5 Instant Happiness Tips For a Bad Day

Here is a list of 5 go to tips when you’re having a bad day or suffering from low mood, and why they work.

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Go outside and look at a tree
  • Think of something or someone you are thankful for
  • Check your happy list
  • Breathe more deeply

Drink a glass of water

It really is that simple. Up to almost 60% of the human body is made up of water, and according to H.H. Mitchell, (Journal of Biological Chemistry 158) the brain and heart are composed of almost 73% water.

What water is doing for you in your body:-

  • Required for the manufacture of hormones & neurotransmitters
  • Regulates body temperature (sweating & respiration)
  • Forms Saliva
  • Keeps mucosal membraines moist
  • Allows your cells to grow and reproduce
  • Flushes waste products out of the body
  • Keeps joints lubricated
  • It is the main component of most body parts
  • Helps deliver oxygen throughout the body
  • Acts as a shock absorber for your brain and spinal cord
  • Helps convert food to components needed in the body to survive.

As the water composition is high in our brains, and it is needed to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters. Its easy to see the correlation between water and mood. Its worth seriously considering the daily requirements of our bodies (in general 3 litres for an adult male & 2.2 litres for an adult female).

There is also further evidence as to why a glass of water will effect mood. In Dean Burnett’s fascinating book The Happy Brain, (can be purchased through amazon here) he explains how we are able to do lots of things without thinking, its called habituation. We stop noticing things we do all the time because they are not biological relevant. It means we stop responding to things that have no biological consequence. Pain for example is something the brain must respond to as it means damage has occurred, this is biologically relevant, and so can’t be ignored.

If the habit is an important one to the brain, if there are positive, beneficial things, this activates the reward pathway, meaning we experience some sort of pleasure whenever we encounter them. A glass of water when we are hot or after exercise is like the elixir of life. You may be experiencing low mood because you could do with topping up your bodies water supply. Either way, whether low on water or just drinking water as part of your daily consumption you are likely to improve your happiness level.


US Geological Survey

Journal of Biological Chemistry 158

Go outside and look at a tree

There are numerous studies that going outside even in the garden or outside your front door for 15 mins to absorb nature, has great health benefits.

Forest bathing has now become a recognised relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan. A forest bathing trip involves a visit to a forest field for the purpose of relaxation and recreation to breath in the wood essential oils which are antimicrobial. In other words a natural way of killing off or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms.

Roger S Ulrich’ study that a hospital room’s view of nature/garden particularly a relaxing landscape can make a positive difference in recovery after surgery.

So if you are able to go outside and sit and look at a tree or walk through park, copse or forest, then do so, and help it lift your mood. Nature in general has a therapeutic effect on us, the repetitive effect of the patterns throughout nature are healing. If you are unable to get to a park or forest, Just spending some time looking at flower’s or trees in your garden or even an indoor plant can help.

Think of something or someone you are thankful for

If you want to be happy being thankful and focusing on what you do have and not on what you don’t goes a long way. Even on a really bad day, there is usually something you can find to be thankful for however small…. I’m thankful I made it to work on time! I’m thankful it’s not raining! I’m thankful it is raining saves me from watering the garden! It really can be just a point of view/perspective and sometimes we all need a dose of perspective.

Although we all have moments of wanting to wallow in self-pity mentally strong people tend to swap self-pity for gratitude. Just taking a moment to be thankful of various items, events or people, quietly in your head, can make a huge difference. Really taking it on board and perhaps keeping a gratitude diary can be life changing.

We all like to be appreciated, a simple acknowledgement and ‘Thank you’, can go a long way to help both ourselves and the recipient. The book, Thank You Power by Deborah Norville is an enjoyable read, full of stories and the science of gratitude and how you can bring more of it into your life.

After reading it several years ago I immediately benefited from starting a gratitude journal, which I still utilise. A few months after my father died I purchased a pretty notebook and pen for my mother as we were going into winter, and I new the nights would feel long and the bereavement was still raw. I explained the process and she started to do it. She was surprised by the benefits. She doesn’t write in it every day now, but she still writes an entry as and when she wants to, and certainly returns to it when she feels a little low. She says she quite likes re-reading her entries.

There is so much happening around us that we just take for granted. Just stopping for a moment and being thankful for these things, can not only instantly improve our mood, Deborah argues it can even unlock our full potential. There is now more research in the field of Positive Psychology and worth having a look.

Thank You Power, can be purchased via Amazon by clicking on the image above. You can also receive the audio version free from Amazon through trialling Audible click here

The links below enable you to shop supporting the book shops local to you via Bookshop. org. (Currently UK and US only).

For UK bookshop.org click here

For US bookshop.org click here

The link between money and happiness is an interesting one and touched on by Deborah in her book. A recent study by Purdue University found that the income point for emotional well-being was $75000 (UK currently just under £57000) once over this amount the correlation between greater income improving happiness no longer applies.

Worth thinking about if your striving hard expecting to be happy when you reach a certain income range or purchase a particular item???

In my article Less is more – my own story tells the story of us finding that revelation!

Check Your Happy List

I listened to a podcast interview between Anthony Ongaro (Break The Twitch) & Sarah Von Bargen (Yes&Yes) called Align Money and Happy with Sarah Von Bargen. It was a great podcast with much within it. One of things I took away and put into practice, which was so simple but effective, was to create a happy list on my phone. You could have a paper list in a notebook, but as most people have phones, usually carry them with them and access can be needed when you least expect it, its worth just jotting in the notepad app. Nothing fancy required.

