9 things that help to keep me happy

Yesterday’s hormone whirlwind continued unabated this morning, to the point where I was beginning to annoy myself. You know when you’re walking along the street, and everything really is fine, but you have to tip your head back and blink really hard to stop the silent tears just sort of spilling out on to your face?

No, me neither, *coughs*, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

So I got to work, and made a cup of tea, and then my office buddy arrived and made the mistake of asking how I was, so I cried for a bit and made some squeaky noises and he was very comforting/horrified looking in equal measure, and then I drank my tea and felt a bit better.

(Sorry Paul.)

Then at about ten to eleven I had to go out. I was giving a talk to some foundation degree marketing students at my local college about social media, and had managed yesterday to put some slides together, so I put on my new bright yellow mac – the one I bought yesterday to cheer myself up that makes me look like a deep sea fisherman – and off I went.

yellow coat fisherman

I’m not on the boat – it’s not a sea college – it’s for illustrative purposes only

The talk went really well, and lots of people laughed, which is all I look for when I’m presenting. Possibly the wrong attitude, but there you go. I felt a lot more positive walking back to my office, and I berated myself for having been dreading it, and for having thought about chickening out, because I really enjoy it once I’m standing up there in front of people. It was much better for me than sitting at my desk feeling sorry for myself.

It inspired me to think up some other things that make me feel happier and more relaxed. I think it’s useful to have a list like this of your own, so that even when you’re feeling in a proper grump, and don’t really want to cheer yourself up, you can do something practical.

Here are some of mine:

  • Public speaking – I appreciate that you can’t just say to yourself ‘I feel sad, I’m going to do a spot of public speaking’, but it’s a reminder to me that I should always say yes when asked, and not worry about it beforehand.
  • Reading – this is a massive one for me as it totally changes the speed of my thoughts and distracts me. When I was properly sad a couple of years ago, and literally could not stop crying, I would read The Hardy Boys mysteries as an alternative to breathing into a paper bag. It wasn’t a long term solution, (what is?), but for that moment, you feel that little bit more able to cope. Recently, in a moment where I had that physically sick feeling you get when you feel really anxious about something, I made myself pick up a book and concentrate, and I could feel the nausea disappear within minutes. I put down the book and it came back, started reading again and it went. Magic.
  • Talking to other people – it’s good to talk. About anything, not just how you’re feeling.
  • Being around other people – I had book group last night and although I never really feel like going out in the evenings when it’s cold and dark I was so glad I did, as I found it really grounding, just being in a room with other people, chatting about normal things.
  • Browsing in bookshops – I guess this one is partly about the reading, as I do like to sit down sometimes, but the very presence of books can be relaxing.
  • Watching films – ideally at the cinema. When I’m watching a film at the cinema I don’t think about anything else. I can remember taking Belle to the cinema once when I was feeling really horrid, and being desperate to get there, in a panic to arrive, so that we could go inside, knowing that for a couple of hours everything would feel softer.
  • Writing – I’m doing it now see? I find it helps to focus my thoughts, and to slow them down, because I can only then think as fast as I can write, and it forces you to change down gears.
  • Going outside – a change of scene always helps me. It gives some perspective, and makes you feel a little bit smaller and less like your brain is the centre of the world. Being outside makes me more aware of myself physically too, which I think is a good thing.
  • Walking – especially if there is some rhythmic arm swinging involved. 

What things distract you or cheer you up when you’re feeling sad, cross or worried?

Photo – Owen J Fitzpatrick/shutterstock



  1. 13 January, 2016 / 10:36 pm

    At night before bed I use audiobooks to help focus my thoughts on what I am hearing instead of what happened today, or what I need to do tomorrow etc. During the day though if I am having a bad day for whatever reason, I like to put on a foreign language thriller or film lol I think it is the same thing as reading where I know I have to concentrate on the words or I will miss what is going on……….for some reason it does help :)

    • Jo Middleton
      18 January, 2016 / 8:02 pm

      I’m the same – I like listening to things to distract me. We’ve had a lot of Desert Island Discs lately!

  2. 14 January, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    This is a great list. I find many of these same things work for me also. Going outside is a big one, especially if I’ve been cooped up all day working. Reading books and writing also works for me. I find that when I start writing, I my thoughts start jumping from one thing to another and soon enough I am feeling much better.

    • Jo Middleton
      18 January, 2016 / 8:03 pm

      The going outside one is so important. We made sure this weekend that we went outside a lot, and it was really lovely, even though it was cold and drizzly. It makes you appreciate coming inside again too!

  3. 15 January, 2016 / 3:11 pm

    I could have almost duplicated your list. I’ll add browsing and then buying produce to eat whole or make a really good salad. First, the pleasure of the colors and the scents of the veggies and fruit is uplifting, and then instead of just feeling bad, I get the small satisfaction of doing something that is good for my body. On a really bad morning at the office, I might wander in to a grocer, bonus if they have a fresh salad bar, and pick up some ready to eat healthy food for lunch, instead of something like chocolate or chips, and take my time doing so.

    • Jo Middleton
      18 January, 2016 / 8:04 pm

      Yes, that’s a good one. There is something very nurturing about feeling liking you are feeding your body something wholesome – healthy body, healthy mind and all that.

  4. 16 January, 2016 / 8:15 am

    Definitely getting outside for a walk, especially if it’s a sunny day. Putting on some happy or energising music – I have a few playlists just for this.
    I’m reading a new book at the moment all about this – called ‘How to have a good day’

    • Jo Middleton
      18 January, 2016 / 8:05 pm

      That sounds like a good book – I’ll have to investigate that one. I do love that sort of thing.

  5. 17 January, 2016 / 10:43 pm

    Cooking is what I do to cheer myself up. Either ridiculously sticky sweet things or hugely complicated savoury dishes. Food that requires a lot of concentration to get right. GG

    • Jo Middleton
      18 January, 2016 / 8:07 pm

      That’s a good one, I’d not really thought of cooking, but you’re right, if you pick the right recipe and get into it, it can definitely take you away from your thoughts.

  6. 27 January, 2016 / 9:26 am

    Snap! I did a bit of a blog on this, as I’ve been frustrating the hell out of myself by focussing waaaay too much on where I want my writing to go (I won’t get started – haha)! Then I suddenly remembered, it’s actually the little things! The big things are great to focus on, but it’s really the coffees, and the walks, and the cooking, and the wine….

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