I don’t usually like using other people’s content as a full blog though I’ve had this bookmarked for a few months now and feel the need to share it. It’s a really good list, containing 50 tips from GPs, psychologists, musicologists, and many others, on how to feel more positive.
You may feel some (or all) of these are utter codswallop but hopefully most people will be able to find something of use here.
The tips which struck a chord with me are 1, 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 15, 21, 23, 26, 29, 33, 36, 37, 46 and 50.
As always, thanks for reading and take care.
1. Take care of the basics
Sleeping well and exercising regularly help us have the emotional reserve to reframe things and to feel more positive. Think of them as top-ups allowing you to manage difficult news. Dr Radha Modgil.
2. Listen to your heart
Close your eyes and focus on your heartbeat. Visualise it pumping and imagine the energy flowing through your body. This is a simple technique designed to pull you into the present moment and tune into the natural joy of being alive. Nichola Henderson, life coach.
3. Avoid those who drain your energy
Stay away from people who drain your energy unnecessarily. You don’t need to make drastic changes, but if someone at work is always negative and bitching, switch desks and sit next to someone who breezes into the office with a smile. Natalie Trice, life coach.
4. Redefine success
The biggest problem people have in their search for happiness is confusing it with success. We are raised in a culture that fools us into believing that hard work, career achievements and material possessions will make us happy. This is a cruel trick designed to feed the market economy; instead, we should focus on simple, virtually cost-free pleasures, such as a cup of tea or a walk on the beach. Dr Rangan Chatterjee, podcast host and author of Happy Mind, Happy Life.
5. Good mood food
Our dietary choices can affect our blood sugar levels, which in turn has an impact on our mood. Refined carbs cause a roller coaster ride which ends with a crash that will leave you feeling low in energy. Slow-release and complex carbs, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can leave you feeling happier, more focused, and more energetic for longer. Rhiannon Lambert, registered nutritionist and author of The Science of Nutrition.
6. Change the structure of your life
Often those lacking positivity find that their current routine or lifestyle doesn’t work for them any more. It could be that you have fallen into habits that are leaving you stressed or anxious and are not giving you an opportunity to relax or unwind. Think about the small ways in which you can adapt your life structure to work better for you. Dawn Baxter, certified positive psychology coach.
7. Let go of parenting perfection
To parents worried about their children, remember that sometimes they will be wrong or make mistakes. It is not your job to prevent that; that is how you learnt, and so will they. Dr Tara Porter, author of You Don’t Understand Me.
8. Treat SAD with vitamin D
Lower levels of sunlight in the winter months have been linked with Seasonal Affective Disorder and depressive symptoms. So get plenty of vitamin D in your diet from foods such as oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified foods, and consider taking a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement, as recommended by the NHS. Rhiannon Lambert.
9. Play some music
If you’re after a quick confidence boost, bass-heavy genres such as hip-hop and heavy metal are the perfect tonic, while songs with a low number of beats per minute help to slow your heart rate and breathing down, aiding relaxation. Singing along to a favourite song also releases endorphins and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Joe Wadsworth, musicologist and founder of the Online Recording Studio.
10. Go forest bathing
Forest bathing is a Japanese practice of spending time being calm and quiet among trees. Research has demonstrated that it can reduce depression, anger and stress, and lift your mood. Dr Carly Wood, lecturer in sport, rehabilitation and exercise sciences at Essex University, working in association with The Columbia Hike Society.
11. Pose like a child
Yoga’s child pose is a gentle inversion that activates the vagus nerve by placing the forehead on the floor and stimulates blood flow to the brain. By taking the knees wide, you will also open up the hips, a place where many people hold a lot of tension. Psychologically, it is a position where we are in full surrender – we can’t see the world around us, so we have to trust that all will be OK. Beth Fuller, yoga teacher.
12. Define your happiness habits
Write down three things that give you an intense feeling of wellbeing – let’s call them happiness habits. See if you can do them each week. For example, a successful week for you might include a walk in nature, a bath with Epsom salts and three meals at the table with your family. Over time, you can gradually increase the number of happiness habits. Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
13. Link cheerleader thoughts to a regular habit
Make a habit of linking positive thoughts to something you do anyway. For example, when the kettle is boiling for your morning tea, think about the things you are proud of. That’s enough to start to change a way of thinking. Nichola Henderson.
14. Take in daily inspirational material
What can you consume to get a jolt of optimism each day? I like to watch TED videos on innovation. Others might prefer daily quotations, motivational tapes or reading biographies of successful people. Chris Griffiths, keynote speaker on innovation and resilience, author of The Creative Thinking Handbook.
