Try this trick to feel happier

Try this one little trick to feel happier

Do you ever have those days where nothing’s really wrong but you just feel a bit down?

Those days where you sort of mope around and just generally feel a bit ‘meh’.

On those kinds of days there is something really simple that you can do to make yourself feel happier.  It might sound a bit backwards but, thanks to a funny bit of psychology, it really does work.

Try this one little trick to feel happier


All you have to do is smile.

Even if you really don’t feel like it.  Just start smiling.

The physical act of smiling tricks our brains into thinking that we’re happy.  Our brain reasons that if we’re smiling we must be happy.  Otherwise why would we be smiling?


This all happens subconsciously and is mostly down to good old cognitive dissonance, which I mentioned recently in a post about winning people over.

If you’ve not head of it before, cognitive dissonance is basically where we feel uneasy when our thoughts are inconsistent with our behaviour.  So if we feel sad but we’re smiling, it’s a bit jarring on a subconscious level.

Our brains decide that if we’re smiling, we must actually be happy, so we then start to genuinely feel that way.


When we smile, even if it’s fake to start with, our brains release lovely feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin which all help to make us feel happier and less stressed.  So then we smile more and this wonderful happy cycle begins.


Next time you’re having ‘one of those days’, try putting a big fake smile on your face and see if it helps.

If you want to you can go one step further and find something that will put a genuine smile on your face.  Watch an old episode of Friends (or the bloopers on YouTube, they always crack me up).  Phone a friend who you always end up giggling with.  Do something, anything, that gets a smile on your face and see how your day turns around.

try this to win people over

Try this little trick to win people over

I’m sure we’ve all had them at one point or another.  Those people in our lives who don’t actively dislike us but who we just get the feeling aren’t too keen on us.  For whatever reason they just don’t seem to have warmed to us or, almost worse in a way, are just a bit indifferent to us.

It might be a work colleague, a family member, someone in your partner’s family or friendship group, anyone.

Sometimes you can just brush it off, not worry about them and get on with your life.

Other times though, it would make life much easier if you could win this person over and get them to like you.  If you’ve got someone in your life at the moment who fits in that second category then keep reading for a little trick that might help.


Try asking them for a small favour.


Think really small.  So if it’s a work colleague, ask them if you can borrow their pen quickly.  If it’s another parent at the school gate, ask if they can hold something for you while you sort something out for your child.

You want to make it such a small favour that they can’t really say ‘no’ to it.

This also tends to work best if you actually say the words, “can you do me a quick favour?” and then make your request.


What you’ll most likely find is that they’ll do this one small favour for you and then, thanks to a little thing called cognitive dissonance, they’ll convince themselves that you’re not too bad after all.

It’s all down to the fact that we don’t like it when our feelings and our actions don’t match up.  We feel really uncomfortable if we do a favour for someone we think we don’t like.  So to stop this niggling feeling, we need to either change our actions or our feelings.

When we’ve already done a favour for someone, because it was so small we couldn’t really say no, then we end up deciding we like the person after all to stop these feelings of conflict.


This is also known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect.

Apparently Franklin once won over a rival after asking if he could borrow a book of his, then returning it with a kind note of thanks.  The next time they saw each other the rival was much more civil towards him, helped him out and the two men ended up being friends.

Franklin himself wrote, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged”.

This theory has been proved in various studies since.

We are more likely to end up liking someone, and helping them out in the future, if we do them a small favour, than if they do us a favour.


So next time you want to win over someone who you think is unsure about you, try asking them for a small favour.

Ask the mum at playgroup who seems a bit standoffish if she can watch your cup of tea while you change your baby.

Ask you colleague if they can forward the minutes from a meeting to you.

Ask your mother-in-law if she can give you the recipe for a meal she made.


Whoever it is you want to win over, think of a little favour you can ask of them, and then see if it helps to change the way they think about you and act towards you.  You should find that they act more warmly towards you next time you see them (especially if you greet them with a subtle eyebrow-flash!).

Try this to help get to sleep

Try this one little trick when you can’t get to sleep

Do you ever have those nights when you just can’t seem to fall asleep?

