journal.

+Listening to certain types of music

+Connecting with others

+Focusing on a single process (e.g the breath or a sound or object)

+Limiting exposure to social media

+Being more present, using your senses to connect to your surroundings.

+Being kind to others

+Having spiritual or transcendent experiences

+Watching brief videos of children or animals enjoying themselves

+Watching elevating or inspiring movies

+Being absorbed and giving full attention to a hobby or task (flow)

+Having a sense of purpose

+Enjoying a good laugh

+Feeling part of a close-knit group or community

+Looking at beautiful images

+Choosing your media diet carefully – limiting the bad news, for example

+Chatting to friends, family about some of your best experiences, memories, holidays

The list is not exhaustive: I have deliberately left out hugging, for example, which is a potent wellbeing enhancer. But there’s enough here to get you started. Why not make your own list, validated by what you know makes you feel good?