Mental Health

10 Ways I Stay Happy

I work hard to be happy. Having had a mental breakdown that saw me almost sectioned, and attending group therapy three times a week while I was dosed up on one pill after the other, I have no intention of going back there. Maintaining my mental health is something I work on daily, and I am constantly checking in with myself to see how I’m doing, whether I need to step up my efforts.

10 ways I stay happy

1. Choose to believe the best – the other day a friend was worried that a few people had “un-liked” her Facebook page. I think I shocked her with my response that when my number of likes goes down, I juse assume a drama queen has deleted their Facebook. It takes a bit of doing, but if you can train yourself to flip any negative that comes your way (as much as possible, at least) it does help you to feel happier.

2. Look for the best in others – this is similar to the previous pont. Really make an effort to find something nice – or at least agreeable – in other people. Even if someone really winds you up, look for one good thing you can say about them, and really focus on that. When you focus on the negative in a person, you notice it more and you end up seeing the negative traits of everyone around you – and that can be very isolating.

3. Feel your feelings – Yesterday I published a post about allowing children to cry. The thing is, that doesn’t only apply to children. I am sure that an inability to express my feelings and emotions is what led me to have a massive nervous breakdown five years ago. Burying, ignoring or hiding feelings might work in the short term, but in the longer term it is a recipe for disaster. If you can learn to just sit with your feelings and experience them – good and bad – it will allow you to be more happy over all.

4. Know yourself – I’m toying with the idea of writing a whole post about this. So often we avoid really looking into who we are, thinking it would make us even more miserable to pay too much attention to it. But just like looking at a map in a theme park, you need that big red “you are here arrow” in order to figure out where you’re going. Once you can tell yourself the truth about who you are, where you are and where you’re going, you can get on with moving in the right direction!

5. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day – people think I’m bonkers with this one, but I swear by it. Most nights I’m in bed by 10 or 11, and in the mornings I get up between 6 and 7. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later – but never by much. Even when S was very small and I didn’t have to work and she didn’t have to go to nursery, we were still up around 6 every morning. It helps mentally to have a routine – but also getting up and going to bed at the same time every day helps with your circadian rhythm which means that after a while you just get used to getting up at the same time and feel more energised. On the rare occasion I have a lie in, I feel crappy afterwards.

6. Cut loose the negative people – we all know negative people who drag us down, always look on the dark side of any situation and pooh-pooh our ideas. Sometimes, that person is a relative and there’s not a lot you can do except learn to take a deep breath. If you can though, avoid them like the plague. Negativity is very catching and even more exhausting.

7. Meditate – I’ve written before about my meditation practise and how it helps to keep me calm and on an even keel, and a while back I published a post with different ways to meditate. Meditation doesn’t solve all your problems, but it makes you better able to cope with problems – new and old.

8. Fish oil capsules – in all honesty, I make sure I am stocked up on these before buying food for myself. I am sure that my intake of fish oils is what dragged me out of the pit of eternal stench, and prevented my slipping too far back in when I was pregnant, and after S was born. I take them every day, without fail and am convinced they are what stops me from going back to that pit.

9. Gratitude – no matter how bad things get, there is still something to be thankful for. I write a weekly “reasons to be cheerful” post which is easier some weeks than others. Sometimes it’s a struggle to think of three things for which I can be grateful – but it’s worth doing. Studies have shown that we can train our brains to always look for the positive rather than the negative in a situation, and this makes us happier people.

10. Take a deep breath. – what’s that Yiddish proverb, “man plans and God laughs” – sometimes things don’t go according to plan. You can either get hung up on how you think things should have gone, or you can take a deep breath and think, ok, let’s see what happens next. It’s very tempting to piss and moan and complain about how things haven’t gone the way you planned. Perhaps you feel it’s someone else’s fault you’re getting the shitty end of the stick right now, and you may well be right – but how you deal with it is your own responsibility.

Vicky is a single mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. You can find her blogging, business and social media tips at VickyCharles.com.

14 Comments
  • Terry Tyler

      REPLY

    I'm so glad you're finding ways to work through your difficulties. Can I suggest these, too? Vitamin B, lots of it - it helps to regulate the mood, and any excess is absorbed by the kidneys. Also Evening Primrose. I so agree about the regular sleep thing, as well. One other thing I wondered if I would see on this list - making time to spoil yourself, and doing things that feel good for YOU. If you have the opportunity, a favourite book in bed when you're tired. A LONG bath with bubbles and candles. And another thing that might help - fun. Just for you. I think everything you're doing is so intelligent and admirable, and it might help to let yourself enjoy the lighter side of life sometimes, as well. All the best x

    1. Vicky Charles

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      Thanks Terry, brilliant list. I found the Evening Primrose oil didn't really do much for me - though perhaps I didn't give it enough of a chance! I do enjoy the lighter side of life with S, we have lots of fun x

  • Elizabeth Rebecca

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    The sleep tip is something I try to do but not something I've ever achieved. Lizzie Dripping

    1. Vicky Charles

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      It's one of those things where it helps to have something to make you get up in the mornings when you first start out - like an appointment or something - so that you know you can't just sleep through the alarm!

  • linda hobbis

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    Vicky, it's really odd you mention fish oil capsules. Am sat here with a water infection, dry skin and feeling rough as heck and for some reason I've been thinking of taking these. I've read before that they are good for the brain. Can I ask which ones you take and the dose? Hope you don't think I'm being cheeky but I've had a course of antibiotics which have done zilch and the docs are pretty disinterested. #SundayBlogShare linda hobbis recently posted...Had kids - warning - you might cry at EVERYTHING nowMy Profile

    1. Vicky Charles

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      I don't mind at all, Linda. If you go to Holland & Barrett they do a great big tub of them, they're usually about £20 but there's always some sort of sale on. The dosage is 3 a day so I try to take those spaced out through the day. I am sure they have done more good than anything else I take or have taken - and people always comment that I have soft skin, so perhaps they help that too! Good luck x

  • Sharon Powell

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    These are excellent tips and things we should all try and remember x Sharon Powell recently posted...Silent SundayMy Profile

  • Josie

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    This is actually incredible. And so what I needed to read today. Thank you x Josie recently posted...PhotoMy Profile

    1. Vicky Charles

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      Ah thanks Josie I'm glad you've found it useful.

  • Jade

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    What a lovely helpful post, I remember when I miscarried years ago a nurse gave me something she had printed out with most of the things that you've mentioned on it, I keep it on my fridge so I can look at it everyday. Jade recently posted...Why I wont be training my waistMy Profile

    1. Vicky Charles

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      Oh how lovely of her to give you that. I'm glad it's helped. I think a lot of the time we just need to be reminded to do the things that will make us happy x

  • Raylynn

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    I completely agree with all of these! From my own experiences I know that keeping in check with ourselves is the only way to survive mental health struggles. This week I shared some follow up remarks looking back on my progress since I stopped therapy. http://beyoudesignsut.blogspot.com/2015/06/in-my-life.html?m=1 Raylynn recently posted...In My Life.My Profile

    1. Vicky Charles

        REPLY

      I agree, I think it's about constantly checking back, making sure we're ok.

  • Savannah

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    These are AMAZING tips! I love how you actually list out goals to work towards, and things to think about. People always say to 'be happy' but you've listed out how you can achieve that happiness. All of these are honestly things I want to work on every day <3 Thank you so much for sharing

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