At Stylist Live 2017, a panel of women discussed how to be happy – and revealed the everyday things they do to feel content.
Are you happy? It’s a question we constantly ask ourselves, or find ourselves being asked by others. There may not be a magic formula for finding happiness, but it seems to be that emotional wellbeing and good physical health are intrinsically linked; in fact, studies have shown that happiness improves health and lengthens life.
Which is probably why internet searches associated with happiness have tripled since 1998, companies have appointed chief happiness officers and the European Commission is even considering the feasibility of using happiness statistics – or a ‘wellbeing index’ – to replace GDP figures as a means of measuring a country’s success.
And finding contentedness is a lot simpler than we might think. At this year’s Stylist Live we welcomed nutritionist, naturopath and CEO of Psycle Rhian Stephenson, one half of infamous foodie sister duo Hemsley + Hemsley – and author of the upcoming book, Eat Happy – Melissa Hemsley and ardent mental health ambassador, author and Heads Together charity partner, Bryony Gordon to take to the stage to share their tips on feeling good.
1. Keep yourself active
From walking for half an hour a day to playing netball with some friends, taking some time out to breathe and reboot with some exercise really can be the best thing.
“Fitness is the only thing that makes me switch off,” explains Psycle’s Stephenson. “Half an hour of exercise can make you happy for 10 hours.”
Studies have shown that people who don’t exercise are at 75% higher risk of developing depression than those who exercise regularly.
While Gordon ran a marathon this year, you don’t have to go all out – do as Hemsley does and simply “go outside and talk a walk.”
2. Limit your social media time
How many times have you seen a friend post something on social media and, while feeling happy or admiring of them, instantly felt like a failure yourself? Perhaps they got a promotion, or bought a house, and you thought: “I’m nowhere near achieving that?” Social media is a wonderful communicative tool, but it does also have its downside; as much as it’s great to be able to instantly see what the people around us are doing and achieving, it can also leave us feeling, well, not good enough.
“I like Instagram a lot but it’s not real,” explains Gordon. “You’re trying to edit yourself. Essentially, you’re endlessly criticising yourself.”
We’ve become so fixated on finding happiness that it can sometimes feel like a competition as we all race to “live our best lives” – which is why Gordon deliberately shares posts of her “shaking her belly” and “shaving her moustache”.
3. Share your story
“I’ve really had to understand that you have to be OKwith yourself,” explains Gordon.
Talking about your struggles, your failings and your flaws is crucial to finding out what’s important to you in life – something which Gordon, an ardent mental health ambassador, is an enthusiastic advocate for.
“Talk about your unhappiness, share stories and work it out together.”
4. Make a daily list
As much as some of us may love to moan and groan, we’ve probably also got a lot to be thankful for.
Which is why, only a few months ago, Gordon started writing a daily list of everything she was truly thankful for – and whether it sounds like your kind of thing or not, she for one is adamant it’s a useful tool. And the list doesn’t have to be full of huge blessings and achievements, either.
“I make a gratitude list with my daughter every night before bed,” Gordon explains. From small things such as “bumping into a friend at Stylist Live” to having a “good day at work”, it can help you feel more positive as you end the day.
5. Help other people
When was the last time you stopped and helped another person? If you genuinely can’t remember, then it’s been too long.
Hemsley believes “doing something for someone else” is crucial to your own wellbeing, too. From “making a double portion of soup to share with your neighbour” to “giving back to charity”, it’s important to share the love.
Images: iStock / Instagram