We all strive for happiness but it can be hard to find, and as the saying goes, it’s something money just can’t buy. Magazines, adverts, social media, friends, family – all have different ideas about how to achieve happiness.
In the past few years, scientists have found that although our genes and circumstances play a part in affecting how we feel, a large proportion of our happiness comes from the things we do.
Here are ten tips on how to make yourself happier:
Be active – evidence shows that physical activity is good for our mental wellbeing. You don’t need to run a marathon – find an activity that you enjoy and that fits into your daily life. Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.
Eat and drink well – eat a healthy, balanced diet. Too much sugar and not enough fibre (found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains) will also make us feel sluggish. Alcohol is a depressant, so cutting down how much you drink will make you feel better.
Be social – connecting physically (not online!) with other people is important for our wellbeing. Strong relationships help us feel more supported, secure and give us a sense of purpose. Supporting others has been shown to improve our wellbeing too.
Give – doing things for others has a big effect on our happiness. Giving creates stronger connections between you and other people. Try giving five minutes a day to help someone, give away the things you don’t use anymore, or volunteer in your community.
Make time for yourself – whether it’s reading on your commute into work, a ten-minute walk in the park at lunchtime, or half an hour in the bath, take time to de-stress from the busy world. Meditation or mindfulness can help. Get to know who you are and what you want.
Have a social media detox – there are countless studies that correlate social media with anxiety, depression, isolation and sleeplessness. Have screen-free days and try to spend time connecting face-to-face with your friends and family.
Keep learning – evidence shows learning boosts our self-esteem and self-confidence, while giving us a sense of satisfaction and optimism – take up a new hobby or craft, cook a dish you haven’t tried before or learn to fix something in your home.
Set goals – Goals help to give us focus and feel in control over our own lives.
Play – Idle play changes our daily routine, lifts negativity and can make you more creative. Play keeps us healthier in old age and helps us find the answers to problems.
Smile – research has shown that smiling helps us, and those around us, feel happier – even if that smile is faked. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try one on and see if it helps you feel more positive!