Happiness hacks

Turn your frown upside down and you’ll feel some really amazing and unexpected benefits. Here’s how…

Happiness has so many amazing effects that we can’t actually stop smiling. For starters, research has found that the stress hormone cortisol is 23 percent lower in happy people. That’s not all - optimism could cut the risk of coronary disease by half, and being happy could help suppress pain during illness and in chronic conditions (such as arthritis). What’s more, people who feel positive about ageing live an average of 7.5 years longer than their grumpy counterparts. With those amazing benefits in mind, here are some easy ways to give yourself a bliss boost:


Indulge your inner Beyoncé

Group singing has been shown to help lift your wellbeing and health, and some data suggests it may help reduce anxiety and depression. Worried your voice sounds like a cat trapped in a vacuum cleaner? Choirs for the less vocally blessed are now popping up all over the UK (try tunelesschoir.com). We’re in.


See a play...

...visit a museum, or even go to a gig – because doing something cultural has been linked to supporting health and life satisfaction.


Chuckle to yourself

"I know it sounds odd," says laughter therapist, Lotte Mikkelsen (www.unitedmind.co.uk), "but when you wake up in the morning, immediately say 'tee-hee-hee' or 'ha-ha-ha' – have a little chuckle. Or try a giggle in the shower. The benefit? To remove the worry about the day ahead that we often wake up with. Even if you have to fake it, it’s OK, because you’ll still release those feel-good endorphins."


Wake up and say "A.R.G.!"

‘A’ is for anticipation. Looking forward to something (even if it’s just a new TV series) is a powerful happiness tool. ‘R’ is for recollection. Science bods have found looking back at the past through rose-tinted glasses helps us have a positive outlook for the future. ‘G’ is for gratitude. It helps you feel positive, deal with adversity and build strong relationships, plus it has been associated with improving health.


Laugh your way calm

Feeling pressured or overwhelmed at work? Take a few minutes to go to the loo, or somewhere private, and say out loud “hoo-hoo-hoo, ha-ha-ha”. "I’ve done this myself before an interview or an appraisal," says Lotte. "When you laugh, you release dopamine and it helps relieve stress."


Start your own gallery

No need to save for a Warhol, just display copies of your favourite personal snaps where you can look at them regularly. A study found it’ll lift your mood by 11 percent (chocolate has very little effect!). Bring memories to life by downloading the Boots app – just ping your snaps over electronically, then collect them in store in one hour.


Giggle at your frustration

"If you drive to work and are frustrated at being stuck in traffic, try saying 'ha-ha-ha-ha-ha'," says Lotte. "It’s so incongruous to your situation that pretending to laugh can often trigger genuine laughter, especially in circumstances where you’d usually be feeling annoyed!"