Happiness Hack #1: Buy flowers for yourself for no reason

A love of flowers is in my blood. The first flat I lived in as a baby was above the flower shop that my mum owned in Clapham. She no longer runs a shop but works part-time in one and even wrote a series of illustrated books about flowers. Whenever I go into a florist’s I take a deep breath of the smell of blooms and wherever I am, my mum is suddenly with me.

But I never used to think to treat myself to flowers. It seemed too extravagant, reserved for gifts for other people rather than something to indulge in myself. Over recent years that has changed though and my life is so much brighter because of it. I now regularly buy myself flowers for no reason at all. Whether simple supermarket tulips or narcissi, or more unusual blooms bought from my local florist or Columbia Road Flower market, a bunch on my dining room table or in my office is guaranteed to cheer me up.

A reason I’d avoided buying flowers in the past was the temporary nature of them. What’s the point in spending money on something that is only going to die in a week’s time? But now that’s one of the things I love about them. Flowers remind me to live in the moment. Yes, the stems will droop and the petals will curl at the edges then fall, but aren’t they beautiful right now? The same attitude can be applied to so many other moments in life: it makes me a lot happier to try and treasure joyful moments than to mourn the fact they are only moments. And after all, what is life if not a collection of moments?

My favourite flowers

‘Miss Piggy’ roses

  • Rununculous (also called ‘turban buttercups’)
  • Sunflowers
  • Daisies
  • Peonies

What are your favourite flowers?

Six ways to beat the autumn / winter blues

How to beat the autumn / winter blues

Every October I find myself sinking into the autumn blues. At the end of September I sense it coming; a grey cloud over the hill, a muddy puddle to trip into at the next step. My energy fades with the dying light and all I want to do is hide in my bed, curled up like a mouse.

This year is no different. But I’m doing my best to shake off the blues.

1) Get outside

Being outdoors and being active is the best kind of medicine. It feels like there is magic in the waters when I swim (wrapped up in my wetsuit) and in the trees above me when I walk. I take deep breaths of air and I feel the blues get blown away on the breeze like they are no heavier than feathers.

2) Or bring the outside inside

Fresh flowers on the table, autumn leaves pinned to my noticeboard. Following outdoorsy people on instagram. Putting up pictures of nature – places I’ve been, places to go. There are ways to bring the outside inside, even when it is dark and cold beyond the window.

3) Cups of tea

There is nothing quite like the sound of tea being poured from a pot into your favourite mug and watching the steam rise as the cup fills. Wrapping my hands around a mug of freshly brewed tea I feel safe and calm.

Fresh mint from my balcony, with a dribble of honey. The apple and cinammon teabags I first tried on a pottery-making workshop in an atelier in Montmartre (the smell of cinammon makes me think of Paris and wet clay). Green matcha tea – because the packet tells me it will ‘restore magical powers’.

4) Plan for the summer

I recently bought a 2017 calendar with the sole purpose of planning adventures for next year to look forward to during the winter. I flick through the pages to remind myself of all the possibilities – empty pages to be filled, sunny days to be enjoyed.

5) Lunchtime walks (or runs)

It seems unfair that the only daylight hours we get during the winter are spent at work. I’m trying to combat that by heading out for some fresh air on my lunchbreaks, either for a walk or run. Last week I ran from my office to the top of Primrose Hill. Standing at the top I felt like a superhero. I looked down at the park, painted shades of autumn, at the zoo, busy with families, and across at the buildings making a scruffy horizon. I am not a runner, but my very slow plod up the hill felt like my mountain. And it felt good to be at the top.

6) Make the most of the season

What does winter have that summer doesn’t? My favourite knitwear, unfolded and taken out of hiding. Scarves that feel like hugs and remind me of my mum. Slippers. The warm, orange glow of candles that smell of birthdays when they are blown out. Hot water bottles. The ‘winter duvet’ that feels like a giant marshmallow. Mince pies. Warming my bum against the radiator. The smell of wood-smoke from the boats on the canal. Pumpkins with smiley faces. Wellington boots with frog faces. Frosty cobwebs. And a grey sort of sadness. But also an opportunity to be kind to myself, to find big joy in the smallest things, and to spend time focusing on making myself happy.

How do you shake off the autumn / winter blues? Add your tips in the comments below