Finding joy when joy is proving more elusive than usual (10 ways to crack a smile)

Sometimes joy feels a little more out of reach than normal. Things feel a little more flat, and you find it harder to find anything to smile about. These are often the times when 'self-care' strategies aren't quite right. Having a warm bath with candles just allows the sense of 'dull' to continue, and having an early night just feels lame. And you're bored of lame.

Sometimes we don't need care, we need joy. So here are some ideas for injecting some fun back into your life. You can self-care some more tomorrow.

1. We'll start small. If the goal is laughter and smiles, the internet is your friend. You don't even need to get dressed. Comedians and pictures of dogs doing something silly work for me. You don't want feel-good, you want silly. Bonus points for finding something that makes you laugh out loud or cry (with giggling).

2. Now we've going to get moving. Sometimes a slump needs the cobwebs dusting out. Remember, this is about finding joy, so turn on some fun music from your teenage years, and have a silly dance or sing along.

3. Money doesn't solve everything, but sometimes having a little treat yo' self session can bring some joy. New makeup perhaps, or a fabulous new top. Whatever sparks some joy.

4. Make some plans. Other people can often make joy easier to find, so invite someone for coffee, or a cocktail date. 

5. Make bigger plans. Maybe your life needs a weekend getaway to look forward to. Or a holiday. Or tickets to a gig. Having something to get excited about always helps lift the levels of cheer.

6. Spend money you sort of shouldn't, but can afford to. Maybe get that haircut you've been dreaming of, or finally subscribe to Netflix. Spending some money on something that brings some joy is rarely wasted. Debt doesn't bring joy, it sucks it, so don't overspend.

7. Do something childish. Visit a gameboard cafe, the cat cafe, the ball-pit bar, or night time mini golf. Granted, I'm a little spoilt living in Shoreditch, as all of these are options on my doorstep, but child-like fun often sparks laughter. Bowling, ice skating, rounders in the park, etc. 

8. Tidy-up. Spending time in a cluttered space drags joy from most of us. Use your slump as a chance to get motivated to de-clutter. Not much compares to that sense of relief that comes with space. Add extra joy by playing fun music at the same time.

9. A different sense of joy this time, but sometimes when we're struggling to find our own joy, it's great to flip the switch. Help give joy to someone else. Can you help someone with something? Can you do something nice for someone? Smiles are contageous. 

10. Dress for the mood you wish you felt, not how you actually feel. You may want to crawl into some sweatpants, but step into something that you know makes you feel kickarse. Whether that's your best dress, or dungarees and massive hoop earrings (just me?) and show the world you mean business. Make yourself look like you feel fabulous and often the inner-you takes notice.