15. Keep a bird feeder by the window
Watching and listening to birds sing can heighten feelings of wellbeing, so pop a bird feeder by your window to encourage them to visit. Stephanie Davies, happiness coach.
A great way to shift unwelcome thoughts and feelings is to shake it out with dancing, which is proven to release endorphins. Mariel Witmond, life coach.
17. Seek connection
Staying connected to others is extremely important for maintaining positivity. Get out and about and see people regularly, or video call your friends – seeing others’ facial expressions can lift our mood significantly and can buffer against loneliness. Lowri Dowthwaite, positive psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire.
18. Go cold-water swimming
When you immerse yourself in cold water, the neurotransmitters endorphins and dopamine increase more than two-and-a-half-fold within a few minutes. Dr Susanna Søberg, author of Winter Swimming.
19. Switch to the third person
A technique that works really well in stressful moments is to talk to yourself in your head in third person. Instead of “I am really struggling right now,” I would say, “Rangan is really struggling right now.” Shifting your language like this has been shown to put distance between you and your problems, which reduces stress, shame, rumination and anxiety, and improves performance, decision-making and compassion. Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
20. The ‘don’t not can’t’ principle
To foster a better relationship with your body, instead of saying, “I can’t wear that because I hate my [insert body part],” replace it with: “I don’t wish to showcase that part of my body today, so I will wear something else.” The “don’t not can’t principle” will help you be kinder to your body by focusing on solutions instead of perceived problems. Shakaila Forbes-Bell, fashion psychologist and author of Big Dress Energy.
21. Try box breathing
In stressful scenarios, try the box breath technique, which helps to calm the nervous system. Inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, holding on empty for a count of four. Continue this for 10 or so cycles. Lauren Connors, psychotherapist.
22. Get your vitamin B
Research has found that vitamin B is one of the nutrients that can help to combat depression and boost mood. Specifically, vitamin B6 helps to raise serotonin levels, which is known as the body’s natural “feel-good” chemical. Taking one multivitamin and mineral that’s rich in vitamin B a day is a good idea. Zeinab Ardeshir, pharmacist.
23. Take a gratitude pause
Gratitude pauses are mental breaks dedicated to appreciate what we have. They can be very quick and be done anywhere, any time. Mathilde Boyer, career coach and positive psychology practitioner.
24. Get a quick confidence boost
Grab a notebook, write down everything your critical voice says about yourself and then write the opposite. Choose to believe this version. Do this consistently and you will find your self-esteem starts to grow. Jo Emerson, executive confidence coach.
25. Make a vision board
Grab some magazines and papers and cut out words and images that reflect things you want from your life or that inspire the kind of person you want to be, then create a collage with those cut-outs. Using this as a reminder of what you want can help you to stay on a positive track. Mariel Witmond.
26. Declutter your mind after work
Walk home from work to clear your head, drive in silence or listen to wind-down music. If you work from home, make sure you have a transition between the two, clearing your desk and ordering your papers for the next day. Gillian McMichael, transformational coach and meditation teacher.
27. Set a joy alarm
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to enjoy a joyful moment. This gives us an opportunity to, laugh, smile, wiggle, shake, jump up and down – whatever helps you feel the joy and let off steam. Mathilde Boyer.
28. Channel anxiety into excitement
When you are feeling anxious about a social scenario or big presentation, try thinking the words: “Bring it on.” Positive self-talk can help us manage negative emotions and lower anxiety levels. Dr Elena Touroni, consultant psychologist.
29. Find a laughter trigger
Find something that always makes you laugh – whether that’s Reggie Perrin’s manic scream or The Inbetweeners’ “friends” quote. When you’re feeling low, use this to trigger a mood change. Paul Boross, author of Humourology: The Serious Business of Humour at Work.
30. Write your happy ending
Take a moment to figure out what your life’s happy ending would be. Imagine you’re on your deathbed. Looking back, what are the three most important things you will want to have done in order to feel content? This is an incredibly useful exercise and it gives you a 30,000ft view on the direction of your life. Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
31. Go skipping
Skipping with a jump rope has many benefits, engaging your brain in a way not many other sports successfully do. It provides a sense of euphoria and, for this reason, many adults choose to jump rope to help them destress, get a good work-out and thoroughly enjoy their cardio. Chris Walker, jump rope coach.
32. Create a new habit
If your life feels a little less exciting after summer, it might be a great time to think about developing a new habit. It doesn’t have to be a big change – it could be as simple as reading a few pages before bed instead of watching TV. Dr Lynne Green, consultant clinical psychologist.
