Feeling happy is important for both your mental and physical health, but it can prove a struggle at this time of year.
That's why it's important to try to make yourself happier for International Happiness Day, which is Monday, March 19.
Here are my five top tips on how to make yourself happier:
1. Be active – being physically active is good for our mental wellbeing. You don’t need to run a marathon – find an activity that you enjoy and that fits into your daily life.
2. Eat and drink well – eat a healthy, balanced diet. Poor or restricted diets are often lacking in B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which have both been shown to have a big affect on our mood. Too much sugar and not enough fibre will also make us feel sluggish.
3. Be social – connecting physically (not online!) with other people is important for our wellbeing. Strong relationships help us feel more supported, secure and give us a sense of purpose. Supporting others has been shown to improve our wellbeing too.
4. Make time for yourself – whether it’s reading on your commute into work, a ten-minute walk in the park at lunchtime, or half an hour in the bath, take time to destress from the busy world. Meditation or mindfulness can help. Get to know who you are and what you want.
5. Have a social media detox – there are countless studies that correlate social media with anxiety, depression, isolation and sleeplessness. Social media can cause us to ‘compare and despair’ and leave us feeling undervalued if our posts don’t get many ‘likes’. Have screen-free evenings or days and try to spend time connecting face-to-face with your friends and family.
It’s important to talk to those around you, and if you are worried about yourself or someone you know, there are many ways to get help. Your doctor can offer advice on the lifestyle changes, short term treatments and repeat prescriptions that may be appropriate for you.
* Dr. Alexandra Phelan is an NHS GP and Online Doctor for Pharmacy2U.