Basically when you are experiencing happiness from whatever you are doing you just write it down. Simple yes? This basically helps you start making a list of all those things you love to do and then to start aligning those things with how you are spending your time. There can be a difference as well with what you think makes you happy, and what actually makes you happy, when you have a sense of that joy, peace and/or happiness, it’s good to take notice, to pop it down, so that you can include more of it in your life.

Some of the things that I realised made me happy were the following:-

  • Sitting having a cup of tea in the garden and stroking and petting our pets which usually come up for attention.
  • Pottering around the garden a glass of wine in one hand and a pair of secateurs in the other checking my plants and produce.
  • Enjoying a nice meal with the family at home followed by a game or family film.
  • Hanging out the washing…yes bazaar!! Not when I’m in a rush and throwing it out before I dash out of the door to work, but outside, taking my time, watching my nice clean washing blowing in the breeze. I suspect it’s actually about being present.

By creating a list like this, not only can you perhaps start to incorporate some of it into your day/week. If you are having a low day, check it. When was the last time you incorporated something from it? Could you do something off the list now?? Having a list of big and small things, can also remind you of what you can be thankful for, looping back to that gratitude, another benefit!

Katie’s Post on how to create a list in Find the good everyday if you need some ideas, she has an extensive lists of how to create one, which also link into goals. I have tended to keep my list smaller and perhaps more everyday. I didn’t bother thinking so much about what I thought made me happy, I just started noticing things and writing them down when I did have those joy filled moments.

Breathe More Deeply

There is much written about breathing and its health benefits. But why should breathing effect happiness? and how does it?

We take on average 20 000 breaths a day. Most of the time we don’t even think about it too much. Whether we breath deeply or shallow, our brain takes 20% of the oxygen we breath because it is processing everything that is happening in the body. It is therefore important to make the most of every breath. This is why when breathing is compromised, you may notice your inability to think clearly.

Many action films show that correlation where the hero or heroin is trying to get out of somewhere and running out of oxygen, they then start to make mistakes and everything is harder, they may not be able to save the situation.

Many of us most of the time are shallow breathing or chest breathing, rather than breathing more deeply into our belly. Unless practising deeper breathing on a regular basis, it takes a level of attention to deeper breath. The attention we are giving to your breath means that you are more in the present, and if you are in the present you are being more attentive to the now, to how you are breathing and therefore likely to be happier and more at peace!

Emotions effect the body, when you are happy for instance the sides of your mouth turn up automatically and the edges of the eyes crinkle in a characteristic expression. When you are feeling calm and safe your breathing will automatically slow down. Likewise if you are worried or stressed, frightened or in pain, your breathing will speed up and become shallower.

However the reverse is also true in terms of the physical affecting the emotional. When you smile – the brain reacts to that facial movement and you experience more pleasant reactions. Breathing in particular has a special power over the mind. Every relaxation, calming or meditation technique relies on breathing showing it to be the lowest common denominator of all approaches to calm the body and mind.

Simple Breathing Technique For Relaxation

  • Sit, stand or lie somewhere safe & comfortable where you can relax. (Feet should be hip width apart and flat to the floor if standing or sitting)
  • Allow your breath to flow deeply into your belly as you can without forcing it.
  • Try and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth if you can.
  • It can be helpful to count steadily from 1-5 whilst breathing in, (you may not be able to reach 5 to begin with).
  • You do not need to hold your breath or pause before breathing out again to the count of 5 if you find it helpful.
  • Repeat for approximately 3-5 minutes.

This calming breathing technique can be particularly helpful if stressed, but the most benefit is gained from doing it regularly and making it part of your daily routine.

For further information and sources please see the links below:-




Happy Brain, can be purchased via Amazon by clicking on the image above.

The links below enable you to shop supporting the book shops local to you via Bookshop. org. (Currently UK and US only).

For UK bookshop.org click here

For US bookshop.org click here

Putting It Into Practice

Like with most things, you get better at things with practice. Habits generally take a good 30 days to stick. To make something a habit you need to be doing it regularly, to be doing something regularly you will gain more success if you are able to include it easily into your daily life. Habit tracking is a useful tool helping you stick to helpful habits. It can be as simple as creating a checklist via a list/graph. I tend to include one in my bullet journal. However there are also plenty of habit tracking apps you can pick up via Google Play Store on a smart phone or computer.

I now include even if only for 10 minutes (weather permitting) sitting outside with my cup of tea in the morning, looking at the trees in my garden, deep breathing and as my pets usually come up, giving them a fuss. I’m thankful for them, even if I then have to go and pick up their poo! This helps me start with a gentle positive happy day, even if things change later.

Most days I am walking our dogs although this is shared as well within the family, again I try and include a forest walk at least once during the week, sometimes we make it a family walk. I make a point as I am walking through of deep breathing that lovely wood smell and those essential oils! I keep a refillable water bottle with me all the time, which helps remind me to keep my water levels topped up, and at night although not every night, I write in my gratitude journal or count my blessings as I go to sleep, as I experience things which make me happy I add them to my list.

I do hope you find this helpful, and good luck with perhaps trying out some of the things suggested.

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