8 Beautiful Things You Can Do to Feel Happier
1. Enjoy the summer
It's summer soon, which in the UK means you can go to the beach, lie on the sand and not get frostbite. Trees are gorgeously green, the sun will feel warm on your skin, ice cream is widely sold, colourful flowers are in bloom, you can have a picnic or a barbecue, the days are longer, and you can take out your sunglasses (come on, everyone looks cool in shades) or buy a new bikini (or a mankini, guys). What's not to love?
2. Bathe in water
My daughter is an adorable mermaid, and I've learned to enjoy the water again thanks to her. On our recent holiday, I went swimming for the first time in decades, and it was invigorating and relaxing and calming. Lily likes pretty much every form of water, from baths to dancing in the rain. Baths, showers, swimming, dipping your toes in the sea at the beach, and even rain can be deliciously refreshing.
3. Read a book
I spent my childhood escaping into fiction. It meant I could visit different lands, meet fascinating characters and delve into their worlds without having to leave my bedroom. I could forget my worries about my dysfunctional family and the bullies at school and be swept up in the stories - and I almost always finished reading a book feeling happier than when I started it. The same often goes for seeing films and plays - anything with a thrilling story that whirls you away into another dimension.
4. Revel in creativity
I love drawing. It's not something I tell people often, because I'm not very good at it, but it's one of my favourite things to do. I also design jewellery, do origami and am a keen photographer. Even if you don't see yourself as creative, I bet you could enjoy letting your creativity run riot - whether that's by writing a short story, designing a layout for a room of your home, or sitting down with an adult colouring book. It's incredibly liberating.
5. Have a massage
Having massages is my one luxury. I love it so much that I trained in it for six months in 2013, and am now a qualified massage therapist. Some people have told me they'd be too embarrassed to have a massage, because it means getting undressed and showing your body to a stranger - but I can honestly say, as a former therapist, that I can't remember what any of my clients' bodies looked like. It's the last thing therapists focus on. It's worth getting past any embarrassment, because massage feels heavenly.
6. See your mates
Most of my friends have families now and have moved out to the suburbs or further away, so it's not always easy scheduling in time to see them. But I recently reconnected with my friend Anna, mum to two cute kids, and it's such a joy to see her and catch up, as well as reminiscing about fun times we had together in our twenties. Good friends are always worth keeping in touch with, and can make you feel a lot better about everything.
You might have seen the video I posted last week of my little girl dancing. She's just so expressive, because she loves it so much. And when you find a form of exercise you feel passionate about (for me, like Lily, it's freestyle street dance) it's not a chore and something to avoid - you can't wait to do it. My friend Sarah loves yoga, my friend Catie enjoys running, my boss plays five-a-side football. Just think of all those endorphins. Oh, and get an Apple Watch - it has revolutionised my approach to fitness.
I haven't done as much volunteering as I'd like since giving birth, because my daughter comes first. But there's something about it that's good for the soul. Giving feels good, and making other people happy makes you happier. Plus you get to meet people you'd never encounter otherwise in the course of your daily life. You can find UK volunteering opportunities here.