Mental happiness isn’t a physical thing, it’s not an object or a possession. It’s not something that’s solid and static. It’s ever-changing and evolving and needs constantly topping up to remain ‘full’ or at its highest potential. I like to think of my mental wellbeing like a bucket (of course, one with sparkles and brightly coloured paint, not one of those old, rickety one’s forgotten at the end of the garden). It’s a bucket with a very tiny hole in it, that sometimes get knocked and things spill out of it. I need to make sure I’m topping up my bucket regularly to counteract the spills and the losses through the hole.
Okay, perhaps a bit of an elaborate metaphor, but it works for me. So, you may be asking what it mental happiness?
What is Mental Happiness?
Good question. For some, it may be obvious, but we don’t always think of mental happiness in the same way. Sarah Steward-Brown, the profession of public health at the University of Warwick, and also a wellbeing expert, describes it as feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence, self-esteem and self-confidence. She also clarifies that good mental well-being doesn’t mean not experiencing situations or feelings that you find difficult. A good thing to note. But it does mean being able to feel more resilient against times that are tougher than usual.
So, how do you gain mental wellbeing? And how do you keep it topped up when you have it? Mental happiness is easier to keep ‘topped-up’ if you do it regularly. Doing even minor happiness or playful practices every week help keeps me balanced. I find that doing very little things regularly, such as going for a walk, doing a jigsaw puzzle, cooking, drawing, writing, or doing anything creative, makes me feel good. But it’s also very personal. I would recommend finding what makes you feel good. So, talking from experience, I want to share with you the little things I do to help keep me topped-up.
Ten Top Tips to Keep your Mental Happiness topped-up (or what works for me)
- Keep a diary – I keep I diary which I try to write in most days. I either write about what’s on my mind that day or try and make a list of something I feel positive about or what I’m grateful for. The simple act of writing it down gives me time to reflect and so does looking through my notes from the previous days.
- Give yourself something to look forward to – whether it’s a drink with friends, a phone call with someone you love or even a holiday, having something to look forward to can boost your happiness for a long time.
- Connect with people – Spending time with people, friends, family, colleagues or neighbours can boost your wellbeing, especially if it’s quality time. Spend some time developing relationships.
- Do something active – Go for a walk, a cycle, a game of football in the park, or a row on the canal. I like to go for a run around my local woods. Find something that works for you, even if it’s doing a few star jumps in your house.
- Get creative – Painting, drawing, dancing, drama, writing, sculpting, cooking, crochet, I could go on. Any little thing that makes you feel creative, find the time to fit it in your life.
- Help others – Helping others can make you feel good and help to build a new social network. Even something small can help, such as smiling at a stranger, saying thank you or giving kind words. If you want to do something more, trying volunteering at your local community centre or charity.
- Get outside – Fresh air is delicious. It’s not the answer to all your problems, but it can help keep a clear head and get you some of that good vitamin D.
- Have a laugh – Find something that tickles your funny bone. Watch a stand-up comedian, read a funny book, get someone to tell you a joke. Okay, maybe not quite the joke book, many of them aren’t funny. But find something that you know you will make you laugh, even if it’s speaking to a funny friend.
- Do something you’re good at – It’s a good way to relax, enjoy yourself and build a sense of achievement.
- Do anything you enjoy – Anything. Really. Just figure out what lifts your spirit and make time to fit that into your life regularly.
If it’s important to keep your mental well-being topped-up, it’s just as important to take note of when your well-being is running low. Having self-awareness can help with this and one way to achieve this is through mindfulness meditation, which I tried here. The symptoms of your mental happiness running low will be different for everyone, but here are a few things that I take note of to monitor when my mental happiness needs topping up.
How to Tell When your Mental Happiness Needs Topping up?
- You feel foggy headed – I know that when I find it hard to think straight to finish a sentence or solve a problem I need topping up.
- You feel lethargic – When my eyelids feel heavy and I’m craving a warm blanket and a night in, I know it’s time to pause and be kind to myself.
- You feel irritable – If I find myself wanting to snap at people for no reason, or getting annoyed at silly little things like that slow person on the pavement, I need to take a step back.
- You crave some time off – If you’re finding yourself easily distracting from work tasks and more tempted towards watching that exciting TV episode, it’s probably time you listened to your body and gave yourself a break.
- You can’t sleep – If your mind is too busy at night to let you sleep, you’re probably overdoing it.
So there you have it, my top tips for keeping your mental happiness topped up and noticing when it needs refreshing. Remember, these are very personal to me, so it might be different what works for you. Why don’t you try and see what works for you?