You toss and turn, flip your pillow, try all sorts of sleeping positions but still can’t seem to drift off.  If this sounds familiar there might be something you can try, that sounds a bit silly but has shown in various studies to be effective in helping people get to sleep.


Try sticking one foot out from underneath the covers.


See I told you it sounds a bit silly, and almost too simple to work, but there is some pretty solid science behind this little trick.

It all comes down to the fact that we sleep better when we’re cooler.

Our body temperature naturally falls by a degree or two before we go to sleep, and then falls again while we’re sleeping.  This decrease in temperature acts as a sort of prompt for other systems in our body to fire up and prepare us for sleep.

So when we’re too warm, possibly from snuggling down under the duvet, we find it harder to get to sleep.

It’s a delicate balance though, so often kicking the entire duvet off makes us feel too cold, but we’re a bit too warm with it completely covering us.  Sticking just one foot out of the covers seems to be enough to help reduce our body temperature the right amount to encourage sleep.


The theory is that sticking out a foot is more effective than just pulling the covers down a bit because our feet lose heat more quickly.

This is because our feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomoses which dilate when we’re warm, which lets more blood reach the skin to cool us down.   So our feet are designed to lose heat and help cool us down, in a way that the main part of our bodies isn’t.  If we pull the covers down to expose our torsos we wouldn’t get the same effect, and if you’re anything like me it would feel even harder to get to sleep with out the comfort and weight of a duvet or a blanket.


So, next time you’re lying in bed struggling to get to sleep, try sticking a foot out from under the covers. 

It may just help you drift off.

Try this little trick to encourage a growth mindset

Try this little trick to encourage a growth mindset

When your child tries to do something and finds it hard, how do they respond?

If they get frustrated and stop trying, with complaints of ‘I can’t do this’, then they most likely have quite a fixed mindset.  This is basically where we believe that we’re born with a set of traits and talents and that what we can do and achieve is down to these things rather than how hard we work and how much effort we put in.

A growth mindset on the other hand is where we realise that most things can be learnt and achieved over time with effort and perseverance.  This is the sort of mindset that we want to encourage in our children, so that they grow up with this belief that they’re not limited in what they can do.  That they can do pretty much anything if they keep going, keep trying, keep learning.

Here’s one little thing you can do to help your children develop a growth mindset.

Try this little trick to encourage a growth mindset


Try using one three letter word with your child.



There is so much power in that one little word.


It takes you from “I can’t do this”, to “I can’t do this YET”.

That little word at the end of the sentence changes things so much.  Suddenly, instead of basically saying ‘this is hopeless, I can’t do it, I won’t even try any more’, we are saying ‘this is hard, but if I work at it I will be able to do it’.

Make a point of adding the word ‘yet’ on any time your child gets frustrated with something and says that they can’t do it.

Explain to them that maybe the maths problem they’re struggling with is hard for them because they haven’t learnt the best way to work out the answer yet.  Even people who are naturally good at maths need to be taught strategies and systems for getting to the right answer.  It’s all just a matter of time and figuring things out and persevering.


There are various other things we can do to help develop a growth mindset in our children.   But this little word, yet, is an amazing place to start.

Try it next time your child is struggling.

Remind them that they can’t get to the top of the climbing frame yet.

That they can’t swim breast stroke properly yet.

That they can’t tie their shoelaces yet.


Keep adding that word on to the end of the sentence, and take the time to expand on it.  Explain that while they can’t do what they’re trying to do right now, if they keep trying they will get there.

After a while this message will start to sink in and they’ll realise that if they stick with it and keep working they can do anything.

Try this simple trick to stop procrastinating

Try this simple trick to stop procrastinating

I don’t really like to admit it, but I have a bad habit of procrastinating.

If there’s something that I need to do that, for whatever reason, I don’t really want to do, I’m pretty good at distracting myself with other ‘important’ jobs.

This is a habit I’m trying to break though.  I dread to think how much time I’ve wasted over the years procrastinating instead of just cracking on with the work that needs to be done.

If you’re like me and you want to break your habit of procrastinating, and start taking action and making changes in your life, then try this really simple trick.

