Watch: Top 5 tricks to get happier in next 5 minutes
Staying upbeat in the first month of the year can always be difficult. But there are small practical things you can do every day to ensure you up your happiness quotient.
Here, eight experts share their secrets to saying positive, even on the bluest day of the month…
Write a diary
Scheduling 10-15 minutes a day to write a daily journal is a really helpful way to increase self-awareness, according to Karen Liebenguth from www.greenspacecoaching.com.
"It will enable you to know yourself better, your ingrained habits, ways of thinking and behaving, your qualities, talents and skills so that you can grow and develop. A small, but positive thing to start doing this month."
Make your bed
Why not boost your mood from the moment you get up? US socio-economist Dr Randall Bell and his team surveyed more than 5,000 high-achieving people across the world and found that one key factor that many had in common was making their bed each morning.
According to Dr Bell, making your bed puts your mind into a productive mindset and can spark other productive tasks throughout the day.
Hug a tree
"We know that being out in fresh air and nature has a mood boosting effect, but actually hugging a tree can alleviate tension, anger and depression," says empowerment coach Taz Thornton.
In fact, a 2019 study with Derby University show that simply spending time in woodland – and particularly time spent close to and in contact with trees - had a significant impact on the emotions of those taking part and also their heart rates.
Did you know that there are close to 7,000 nerve endings in your feet? "Applying pressure to these nerves (reflexology) can reduce stress and boost your mood," says Charlie Thompson, founder of The Massage Company.
"Some have even reported better digestion, cleared sinuses and better fertility as a result.
"One mood-boosting exercise to try is to push down your thumb onto your big toe, applying light pressure and holding for ten seconds before releasing and repeating. Do this for 2-3 minutes."
Schedule hobby time
"If you don’t make time for feel-good things, you won’t do them, as the already ingrained habits and routines of everyday life will take over," says productivity expert Barnaby Lashbrooke, author of The Hard Work Myth.
"Beat this by scheduling time to do the things that make you happy. Use the ‘time blocking’ technique to mark out an hour on your calendar for having a long bath, reading a chapter of a book, or doing any activity you enjoy.
"Add an alert so time doesn't pass you by. You can also use time blocking to schedule activities that would usually distract you throughout the day, for example scrolling social media or sorting through email in one designated slot. This is a great way to claw back valuable time for you."
Dress up for yourself
With so many of us working from home at the moment, it’s tempting to lounge around in our leisure wear but that can also bring our mood down.
"Studies have show that actually taking the time to dress up nicely (for yourself) has been prove to change your self-perception and behaviour in a positive way," says business mindset coach Kirsty Knight form kirstyknightcoaching.com. "In simple terms, if we are dressing up for ourselves, we feel like we are showing up for ourselves."
Read more: 7 Foods to Boost Your Mood
We do it all the time but experts say we shouldn’t underestimate the physiological power of breathing to immediately reduce our stress response.
"It doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming,’ says Elaine Carnegie, workplace wellbeing advisor from beingworks.co.uk.
"Just by taking slow, deep breaths you will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, letting your body know it's safe. Try this exercise called ‘box breathing.
"Find a window or a frame to help you focus and breathe in counting 1,2,3,4 ...hold for 1,2,3,4 and breathe out for 1,2,3,4. The main aim here is to slow your breathing down. Repeat for several minutes as it might take a little time - perseverance is key."
Don't forget the children
"Kids can be susceptible to ‘winter blues’ too and the hormones melatonin (which regulates sleep) and serotonin (the stabilising wellbeing hormone) are the main contributors to this," says child psychologist Dr Melanie Smart.
"If your child is feeling down in the dumps – as well as making sure they eat healthy comfort foods, get fresh air and lots of praise from you, trying a new task or a novel way of something mundane can help.
"Do the chores in fancy dress, sing your way through an album or walk or learn something from your child such as coding. The novelty will wake up the system and the rewards for mastery and joy of doing it will chase away some of that natural ‘urgh’ feeling."
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