New ways to put a smile back on your face

Get your hands dirty

Our brains produce lower levels of serotonin, "the happiness hormone",  in winter. But new research has found that exposure to a bug called Mycobacterium vaccae that lives in the soil actually boosts serotonin levels. So get gardening. Get small plants to lighten up your living room.

Keep your house clean

People in houses with mould feel more depressed. Toxins in mould have been shown to slow down the part of the brain that deals with emotions which we could experience as depression. If you've got any mouldy areas at home, wipe them with a solution of bleach and water.

Cocoa comes handy

Eating chocolate is known to boost the levels of happy hormones in the brain. But with a bar of chocolate you get a lot more benefits besides. Chocolate contains vital omega-3 oils and stress fighting herbs.

Down with decibels

It only takes 35 decibels of unwanted background noise to lower our mood - that's how loud a mosquito buzzes. Cut background noise by closing doors between you and machinery, using double glazing and switching off anything that hums.

Sell stuff online

Every 100 rupees you gain in life boosts your happiness by 10 per cen. You'll rev things up further if you spend it on a holiday or concert tickets rather than a handbag. Spending money on things that give you an experience creates more joy than buying something purely material.

Have a bawl

Having a good old cry at a book or weepie movie sounds an odd way to cheer yourself up but it's one of the hottest get-happy trends at the moment.

Don't talk too much

Teenage girls who kept going over a problem (rather than finding a solution and acting on it) felt worse after their chat than before it. If gabbing with the girls about an issue isn't getting you any nearer to a solution, stop and do something that takes your mind off it.

Boost your alphawaves

Alphawaves are the signals your brain gives off when you're feeling relaxed. A supplement called l-theanine that's made from green tea can boost the number you produce. It takes 30-40 minutes to show effects, it's great if you're feeling anxious.

Watch your trans fats

They're not just bad for your heart and your waistline. They also trigger inflammatory reactions in the body that cause blood sugar swings and depress your mood. Avoid trans fats by eating fresh foods instead of processed food. Be aware that products are often not labelled as containing trans fats. Instead you need to look out for the words hydrogenated vegetable oil - this means that they contain trans fats.

Be snap happy

Leafing through your old photo albums will make you happier than having a drink, watching TV or listening to music. When you look at a photograph you feel the emotions felt by the person who took it and this boosts your mood. Effects are even greater if you look at pictures with friends and remember how much fun you had when they were taken.

Treat your feet

The smell most likely to get us down is whiffy feet. Combat the pong by never wearing the same pair of shoes two days on the trot. Wearing the same shoes each day transfers decomposing bacteria on to your feet. Also spritz your feet with a fungal-fighting spray.

Eat some honey

Sugary substances are known to boost serotonin levels in the brain, but research has found that honey is better than other sugars at getting results. The antioxidants it contains create other positive benefits.

Shop on the way home

People say waking up to find they have no milk makes them miserable! So stock up on the way home.

Walk a labyrinth

Spiral mazes or stone walkways are being added to health spas and hospitals around the world now that studies show that simply walking around their twists and turns decreases anxiety, stress and depression. Early evidence shows that labyrinth walking increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain and that's the part linked to relaxation.

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