Try this simple trick to stop procrastinating


The next time you have something to do, count backwards from 5 and then just DO IT.


Let’s say you need to make a phone call to book your smear test.  This seems like something that most of us women have put off doing at one point or another right?

When you see the letter reminding you to book the appointment and think ‘I should book that now’, simply count down from 5 and when you get to 0 you grab the phone and dial.

Don’t give yourself enough time to come up with excuses as to why you shouldn’t do it right now.


It’s a really simple idea, but so effective in helping beat procrastination and stopping fear and excuses having time to take over and stop us from taking action.


I only came across this idea quite recently when I discovered the amazing Mel Robbins.

She’s written a whole book on it – the five second rule – that is well worth a look if you want to really get into the psychology behind this.

I watched an interview with her where she explained how powerful this rule has been for her, and so many other people since she started talking about it.


You can apply it to pretty much any area of your life.

Mel talks about how for her it started with forcing herself to get out of bed in the morning instead of hitting the snooze button on her alarm.

She had the thought that she would jump out of bed, then counted 5-4-3-2-1 and did it.  Before she had a chance to think about it and give in to the thoughts of how much cosier it would be to just stay in bed.


We can use it is so many different situations though, and the principle is always the same.

The moment you have a thought about acting on a goal of any kind, count down from 5 and then take action.  Any longer than that and you’ll start coming up with excuses and ways to procrastinate.


See the thing is, our brains are wired to protect us.  They will do whatever they can to keep us safe.  Which is lovely and all, but not all that useful when we end up reacting to ‘making a phone call’ as if it were a genuine threat to us.

If we’re not careful we analyse the situation far more than we need to.  We convince ourselves of all sorts of reasons why it’s safer for us to not make that call.  Or that now isn’t the perfect time to do it, because the children will surely interrupt us, or the washing needs to be put on the line and that’s more important right now.


The trick is to take action straight away, before we start thinking and then over-thinking.


Mel Robbins explains it like this:

“You have five seconds.  Start counting backward to yourself from five to one, then move.  If you don’t move within five seconds, your brain will kill the idea and you’ll talk yourself out of doing it.”


There is some fascinating psychology behind this that Mel goes into in more detail in her book and on her website.  But the general idea is that taking action quickly like this wakes up the prefrontal cortex.  The prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain that’s involved with things like decision making and working towards goals.

Firing up this part of our brains by taking action makes us feel more in control.

And when we feel that more parts of our lives are in our control then we’ll take more action again and again to get the things we want and achieve our goals.


The more you read into it the more complex it actually is.

But the beauty of it is that you don’t need to read more into it.  You don’t have to understand why exactly this works.  You just need to do it.

Count backwards from five, then GO.

Phrases to calm an angry child

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

One of the hardest things for children to learn is how to handle big emotions like anger.

To be fair, it can be really hard for us adults too.  I know I don’t always behave all that nicely when I’m feeling really angry or upset.  But at least as we get older we, hopefully, have learnt tools and coping mechanisms to work through these feelings.

Children though don’t have this experience yet.  They really feel these big emotions, often over things that we as parents don’t quite understand, and can find it hard to cope and to work through them.

If you’re struggling to know how to help your child when they really feel angry about something, then here are 9 different things you can try saying to them that might help.

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

1. I can see that you feel angry.

Or frustrated.  Or upset.  Or whatever word best describes the emotion that your child is expressing.

One of the first things to try is to name the emotion for them.  This helps them feel like you understand and are listening to how they’re feeling.  It also starts to make them more aware of what different emotions feel like to them.


2. Can you tell me what’s happened?

This lets you get to the root cause of their anger and gives them a chance to talk it through.  When you ask this question, make sure you really take the time to listen.  Don’t interrupt, don’t try to reason with them as they’re telling you what has made them angry.

Just let them tell you the whole story in their own time.


3. Everyone feels angry at times and that’s OK

Let your child know that anger is a valid emotion to feel.  It’s OK if they feel angry; we all do at times.

Knowing you understand how they’re feeling can really help your child feel validated in their emotions, and to feel heard by you.


