Do you see the people you love as often as you’d like? Do you spend more time online with your friends or family than in person?
Experts have shown that physical contact provides biological benefits and without it people become depressed and ill. Essentially, we crave, enjoy and benefit from real face-to-face interaction.
Research proves that social communication involves so much more than just the words shared. We seek to understand another person through what they say but also by interpreting both obvious and subtle non-verbal cues. We literally ‘listen’ to other people’s bodies.
Here are some ideas to make you feel happier:
1. See people you love more often
More than 80 per cent said that catching up with family or friends in person was most important. There’s good reason for this – seeing people we like in the flesh helps maintain a strong sense of connection.
2. Enjoy the now
Make the most of get-togethers – switch off your phone, give your thumbs a rest and leave non-essential tech gadgets at home.
3. Work out what makes you tick
Dr Watkins suggests writing a list of 20 things you enjoy (or once enjoyed if you haven’t done some of them in a while!). “Include the little things, such as meeting a friend for coffee, taking a bath, attending a yoga class or looking at stars as well as the bigger things such as weekends away, attending a show or festival, or overseas travel,” she says.
4. Do something new
Routine is dull for everyone (seriously everyone). Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new (even if it’s just the thrill of trying a lip colour you’d never imagine you could pull off!). A little burst of adrenalin can do the world of good for your mental wellbeing
5. Remember the good times
Indulge a quiet moment by bringing up happy memories from your past – it stimulates the production of happy hormones, which will make you feel more positive generally.
6. Focus on the important stuff
“It’s a surprising fact that we humans are notoriously poor at predicting what makes us happy,” says Dr Watkins. “For example, many people think that winning lottery will bring them long-term happiness. Not so.”
While wiping debt can bring relief, research consistently shows that when you reach a relative level of comfort (pretty much anything above not worrying about where your next meal comes from or how to avoid defaulting on the mortgage), increasing wealth won’t increase happiness.
7. Exercise your strengths
Do more of what you’re good at! Focusing on your strengths and values is associated with greater happiness and well-being, but particularly when we actively apply those strengths to our values-based goal setting and behaviour change.
8. Be generous
Whether it’s time or money, giving something back does make you happier – it not only gives you a sense of worth, it also helps you build stronger connections with others.
9. Turn the focus inward
Externally measured definitions of happiness aren’t as stable as the internal kind. Happiness does not come from wealth or income. Nor is it directly associated with physical attractiveness.
10. Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
We’re not all born optimists, but we can retrain our brain to focus on the positive rather. People tend to see aspects of personality as pre-determined and immutable but that’s not entirely the case. A person can have a predisposition to heart disease but, simply by practicing a few simple health practices, such as exercise and healthy eating, significantly lower that risk and indeed change their physiology. Similarly, you could say we can ‘train our brains and minds’ to be happier.
What do you do that makes you happy?