Yay - the first Monday back at work for the year (remember that bank holiday all those 7 days ago - how far back does that seem now?).  Now we have the long slog, through the real winter months, until spring arrives, the birds return, the sun rises before we go to work, and everyone stops talking about snow (that last hope of a smile or an extra day off).

So yes, January and February can be challenging months which push our happiness threshold to the maximum.  Despite this, neuroscientists have learned some (not a lot) about how the brain works.  I say some, because it is the most complicated, advanced thing we can imagine - almost sci-fi like in what it can do and re-programme itself - even physically change depending upon our thoughts!

At Serenity, we love this stuff, and work with neuroscientists to help understand a little more about ourselves and our clients.  Don't start to panic, this column is not going off into that world today (the attached article does this brilliantly though), all I am going to do, is to show you 4 ways to try to shift the mindset and improve your chances of getting through to March with a smile on your face.

1. When you feel down, worried and anxious - ask yourself - "What Am I Grateful For".  All of a sudden, we start to feel better, looking towards gratitude.

2. Label Negative Feelings - when you are well beyond just feeling a bit uurgh by labelling the emotion an not suppressing it, the emotion reduces and on you go, feeling slightly less overwhelmed about life.

3. Make a decision - when we make a decision, we feel better.  Similarly, by scheduling something in a diary rather than making a to do list, the brain lets go of the item or problem.  Something has happened, and we can move on.  No decision is quite often than a bad decision - the outcome is not the key thing frequently, but moving forward is.

4. Touch People - (careful now) we need contact, hugs - long hugs !  (and here is another tip, when hugging your child or loved one, never be the first to leave go - that can create a degree of insecurity or rejection for them).  It works, we feel secure, wanted, happier, more at ease.  Just remember the first thing a child says in the middle of the night when they have had a bad dream 'I Just want a hug'

To sum up, look for gratitude, label negative emotions, make decisions, and hug people.  Just see the difference that makes to your day.