Life in quarantine has taught us a few things. For one, it’s okay to embrace the chaos of having no schedule. COVID-19 has forced us to be creative with ourselves and find joy in alternate avenues that don’t come in boutique fitness or a drink at the local bar. It’s created a phenomenon called quarantine fatigue (Yes, people are tired of quarantine) and while economies begin welcoming aspects of our normal day-to-day, it’ll be a while before we can totally go back to normal.
While your normal routine might seem like a distant relationship, it’s understandable that happiness might be difficult to come by right now. But there’s good news in changing that: new research shows that having some type of variety in your day-to-day can have extreme benefits by way of happiness.
A new study published in Nature Neuroscience found that a routine as simple as taking a walk daily through your neighborhood would make you happier. The study, which tracked moods of more than 120 people over the course of several months, was conducted by New York University where researchers investigated a simple question: Is diversity in humans’ daily experiences associated with more positive emotions states?
“Our results suggest that people feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines — when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences,” said Catherine Hartley, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology in a press statement. “The opposite is also likely true: positive feelings may drive people to seek out these rewarding experiences more frequently.”
The study revealed that little moments of new every day can have positive impacts on your mindset. Stuck on your couch all day while quarantining? Try going for home and discovering something new outside your doors. Like travel, the study revealed that the more exposure you have to diverse experiences the more you felt better and had positive experiences.
“These results suggest a reciprocal link between the novel and diverse experiences we have during our daily exploration of our physical environments and our subjective sense of well-being,” Hartley said.
Aaron Heller, an assistant professor at the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology, added: “Collectively, these findings show the beneficial consequences of environmental enrichment across species, demonstrating a connection between real-world exposure to fresh and varied experiences and increases in positive emotions.”