Happy Place

Fearne Cotton’s 10-step guide to a happy life

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Fearne Cotton
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The presenter, host of podcast Happy Place and stylist.co.uk guest editor shares her reasons to be cheerful. 

Over the years, I’ve learned that happiness comes from three places: from self-confidence, from the relationships you build with others, and from daily discipline. Of course, we all experience moments of wild abandon and sheer spontaneity that give us huge whooshes of joy. But long-lasting and deeply-rooted happiness? That requires practice. It sounds mundane, but it’s the truth.

Below is a little list of the small things in life I do to boost my happiness levels. Some are blindingly obvious, while others are more subtle – but in my experience, a good mood is more about embracing simple strategies than getting tangled up in complicated and far-fetched plans. 

1) Write a gratitude list 

Even when I’m going through a desperate time, I try to find one or two things in my day to be thankful for – whether that’s a kind smile from a stranger, a beautiful evening sky or a warm cup of tea. Highlighting these small pluses helps me gain perspective of what’s really going on around me and stops my ever-worried brain from taking over. 

2) Breathe deeply

When I feel tense or stressed my breathing is short and chesty, which leads to all sorts of physical symptoms and also worsens my mental state and general anxiety. For an instant boost, I take big breaths from my belly: these help get me through nerve-wracking moments, and pull me back to being ‘in the now’. 

3) No booze and lots of water

Since my life was taken over by two gorgeous dawn raiders (aka my kids), I’ve barely drunk at all. I enjoy the odd tipsy wedding or a sunset G&T on holiday, but I get less out of that booze buzz now that I’m in my 30s. I’ve realised that I love socialising sober, and I adore not having hangovers.

I also drink goats’ milk kefir each day, which tastes like feet but boasts a plethora of health benefits. It’s great for your gut, and if I’m constipated or have digestion issues I feel terrible emotionally. For me, a healthy gut equals a healthy head. 

4) Reading books

One of my favourite parts of the day is slipping into bed or a bath with a great book. Factual or fiction, I love how books can pull my focus from my own worries. There’s no harm in a little escapism at the end of the day to help us unwind. 

5) Keeping my home tidy and free of excessive s**t

Warning! This one is so boring you might spontaneously fall asleep while reading it, but it’s an important one for me. I love a clear-out and adore surfaces that aren’t covered in junk. I feel such jubilation when carrying a large sack of unwanted things down to the charity shop, and relish the freedom and space that’s left behind. 

6) Being with great people

As you get older, I think you naturally lose the toxic people in your life and gravitate towards those that make you feel good. My kids and husband are my everything, so simply spending time with them is a tonic in itself. Of course being a parent can be challenging, but I try and remember to expect chaos and get on my kids’ wavelength every now and then: it’s the most grounding place to be.

7) Eating well

Over the years, I’ve learned that the more time and effort I put into my diet and food preparation, the better I feel in every way. I love to experiment with different flours to make delicious healthy treats, and going to my local health food shop to buy and experiment with new ingredients is my absolute heaven.

8) Being creative

This is a bespoke mission and one that can take many forms. Gardening, drawing, knitting, baking, writing, singing: whatever form of creativity you prefer, it will involve a little imagination and a lot of vulnerability. True creativity means stepping into the unknown and possibly offering ourselves up for judgement, so we must be open-hearted and willing to take risks. I get such a kick from drawing, painting, baking and writing: I find it very meditative. 

9) Moving my body

Regular exercise has many obvious physical benefits, but it’s also important for good mental health – and whether it’s yoga in my kitchen, a quick 5k around my local park, a bike ride with my son or a brisk walk with a mate, I need to move. We spend most of our days in our brains, worrying, analysing and dreaming, and we can forget that our bodies need kindness, love and attention too. Getting my body to run the show for a portion of my day gives my overactive brain a rest.

10) Remembering I walk in the right direction for me

Whenever I feel the pressure to be like others, tread roads that have been well-worn or follow the crowd, I feel short-changed and a bit s**t. It takes courage and confidence to forge your own path and sometimes I feel too tired to go for it, but I know in the end it’s always for the best. That doesn’t mean shunning help or not being inspired by others – it simply means following one’s gut. 

For one day only on Tuesday 27 March, Fearne Cotton has taken over stylist.co.uk and transformed it into her very own Happy Place  a digital sanctuary, focusing entirely on wellness, happiness and good mental health.

For similarly inspiring and uplifting content, check out Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place, available on Apple Podcasts now.

Main image: Getty Images