The 20th March is International Day of Happiness.  So by way of celebrating I would like to share with you 6 top tips for a happier state of mind.

Before I go into what we can do to make us feel happier, it’s important to recognise, like anything, in order to experience the true value and benefit of something positive and happy we need to have experienced the down side to that feeling.  Unfortunately we will all encounter some sad times!

It is important to recognise, no matter how hard it may be, in a normal state of mind, we have the power to choose to be happy, or to certainly focus on the positives in any given situation.

Viktor Frankl, a well known neurologist and survivor of the WW2 holocaust in Auschwitz said:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

It may be hard to consider a positive state of mind from such an atrocious experience. This also isn’t to compare with our own state of unhappiness or happiness, as our feelings and how we deal with them are personal to us.

So if you are struggling to produce a smile today here are 6 top tips taken from the NHS website:

1 – Manage your stress levels

If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it, such as learning a few time-management techniques like the following:

·       Work out your goals

·       Make a list – keep it short/ don’t overwhelm yourself – helps keep you organised

·       Write a to BE list

·       Focus on results – what are you going to achieve as a result?

2 – Have a lunch break

I am so guilty of not doing this or I’ll eat while I’m working, but actually it’s counterproductive. Personal time gives you space to re-energise. Maybe go for a 30 min walk ready for a productive afternoon?

3 – Prioritise important tasks

Tasks can be grouped into 4 categories:

  • urgent and important
  • not urgent but important
  • urgent but not important
  • neither urgent nor important

Taking control of your time in this way can effectively reduce stress.

If you feel overwhelmed in dealing with lots of tasks and feel stuck when it comes to prioritising, perhaps do some breathing exercises.  The Head Space App is great for encouraging short breathing sessions, so they don’t take up too much of your time, but help you re-focus.

4 – Enjoy yourself

Doing things that you enjoy is good for your emotional wellbeing.

Simple activities like watching sports with a friend, having a soak in the bath or meeting up with friends for coffee can all improve your day.

Doing something you’re good at, such as cooking or dancing, is a good way to enjoy yourself and have a sense of achievement.

Try to avoid things that seem enjoyable at the time but make you feel worse afterwards, such as drinking too much alcohol or eating junk food.

If you struggle to dedicate time to yourself, consider starting with just 15 minutes a day and see how it can improve your mindset and interactions with others.

5 – Boost your self-esteem

Self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself.

The best way to improve your self-esteem is to treat yourself as you’d treat a valued friend, in a positive but honest way.

Notice when you’re putting yourself down, such as thinking, “I’m so stupid for not getting that job”, and instead think, “Would I say that to my best friend?”. You probably wouldn’t.

Tell yourself something positive instead, such as: “I’m a bright person, I’ll get the next job”.

6 – Have a healthy lifestyle

Limit your alcohol intake

When times are hard, it’s tempting to drink alcohol because it “numbs” painful feelings.

But it can exaggerate some feelings and make you feel angry or aggressive. It can also make you feel more depressed.

Choose a well-balanced diet

Making healthy choices about your diet can make you feel emotionally stronger. You’re doing something positive for yourself, which lifts your self-esteem.

A good diet helps your brain and body work efficiently, too. Aim to have a balanced diet that includes all the main food groups.

Do some exercise

Even moderate exercise releases chemicals in your brain that lift your mood.

It can help you sleep better, have more energy and keep your heart healthy.

Choose an exercise that you enjoy. If it helps, do it with a friend or listen to music. Adults should aim for 150 minutes a week.

Get enough sleep

Around 7 to 8 hours is the average amount of sleep an adult needs for their body and mind to fully rest.

I mentioned this earlier, but Writing a “to do” list for the next day before bed can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions. Keep it small – don’t overwhelm yourself – you are only human!

Talk and share

Communication is important, whether it’s with a friend, family member or counsellor.

Talking things through helps you to release tension, rather than keeping it inside. It helps strengthen your relationships and connect with people.

Lots of people find talking to a counsellor about things that are troubling them very helpful.

Build your resilience

Resilience is what allows you to cope with life’s ups and downs.

Taking something worthwhile out of painful times helps your resilience grow.

Starting a support group to help others, or making something creative out of bad experiences by, for example, writing, painting or singing, can help you express pain and get through hard times.

And my top tip

Pick your tribe – it’s not always easy but give most of your energy to those who share your positive energy.

I hope this has been useful – have a ‘Happy International Day of Happiness’ – remember you have the power to make steps forward to a positive state of mind!


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