If there was ever a time we needed a little boost, it's now. Despite the challenges of 2020, there are plenty of ways to lift your mood - you don't have to do them all - just pick one and see how you feel.
7. Get outside
Staying indoors has been a necessity in recent months, but now is the perfect time to get outside and reap the benefits of the sunshine and fresh air.
Sunlight stimulates the production of Vitamin D in your skin, helping to improve your mood, reduce your stress levels and help you get a good night's sleep.
Giving someone a big old bear hug, for at least six seconds, has been shown to release endorphins; these natural feel-good hormones lift your mood and contribute to an overall feeling of wellbeing.
A partner, friend, family member*, or even a pet, are all perfect cuddle candidates.
No, really - one of the best ways to lower stress levels and relax your mind and body is to focus on your breathing.
Sit somewhere quiet, lower your shoulders, close your eyes, and take a long deep breath in through your nose and release slowly through your mouth - repeat as many time as you like until you feel calmer and more relaxed. If your mind starts to wander (shopping lists, appointments, housework, family members, work commitments....) refocus on your breath - in....... out....... how does it feel? Tune in to the sounds of the world around you, combined with those of your own breathing and let your worries drift away.
It's easy to let unread books, broken tools, outdated tech, old clothes and unused toys clutter up work surfaces, book shelves, and even floor space - but having too much "stuff" around the house isn't just irritating - it can also lead to stress, inability to focus and feelings of overwhelm.
Take one simple step today and tackle just one area - maybe it's the post-it notes stuck to the fridge, or the kitchen drawer overflowing with cables, flat batteries and emergency birthday cards. Perhaps it's finally time to say goodbye to the VHS copy of Dirty Dancing or the Now 17 CD - when broken down into small areas, decluttering is achievable and empowering. Donate good quality goods to charity, sell items online, or simply recycle at your local recycling center.
3. Follow your nose
Smells have been shown to trigger emotional reactions - and many have proven mood benefits. Lavender is associated with feelings of calm and relaxation, orange oil with reduced anxiety and basil oil with energy and motivation.
To feel the benefits of essential oils, add a few drops to a warm bath before taking a soak, dab a few drops on the back of your neck or simply take a sniff straight from the bottle. It turns out you really can bottle happiness.
2. Chat with friends
There's a reason video calling took off during lockdown - catching up with friends is a great way to cope with stress, uncertainty and worry. It helps bring your problems into perspective (a problem shared is a problem halved) and adds a sparkle to your mood. So pick up your phone, hit 'Call' and get chatting.
1. Book a treat
Research shows that having something to look forward to can lead to a happier life - whether you plan a family movie night, or book a seven-night stay in a private lodge with hot tub, a weekend get away in a luxury hotel, an induglent spa treatment, or a mouth-watering afternoon tea, these could all give a little lift. Anticipation of a pleasurable experience is a powerful motivator.
Get started by writing something in the calendar - make it extra big. Tell people what's coming up and why you're looking forward to it - this will help reinforce those positive feelings and build the anticipation.
* Members of your bubble or household only while social distancing remains in place.