12 Tips for a Happier You

  • Print

I first wrote this article as tips to help people through depression and tough times, but when I thought about it, these are great tips to make every day a little better. These tips are things I have personally found helpful, as have other people I know. Some of these tips you may have heard before or you might think are common knowledge but I can guarantee it makes a difference. Most of them are tips I have been told by health care professionals. I believe that general wellbeing is very important, and can often make a huge difference in your physical pain.


1. Try regulating your sleep cycle. This improves your Circadian rhythm, which is effectively your body clock. It is very hard work if your sleeping pattern is all over the place but I can guarantee if you can keep regular hours it makes a huge difference. Not only is sleeping at the wrong time or not getting enough sleep an issue, but sleeping too much can also make you tired too. It seems really silly to say, but when I sleep too much (roughly 14 hours a day) I can barely move for fatigue. Sometimes less is more. It is recommended that people should get around 8 hours of sleep a night, but I know people who function at their best at 5 hours of sleep, for extended periods of time. Any more or any less upsets their circadian rhythm.

2. Eat healthily and regularly. This basically means make sure you eat healthy main meals, and avoid going for the junk food. For more information on this read Better Your Mood with Food, by Elizabeth Meryment, Body and Soul. When you eat comfort food it may make you feel better initially, but eating healthy foods makes the feeling last. It will probably also help improve your waist line, which will also make you feel better. If you are finding you are having problems with boredom eating, try doing something that keeps your hands busy like knitting, or playing guitar, or even jigsaw puzzles.

3. Doing things you enjoy, even if it's just enjoying a cup of tea. Don't keep the special things in the cupboard, use them if they make you feel good. Make sure you allow yourself time to smile, or cry. Sing out loud if you want to, even if you don't feel you have a great voice, it will not only brighten your day but other people's too. Allow yourself to have fun.
4. Remember you can always say "no." It's a small word, difficult to say at first, but it can make a difference to your self-esteem, and sanity. Remember your time is your own; use it to do things for you, not someone else.

5. Likewise, remember you can always say "yes" too. The movie Yes Man is a great example that sometime you need to step out of your comfort zone to find happiness. Trying new things and having adventures can give you more interest in yourself and your life.

6. Find your passion. This can be extremely difficult when you have depression, you may feel like you get no enjoyment out of anything. But look to the things you find yourself doing when procrastinating or daydreaming, and see if you can find a pattern. If you find yourself doodling, perhaps art is a passion. If you find you clean when procrastinating, perhaps having a clean and tidy house makes you feel good about yourself. Find your passion and make time specially to do it.

7. Exercise has been proven to raise serotonin levels, which improve mood. Of course always start slowly, and remember to stretch out afterwards. If you are unsure about which exercises are good for you and which could make your injuries worse, make sure to ask your health professionals.

8. "Seize the day." Make the most of every day, because you never know what tomorrow will hold. Enjoy the good times as they don't last forever, and don't despair in the bad times because you never know what tomorrow will hold. "Remember this too shall pass."

9. Smiling is a very important thing! Often people with depression can feel like they are living behind a happy mask, hiding their "true self" from the world. But I have found from experience the phrase "fake it till you make it" does work. If you change your words to sound more positive, you will feel more positive. If you smile at people, the natural response if for them to smile back, which will make them feel good, and hopefully make you feel good for brightening someone's day!

10. Spend time with people who make you feel happy, safe and supported. Life is too short to hang around people who don't. Even if the people who are bringing you down are close friends or family, you can still reduce the amount of time you spend dealing with them, so you have more time to spend with people who are positive!

11. Spend time in the sunshine! Vitamin D is very important for happiness. It's a vitamin that is not often found naturally in foods but the body synthesizes itself with enough exposure to sunlight. We all know that too much sunshine has been linked with premature aging and skin cancers but not getting enough Vitamin D has also been linked with premature aging. Low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with increased mortality. It has been proven that getting enough vitamin D helps with bone health, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, infections and some cancers. It also helps your body to naturally develop a proper Circadian rhythm, which will improve your sleep patterns.

12. Remember that with depression you cannot just "snap out of it". You need to allow yourself to express your feelings. But remember you are in charge of yourself, how you act and how you look after yourself. So start treating yourself with kindness and looking after yourself, because no-one else can do it for you!

I will leave you with a link to one of my favorite poems, Desiderata, by Max Ehrman.