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Smile in the face of January

Got the post-Christmas blues? Bring on some surprisingly simple ways to turn your frown upside down

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    Indulge your inner Beyoncé

    Group singing has been scientifically proven to boost your wellbeing and health, and may reduce anxiety and depression. Worried your voice sounds like a cat trapped in a vacuum cleaner? Choirs for the less vocally blessed are now popping up all over the UK (try tunelesschoir.com). We’re in!

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    See a play…

    …visit a museum, or even go to a gig – because doing something cultural has been shown to improve health and life satisfaction, and may help lower anxiety and depression. OK, we know this pushes the boundaries of ‘culture’, but because Jamie Dornan = joy (source: office poll), seeing Fifty Shades Darker this February counts, too, right?

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    Wake up and say ‘A.R.G.!’

    A is for anticipation. Looking forward to something (even if it’s just a new series on Netflix) is a powerful happiness tool.

    R is for recollection. Science bods have found looking back at the past through rose-tinted glasses helps us have a positive outlook for the future.

    G is for gratitude. It helps you feel positive, deal with adversity and build strong relationships, plus it can improve health. Wow.

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Doing something cultural has been shown to improve health and life satisfaction
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    Start your own gallery

    No need to save for a Warhol: just display copies of your favourite personal snaps where you can look at them regularly. A study found it’ll lift your mood by 11% (chocolate has very little effect!). Bring memories to life by downloading the Boots app – just ping your snaps over electronically, then collect them in store in one hour*.

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    Small talk means big smiles

    Turns out that the British tendency to avoid chatting to strangers could be hindering our happiness. University of Chicago researchers instructed commuters to talk to a fellow passenger – and they had a more positive experience than those who didn’t interact. Time to strike up a conversation about the weather with that hot guy on the train!

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    Get your lugs looked at

    Say what? It’s no surprise that if a health issue (like tinnitus or hearing loss) affects your ability to function, it can erode your happiness, and hearing loss has been found to lead to depression and anxiety. Found yourself turning up the TV volume to blast level? Go to bootshearingcare.com and book a free hearing test.

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    Tiny goals equal big effects

    Setting smaller goals is better for us than trying to achieve bigger ones. Why? It’s simple – the outcome is achievable and matches your expectations. When researchers gave study participants a small goal, such as making someone smile or increasing their recycling, they were happier than if given a tougher one, such as making someone happy or saving the environment. Take heed when making those resolutions…

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*One-hour photo service is subject to availability; selected stores only. †Over 18s only.

Words Danielle Hine Photography Plainpicture

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