33. Declutter your space
Treat your home with a positive mindset and it will pay you back threefold. Do simple things to maintain your space, such as clearing your kitchen surfaces, and you will feel lighter afterwards. Helen Sanderson, author of The Secret Life of Clutter.
34. Label your critical voice
Becoming aware of where your self-critical voice comes from can be helpful: is it your voice or is it that of a parent or a past teacher, for example? This will allow you to become more conscious of this pattern of thinking, and choose not to engage with it. Lauren Connors.
35. Make a positivity jar
Grab a container and label it your “Positivity Jar”. On pieces of paper, write down things that make you smile, such as happy memories, and place them in the jar. Whenever you are feeling a low, go into your jar and pull something out. Mariel Witmond.
36. Manipulate your social media algorithms
The more you engage with positive posts on social media – liking and saving them – the more the algorithm will start focusing on similar positive content for you to see. Mariel Witmond.
37. Remember what you have managed to get through before
We forget how resilient we have been in the past. Remembering times when we thought nothing would get better, but it did, or when we coped can help us stay positive. Dr Radha Modgil.
38. Relax into sleep
Tiredness makes you irritable, so when you can’t sleep, try the progressive muscle relaxation technique. It involves slowly tensing and then relaxing different muscles in your body, from the bottom up. This is a great way of relaxing and distracts you from the busy chatter in your head. Dr Lindsay Browning, sleep psychiatrist.
39. Focus on your contribution
In work, focus on the impact and contribution you are making rather than the job you are doing. This can be helpful for those who are unhappy in a role but can’t leave until they find something else. For example, if you’re a hairdresser, you’re helping people to look and feel their best. If you are working in customer service, you are helping people to resolve issues that are making them unhappy. Arit Eminue, career coach.
40. Prepare coping thoughts
Coping thoughts are mental reminders that help us respond to a triggering situation by challenging the way we think, thus affecting how we feel. A coping thought can be: “This feels uncomfortable, but I know it will pass.” Mariel Witmond.
41. Interrupt catastrophising
Stopping catastrophic thoughts may sound like an impossible task, but interrupting your thoughts may be as simple as saying “stop!” out loud or shaking your head. Dr Roberta Babb, psychotherapist.
42. In relationships, use ‘I’, not ‘you’, statements
Step away from making complaints that are blaming, accusatory or judgemental, because this pollutes the space where our partner may not feel safe enough to change. Do this by using “I” statements, rather than “you”, including with how something had an impact on you. “I notice the bins didn’t get put out. When this happens, I feel like you don’t see how much I do. I feel overlooked.” Jordan Dixon, clinical psychosexual and relationship psychotherapist at The Thought House Partnership.
43. Engage with ‘body brain’ during sex
Suffer with negative internal chatter during sex? Engage with the “body brain”, which connects us more to our senses in the present moment. Do this by paying attention to all five senses. What sounds can I hear? Where is the light coming from? What does the ground beneath me feel like? And so on. Jordan Dixon.
44. Avoid black-and-white thinking
Notice and call out “black-and-white thinking”, which makes us see the world in absolutes. For example, swap “I messed up at work; they’re going to fire me” for “I hope colleagues understand I made a mistake.” Dr Elena Touroni.
45. Picture your career as a river
Think of your career as a river that ebbs and flows. Sometimes there are periods of high winds causing choppier water, but there will also be periods of tranquillity, when you can just go with the flow. Whatever the season you’re in, just like a river, you are constantly moving forward. Arit Eminue.
46. Find something to control
If we lack a sense of control, everything can overwhelming. Finding a way to exert agency over our situation can be transformational. That might be clearing a hectic schedule or even just stepping out of meetings. That merest element of control can part the clouds and give us space to breathe. Bruce Daisley, author of Fortitude: Unlocking the Secrets of Inner Strength.
47. Start the day with a smile
Every morning, smile until you feel your face soften and relax into it. When you do this, your body releases “happy chemicals”, because the brain interprets the physical movements of the muscles in your face as happiness. Kate Oliver, chartered psychologist and executive coach and author of Rise and Shine.
48. Seek out animals
Petting an animal has been proven to release feel-good hormones in the brain, such as oxytocin and dopamine, and reduce levels of stress hormones. Lowri Dowthwaite.
Practising a short meditation daily can help us to build awareness around our thoughts and feelings and how we can sometimes become entangled in them in ways that aren’t necessarily helpful. Dr Elena Touroni.
50. Stretch Standing firmly grounded, with both feet on the floor, stretch upwards, opening your arms, chest and face to the ceiling or sky, inhale and exhale deeply