Happiness is something we all strive for but sometimes struggle to find. For most of us, there will be times when we feel a bit sad or “flat”, lacking in energy and motivation or feeling a bit at odds with the world. For some of us this may extend to depression, weepiness and despair. These feelings can be fleeting or they can last for weeks and months. Sometimes you can pinpoint the cause of your feelings and other times it’s not obvious.
Regardless of what’s underlying your mood and whether or not you need pharmaceutical or herbal support along with the right type of counselling there are some simple things you can try which have been shown to help improve your mood and well-being.
11 tips to help you feel happier
- Get close – give someone (or something) you care about a hug as often as possible. Physical contact is great for the soul. But it doesn’t have to be human. Contact of the animal kind works just as well.
- Give someone a smile – it is really important for the people you care about and it’s easy to forget to make eye contact and engage with the person next to you when you are busy or lost in your own thoughts. And it may be even more important to smile at a stranger occasionally (but not in a creepy way). So the next time your barista hands you a coffee or someone opens a door for you, look them in the eye and give them your biggest smile. It will make them feel good and it will make you feel good too.
- Do someone a favour – an act of kindness when it is not expected is a wonderful way to give and receive a warm glow.
- Focus on the positives – it’s really easy to focus on the negatives or bad things that seem to happen to us and often one or two “bad” things can overshadow the good stuff that has happened that day. So, keep a “positives list” and make a note of anything positive which happens. That way when you feel like you are being bombarded with negatives, you can refer to your list and remind yourself of the good things that have happened that week. It helps you to maintain your perspective when you feel like you are slipping down a hole.
- Count your blessings – it’s easy to overlook all the things we are grateful for in our life when we are feeling stressed, tired or depressed. Keeping a gratitude journal or simply “counting your blessings” before you go to sleep is a great way to remind yourself of what’s really important in your life. In other words, the bigger picture. I’m betting you could come up with at least 5 things you are grateful for.
- Laugh – spend an hour or two watching your favourite sitcom or comedy – there’s nothing like a good belly-laugh to lift your mood.
- Look after your body – eat foods that support good health and get regular exercise (preferably doing something that you love such as jogging, dancing, gardening, yoga, walking the dog, riding your bike, going to the beach/mountains etc).
- Relax – know the best stress management techniques that work for you e.g. relaxation/breathing exercises, meditation, a hot bath, prayer, quiet reading, talking, writing, laughter etc and practise them regularly.
- Try not to compare yourself to others – It’s so easy to feel miserable when we look at social media and see the fabulous posts of our friends or even complete strangers who seem to be living some amazing life. Even people you interact with will be attempting to show you their best side. But remember you are seeing the “highlights reel” and you don’t know what’s going on behind that glossy façade. So stop comparing your life to anyone else’s. You are a unique individual and there is no-one like you. Be yourself and be true to yourself. Practise acceptance.
- Plan for a change – if something is not right in your world, develop a plan to change it. Even though making that change might take time, knowing you have a plan which will get you there in the end can make a huge difference to your happiness today. Take the first step.
- Find your joy – I often ask clients what do they do for joy and many struggle with this question. Not every aspect of your life has to be “perfect” as long as you have one or more things that bring you joy. It doesn’t matter what it is. It just matters that it lights your soul. It could be a favourite piece of music, preparing a favourite meal, visiting a favourite shop, tinkering in the shed. It’s basically something where you can “lose” yourself for a period of time.
If you think your happiness levels could do with a makeover, try some of these tips and I promise you, you will notice a difference.
If you think you might be suffering from depression or anxiety, please seek professional help. You may benefit from medication (pharmaceutical or herbal) and/or counselling. A naturopath can help you with herbal and nutritional medicine as well as advice about your diet and lifestyle along with strategies for recovering your “old self”. We can also work with your doctor or psychologist to complement their treatment strategies.