Want to make 2017 your best year ever? Try these quick, easy happiness hacks, which will help lift your mood, find the joy in now and make this year your best year ever.
- A Happy Jar
I spotted this idea on Sarah Tomczak (Deputy Editor of Red)’s Instagram feed @statredmag and immediately wanted to copy. Any time that anything good happened to her or her family, they’d write it down and pop it into the jar. At the end of the year, they emptied the jar, relived the moments and wrote them down in the book to treasure forever. It’s so easy to forget the little things that really make you happy and this is such a wonderful and easy way to remember them.
2. Have at least one day a week offline
It’s all too easy to spend your time glued to your phone or computer. And whilst Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (whatever is your social media poison) can be great, they can also make you feel miserable, insecure and jealous. Countless studies (you can read some here, here and here) have highlighted the negative effects that social media can have on your psyche, so if you – like me – are vulnerable to this, then switch off. Whilst I still have a Facebook account (for work, I’d leave if not for that), I rarely check it – and feel better for doing so. I am, however, a bit of an Instagram addict and whilst I think it’s a great platform, I also need to control my use otherwise I can find myself more interested in what’s going on in the life of someone I’ve never met than I am in what’s going on immediately around me. And that’s just not healthy, is it?
If you can’t leave social media entirely then ration your use – I recently read that batch checking email is a good way to do it (just 3 times a day) likewise batch checking social media is a good plan – I sometimes check instagram in the morning and then log out for the day.
I’ve also started leaving my phone in the kitchen in the evening. I find that if it’s right next to me I’ll just pick it up and start scrolling. If I don’t see it, I’m not so tempted. I’ve also stopped bringing my phone and iPad into the bedroom at night and leaving them downstairs. Therefore, I can’t check the phone before I go to bed or when I get up – an easy habit to fall into.
A full day off from online life is also a good idea. In The Times Dr Mark Porter (who I do find annoying on occasion, but is right about this) advocated choosing a Saturday as a social media-free day. I’m going to try it. By living our lives in the now, by allowing us to be in the moment, be bored, to simply stare out at the garden rather than be constantly stimulated by online life, we will all be a lot happier.
In the list of guaranteed things that make me feel happier (less time online) exercise is high up there. I always feel better having gone for a run. I am a bit of a lazy runner often letting weeks pass without doing it, but I’m determined now to make it part of my weekly routine. Without fail, I feel and look better even if it’s only a quick ten-minute loop around my house. My plan this year is to increase my stamina and start to run properly. If you want to join me then you could start by reading Alexandra Heminsley’s brilliant Running Like a Girl – not that I’m planning a marathon, just to be fitter, stronger and better. Whilst I love running to music, I’m also researching good running apps – any recommendations, please comment below! I quite like the idea of the Zombies Run! app – if scaring the bejiggins out of myself makes me run faster, then why not?
4. Spend time outside
This links to the above – largely because I’m not a member of the gym and love to run outside. However, if you don’t like or can’t run, then find another way to spend time outside – again it’s something that always makes me feel better. Whether it’s getting off the bus a stop early or taking the dog for a walk, being outside is a surefire happy tonic.
I have dabbled with this. And when I say dabbled, tried it twice. I’m not really sure why I didn’t continue as I did like it. And so, I plan to try it again. Headspace is an amazing app that teaches you to meditate for just 10 minutes a day. It can apparently change your life. Read Polly Vernon’s article in The Telegraph if you don’t believe me. Buddhify and Calm are also meant to be brilliant.
6. Count your blessings
It’s all too easy to think ‘if only I had this I’d be happy’ or ‘why can’t I have xx like xx?’ We all know we should count our blessings, but do we always? Every night take a few minutes to think about what we should be grateful for that day. From a particularly good coffee to hearing your 3 year-old laugh, it could be anything. By learning to notice and be grateful for what we do have, we’ll learn to be less bothered by what we don’t have.
7. Be kind
A simple, but effective one. If you smile more, then people will smile more at you. And if you don’t feel it at first, then keep trying. Remember what they say – fake it ’til you make it. Or practice small acts of random kindness – open the door for people, let someone go in front of you, pick up litter, give away small change – tiny, small things like this feel good, invite goodness back and open the door to even greater goodness – which, in turn, will make you happy….
Come on 2017 – we can do this!