Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

New Year, New You! Top tips on how to be happy and healthy in 2017

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

IT’S a new year … the perfect time for a fresh start.

January brings the setting of resolutions, to try to be better people, live healthier lives and generally be more happy, positive and fulfilled.

But forget the fuss of fad diets, the stress of self-help books and the muddle of makeovers. The answer to changing your life in 2017 could be as simple as the colours you choose, helping yourself eat less or, quite simply, taking a moment to breathe!

In my own quest to be an all-round amazing person in the year ahead, I caught up with the experts to get their top tips on how to be happy in 2017.


Karen Haller
Colour psychology specialist Karen Haller

A quick peek in my wardrobe will reveal my favourite colour. Almost everything in there is black – or a lighter shade of black. Even my pyjamas are dark grey!

It’s a safe, versatile colour that never goes out of fashion. It’s easy to match, blend in spills (and sticky handprints from my toddler) and, of course, let’s not forget its remarkable slimming qualities. Everyone instantly loses a few pounds when they’re dressed in black!

But when I spoke with colour psychology specialist Karen Haller, she pointed out that colours were actually a powerful tool that could influence our behaviour and mood.

Who knew that seeing red, feeling blue and being green with envy were more than just figures of speech?

“Colours are an important part of our lives, from the minute we wake up in the morning,” explained Karen.

“When you make that first cup of tea or coffee and it has to be the right colour, to the top on the carton of milk which tells you whether it’s full fat or skimmed, to knowing which toothbrush is yours … it’s all about colour.

“Every single thing we do involves making colour choices – but we’re only 20% aware of this because most of it’s done on a subconscious level.

“With clothes, we often pick colours based on how we are feeling or how we want to be perceived.

“Quite often, when women go into their wardrobes and say they have nothing to wear, they’re usually saying they don’t have anything in a colour that reflects their mood.

“Colour is very interesting because, although in essence it’s just a wavelength of light, we do so much with it.”

Perhaps I need to make 2017 my year to shop for a splash of colour. Karen says it influences our behaviour in different contexts.

So, for example, if you wear orange for a workout, it increases oxygen supply to the brain. I’ll bear that one in mind when my new gym membership kicks in on the 5th.

Painting your home or office blue or green can promote a calm, stress-free environment (as I struggle to find time for a cup of tea at home, I reckon I’ll have to get the decorators in!).

And if you’re a man looking for love, apparently wearing blue on a date will bring success because it promotes the idea that you’re stable. For women, ditch the little black dress and choose passionate red instead for best results.

If a little splash here and there is the key to a sparkling 2017, maybe I’ll take Karen’s advice, stop playing it safe and find my colourful personality this year.

Stress-free Weight Loss

As a mum, I’m always busy so getting to the gym or even getting round to healthier eating can be tricky.

When I do eventually catch a minute or two of spare time, I’m so wiped out that reaching for another biscuit can seem like an effort (although, somehow, I always seem to find the energy!).

And that was before December. I seem to have lost a whole month, drowning in a sea of chocolate, crisps and gin. Hurrah for gin!

Having a slab of cheesecake for breakfast on Boxing Day was definitely a low point.

So now the festivities are over, there’s a serious need to break the bad binge-eating cycle.

New research reveals the key to slimming down could be as simple as serving up dinner portions on smaller plates and hiding snacks.

I spoke to Michael Hallsworth, director of health at the Behaviour Insights Team, which has devised the “Nudge Unit” diet.

It’s the latest regime promising simple, straightforward stone- shedding, without a fancy fruit juice or willpower workout in sight!

Michael Hallsworth
Michael Hallsworth

It is all based on the decision-making powers of the mind, training the brain to resist the temptation of eating too much.

Michael cites research from an American scientist which suggests that a whopping 20% of the calories we eat are actually “mindless” and could be cut out without us noticing.

Now this, my friends, could be the best news I’ve heard so far this year!

“We harbour an illusion about what actually influences human behaviour most of the time,” Michael said.

“Because so much of eating and other lifestyle choices is an automatic reaction, your best bet is to try to become aware of these cues and do what you can to counteract them.”

Michael suggests using a smaller plate, keeping unhealthy snacks out of sight by decluttering your kitchen and not eating while looking at food as some of the key moves to help you eat less.

You can also inspire a healthier lifestyle by shopping for food when you’re not hungry and writing a list before going to the supermarket.

“We spend a lot of money on education about eating which is important, but research shows that simple planning can alter our behaviour and choices about food and could make a big difference to our waistlines,” he said.

Sounds simple enough. (Just as well I finished the last of the Quality Street last night so the temptation is well out of sight!)

Train Your Brain To Be Happy

Camilla Sacre-Dallerup
Camilla Sacre-Dallerup

Finally, I spoke with Camilla Sacre-Dallerup who, since waltzing her way to success on Strictly, has turned her attention to life coaching.

Her top tips for a happy life in 2017 are all about positive mindset and meditation.

It all sounds a bit head-in-the-clouds to me but, as she explains, it’s not as “new age hippy” as that. It’s simply like gym for the mind. Just putting some simple thought into what we do can make us happier and healthier too.

“Take a moment to breathe,” said Camilla. “When our minds are so cluttered with all the stuff we have to do in our busy lives, there’s no clarity.

“So find three to five minutes a day just to breathe properly. If you’re connecting to your breath, it’s impossible to think of anything else. It feels like you have a moment, a bit of space in your mind for something helpful to enter.”

And try some light exercise. And not the actual gym if you don’t fancy it. I think I’m coming round to Camilla’s thought process already.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” she said.

“Instead, find 10 minutes to go for a walk, run or bike ride – or get off the bus or tube a few stops earlier and walk. Just 20 minutes’ exercise a day helps release the endorphins in our body which help us feel happier.”

And most importantly, Camilla says, don’t forget to praise yourself.

“When we go into a new year, it’s easy to think about everything we didn’t do well and want to do differently,” she explained. “Write down anything you did do well and reflect on that. That’s not being over-indulgent or too confident. It’s OK to focus on the positive.”

Finally, she advises the best way to lead a fulfilled life is to live in the moment.

“We live in a society where we’re so busy ‘doing’ that we don’t actually enjoy an experience.

“We forget to bask in that very moment. That’s a gift and we have to constantly remind ourselves to live in the now.”

Overall, some great advice which I’ll definitely be taking on board. The fact that it involves very little effort definitely has nothing to do with my enthusiasm, of course!

It might only be the first day of the year, but I already have a feeling it’s going to be great.