Monday 16 January 2017

How to beat the January blues - Italian style

The combination of the winter weather and return to work after the holidays can make anyone feeling a bit down in the dumps. That's not to mention the lack of money due to Christmas spending, and a string of already broken New Year's resolutions which might leave you feeling hopeless.

But don't despair!

Anyone who's spent time any time at all in Italy will likely comment on the friendly, relaxed and hospitable locals. It's a country where simple pleasures are key - something which is thought to be behind the huge numbers of people living past 100. There's a lot to learn from the Mediterranean way of life. So, here's how to beat the January blues - Italian style.

1. Take a passeggiata (walk)

The traditional afternoon stroll taken in Italy before dinner is a big happiness win. To make sure you get the maximum happiness-boost from your stroll – head to the park, whatever the weather. A study in 2010 by the University of Essex showed that even five minutes of light exercise carried out in a natural setting was enough to significantly enhance your mood.

2. Plan your next Italian getaway

Thinking of a trip to Italy this year? January is the time to do it. Planning holidays gives you a sense of purpose and something to look forward to. In fact, just looking at that sunny picture of an Italian seaside town is probably making you feel better. Picture yourself relaxing on the beach, reading a good book and sipping on even better wine. It might sound daft, but researchers from Holland who studied the effect of holidays on reported levels of happiness showed that people reported a greater improvement in their happiness levels when they were preparing their trip than while they were actually basking in the sun.

3. Have an aperitivo with a friend

The aperitivo: one of Italy's traditions is one that has been helping Italians beat the blues for over a hundred years. Bars across the country fill up between 6.30 and 8pm as friends head out for something to drink and a nibble. Numerous studies have shown that the key component of happiness is strong social relationships, while enjoying alcohol and snacks in moderation means you won't feel any guilt for over-indulging.

4. Take in a museum
Italy has a lot of art, a lot of history and a huge number of cultural sites, including a whopping 51 Unesco world heritage sites. Museums and art galleries help stop you dwelling on your own problems and provide you with new experiences, new points of view and fresh inspiration – all of which will make you happier.

5. Eat a pizza


 Money can't buy you happiness – but for a few euros you can get an excellent pizza. There is a definite connection between food and happiness, and with its hot, crispy base and melted cheese topping, pizza is an indulgent, calorific treat that is the perfect comfort food. Still sticking to your new year's diet and don't want to eat a pizza? Then, why not try drawing one...a study in 2013 showed that the idea of pizza and happiness were so closely connected that even the act of sketching a pizza led people to feel better about life.

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