4. It’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to…

…hit.  Or break things.  Or call people names.

This lets them know that the emotion is valid but that the behaviour they’re showing while they’re angry isn’t acceptable.


5. Would you like to try…

… taking some calming breaths.  Or doing a warrior cry.

Offer a suggestion of something your child can do to try and calm themselves down.  But ask them if they’d like to try it, rather than telling them that they have to do it.  Give them the choice and the control over the situation.

Don’t overwhelm them with lots of suggestions either.  Offer one or two ideas and then give them space to think it over.


6. I’m here and you’re safe

Our emotions can get all jumbled up at times, and quite often when our children feel angry they also feel scared and unsafe.  Letting them know that you’re there, by their side, and that they’re safe can go a long way to helping them feel calmer.


7. I’m going to sit over here

If your child is right in the eye of the storm then let them know that you’ll be sitting close by.  Or just in the other room.  This gives them the space to work through their anger while knowing that you’re still nearby, ready to help them when they’re ready to let you.


8. Can I help you?

When your child is angry they may well  be feeling completely out of control, so asking them if they’d like your help gives them back a sense of control.  They can decide if they want a bit of time and space or if they want you to sit with them and help them calm down.


9.  I love you

Our children need to be reminded that even when they’re angry we still love them.  We might not like the way they’re talking or acting when they’re angry, but we will always love them.  We need to be that safe place for our children where they know they’re loved no matter what.


There’s no one magic phrase that will immediately calm an angry child down.

The main thing for us as parents to remember is that, as much as possible, we need to keep calm ourselves.  If we start to get frustrated too then we won’t get anywhere.  We need to be the calm in the storm.  Easier said than done at times I know, and if you do get angry too then make sure to talk about it afterwards once you’ve both calmed down.

If you can keep calm though, and try a few of the suggestions in this post then hopefully you’ll find the magic words that work best to calm your child down.  The other thing to remember is to trust your instincts.  You know them best, you know if they need to be left alone or if they need you to hold them.

With your help and understanding they can start to learn how to handle anger and all the other big emotions that they might be feeling.


What do you find works best for you and your child when they’re angry?

Try this one little trick to make people feel at ease with you

Try this one little trick to make people feel at ease with you

If you’re anything like me then chances are you quite often feel nervous when you meet new people.

I’m better with it than I used to be, but I do still worry that I’ll say the wrong thing, or that the whole exchange will just feel really awkward.

Over the years though I have learnt that if I can try and relax and smile then that tends to make the other person feel more relaxed too.  Even if we’re kind of faking it, if we can come across as confident and comfortable then that tends to make meeting new people easier.

There are some other little psychological tricks you can use as well that can help these interactions.

Here’s an interesting little body language trick you can use to help people feel more at ease with you, even if it’s the first time you’ve met.

Try this one little trick to make people feel at ease with you (1)


When you first greet them, give them a little eyebrow-flash.

You know that little thing you do with your eyebrows when you see someone you know across the room?  That really quick raise of the eyebrows, that’s sometimes accompanied with a little head bob.

This is something we all do when we see someone we know, and we tend to do it pretty much subconsciously.

It’s a way of communicating to the person that we know each other, and that there is no threat to either of us.  There must be an evolutionary reason why this eyebrow raise has this meaning because all primates do it, not just people.  I’m not sure what that reason is though.  It might be to do with making our eyes seem bigger, which makes apparently makes us seem more submissive and less of a threat.


Whatever the reason, this eyebrow-flash is something we all do and when someone does it to us we take it as a sign that we know them and trust them.


So you can use this little trick to your advantage.

Next time you meet someone for the first time, give them a little eyebrow raise and then follow it up with a relaxed smile.  Their subconscious mind will read these cues and they’ll feel as if they’ve already built up a good rapport with you.

You might feel a bit odd doing it, but if you’re subtle with it the other person won’t even consciously notice it, but it will make them feel more at ease with you.

Give it a try next time you meet someone new.  Just don’t go over the top and end up Hermione Grangering at people or they might not feel quite so comfortable chatting to you!