International Day of Happiness: Ten ways to stay grateful at the moment

International Day of Happiness is on Friday 20 March. This day was founded by Jayme Illien, who works to advance the UN’s global goals and wellbeing and happiness of all life on earth. The world might feel like an uncertain and unsettling place right now, but joining in a social media-based celebration like this hashtag holiday can just be the positivity we all need.

Combine current stresses affecting our daily lives with the usual stresses of performance at University and it can sometimes feel like there’s so much more to prioritise than our health and wellbeing – but, that is the most important thing. So, we’ve compiled a list of ten quick things you can do every day from the comfort of your own home to ensure that we can keep grateful, positive and hopeful for the future.

1. Use positive affirmations 

Hunt down some Tumblr-style quotes that resonate with you. Write down the achievements you’re proud of. Pop them on post-its and stick them on your fridge, on the inside of your diary or inside your University notes, just to keep you going. It’s an instant papery pick-me-up.

2. Follow social media accounts that inspire you 

Whether that’s an influencer that spreads a positive message you identify with, a positive quotes channel or even just a pal who always radiates positivity, screenshot their favourite posts, utilise the ‘save’ feature on Instagram to capture these messages and look back on them when you need some affirmations.

3. Journal away 

Keeping a diary is a great way to get your thoughts and feelings out – whether they be positive or not. It’s a sentimental way to look back on good times and smile, and is a chance to work through any negative emotions we may be feeling that can otherwise eat away at us.

4. Write down one thing you're grateful for every day 

This could be at the start of the day - or just before you nod off to sleep at night, as a way to reflect and end the day on a peaceful note. Taking a minute to check in with yourself is a sure-fire way to help yourself feel at peace, positive and, ultimately, happy - even when things might be challenging.

5. Reflect on how challenging experiences have informed you as a person 

It’s difficult to be preached at about being ‘happy’ and ‘positive’ when you may have experienced something challenging. We are currently experiencing difficult times for myriad reasons, but humans are resilient, and all emotions are transitory. Reflecting on how past challenging periods have informed your personality and strength can bring a sense of positivity for your future.

6. Be present more 

Slowing down, drowning out the noise of life and focusing on just the here and now can be a good way to strip back life and focus on what you’re grateful for. What do you see, hear and feel right now? If things are overwhelming you at the moment, remember to take that ten-minute stroll outside for some air. Find yourself strolling the Harbourside, sit on a bench in College Green and watch the world go by for a few moments… Being present allows you to feel the tangible peacefulness of your life right now.

7. Be kind to others 

Helping other people and ensuring those you love are well greatly improves your own wellbeing, because we care deeply about those around us. Right now, there are so many hugely important initiatives to help vulnerable people within the community, such as Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK, which you can get involved in to support vulnerable people around you who need resources. It’s also hugely important for your wellbeing to become less insular and think outwardly more.

8. Try to MOVE 

Getting active increases our body’s endorphins. Exercise is known to be a mood-booster, and a release of stress. We’re all being mindful to reduce our social contact during this time but getting outside to an open space away from others for a quick exercise breather is important. Back at University, if you join our MOVE programme, you can take sport at a stress-free pace, dropping into sessions when you really need them.

9. Give back 

Do what you can to increase the overall happiness of others and our beautiful planet. Join a life-changing society, support a cause that you’re passionate about, or help fundraise by joining our RAG Team. All of this helps increase your sense of purpose and in turn, your happiness.

10. Ensure you stick to a good work-life balance 

We know this one can be hard at University, with assignments and exams hitting hard. But ensuring you take regular breaks throughout the working day, and after big assignments are handed in, is imperative. Schedule in a Netflix-binge; cosy up for a game night with those you live with. Burning out isn’t fun - but looking after your wellbeing is.

Your Students’ Union and UWE Bristol are here for you. If you’re struggling, please reach out. Contact our Advice Centre by phone (0117 32 82676) or email ( You can also visit UWE Bristol's wellbeing page and see the range of support services. And for updated medical guidance regarding the Coronavirus outbreak, please reference the NHS and Public Health England