I work hard to maintain my happiness. Having had a nervous breakdown that saw me almost sectioned and 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 check in regularly with myself to see how I am doing and whether I need to step up my efforts.

Here are 10 ways to be happy:

1. Choosing to assume the best can make you happy.

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 the number of page likes on Single Mother Ahoy goes down, I just assume someone has deelted their Facebook. 

It takes a bit of effort, but you can train yourself to flip any negative that comes your way, as much as possible. It does help you to feel happier.

2. Looking for the best in others makes you happy.

Similarly to the previous point, you can make yourself feel happy by making an effort to find something nice – or at least agreeable – in other people. Even if someone really irritates you, 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 can end up only seeing the negative traits of everyone around you. That can become very isolating.

3. Allowing yourself to feel your feelings can help you to be happier.

I wrote a previous post about allowing children to cry. The thing is, that does not apply only to children.  I am sure that an inability to effectively feel and express my feelings and emotions is what led me to have a nervous breakdown. Burying, ignoring or hidign 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 feel more happy in the long run. Yes, I know it sounds counterintuitive but it’s a thing.

4. Knowing yourself can help you to be more happy.

So often we avoid looking too closely at ourselves, thinking it would just make us even more miserable to pay too much attention to ourselves. But just like looking at the map in a theem park, you need that big, red “you are here” arrow in order to plot a course for 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. Keeping to a routine can help you to maintain mental health.

People think I’m bonkers with this, but I go to bed and get up at around the same time every day. Most nights I am in bed by 9 or 10, and in the mornings I am up between 5 and 6. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later – but never by much. Even when S was very small and I didn’t have to work and S didn’t have to go to nursery, we were still up around 6 each morning. It helps a great deal to have a routine, not only with one’s mental health but also getting up and going to bed a the same time 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 rubbish afterwards.

6. Avoiding negative people can help you to be happy.

We all know people who are negative and drag us down, always look on th edark 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 a negative person like the plague unless you are feeling impervious. Negativity is very catching and even more exhausting.

7. Meditation can help you to be happy.

I’ve written before about my meditation practice and how it helps me to stay calm and on an even keel.  Meditation doesn’t solve all of your problems, but it can help you to be better able to cope with problems – new and old.

8. Fish oil capsules can help to maintain your mood.

In all honesty, I make sure I stock up on these before buying food for myself. I am sure that my intake of fish oils is what dragged me out of the bog 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 I am convinced they are what stops me from going back to that bog.

9. Gratitude can make you happy

No matter how bad things get, there is still something to be grateful for.  Creating a daily gratitude list can be really helpful; it sounds silly and a lot of people resist it for fear of being considered simple or unaware or some such. Sometimes it is a struggle to think of something I’m grateful for if I’ve had a bad day, but studies have shown that we can actually train our brains to always look for the positive rather than the negaive in a situation, and this can help to make us happier people. And it’s free, so really there’s no reason not to at least try it for a while.

10. Letting things go can make you happier

Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and 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 complain about how things haven’t gone the way you had planned but realistically, complaining makes no difference. Perhaps you feel it’s someone else’s fault you’re having a hard time, and that may ywell be – but how you deal with it is your own responsibility. Let go of your idea of how it was supposed to be, and deal with how it is. You’ll be happier.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Terry Tyler · 14/06/2015 at 09:21

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

    Vicky Charles · 14/06/2015 at 12:05

    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 · 14/06/2015 at 14:44

The sleep tip is something I try to do but not something I’ve ever achieved.

Lizzie Dripping

    Vicky Charles · 14/06/2015 at 14:57

    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 · 14/06/2015 at 16:24

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

    Vicky Charles · 15/06/2015 at 09:20

    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 · 14/06/2015 at 19:51

These are excellent tips and things we should all try and remember x

Josie · 14/06/2015 at 19:53

This is actually incredible. And so what I needed to read today. Thank you x

    Vicky Charles · 15/06/2015 at 09:18

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

Jade · 14/06/2015 at 22:51

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.

    Vicky Charles · 15/06/2015 at 09:17

    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 · 19/06/2015 at 15:59

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

    Vicky Charles · 19/06/2015 at 23:00

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

Savannah · 03/02/2016 at 10:34

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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