You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Generally, we spend so much time thinking about others and focusing on things that need to get done that we forget about ourselves.

We were reminded of this last week when in a fascinating lecture about Mental Health we were asked to do homework. At first, we groaned internally. This was ANOTHER thing to add to the list when we got home alongside the kids’ homework, feeding a hungry family, making packed lunches, unloading the dishwasher, preparing for work and now we had been given our own homework as well. Gulp.

Introducing the Happiness Hour.

However, the Homework was actually to take ONE hour doing something that we love that DIDN’T involve screens.

Our initial relief was met by the realisation that this is an extremely rare occurrence . How would we spend a whole hour doing something that is not a chore? Especially when there was so much to do? Doing something purely for ourselves felt really indulgent. This was not about exercising, walking the dog or even having a coffee with friends as these are all too often more things that we ‘must’ or ‘need’ do. It was about carving an hour out of a busy day to make ourselves the priority. There were only two rules. We could do anything we wanted but it couldn’t be a chore and it shouldn’t involve any screen time

Flourish not just Function

The idea is to schedule some time to look after ourselves so that we can flourish not just function. It was about our own self-care. As it was homework we had to do it and we initially  felt rather guilty but guess what?  It felt wonderful. Afterwards we felt more kinder, calmer and more considered. 

Prioritise Yourself

With the current pace of life, it is just too easy to not prioritize ourselves and with that comes a whole other list of problems – being grumpy, shouty, eating too much, drinking too much and just generally feeling permanently tired and overwhelmed.

So we are passing on this key bit of self-care advice. This is a not so gentle reminder that you do deserve to be a priority and that your self-care is vital. However, this is not something you do once and tick it off your list. The idea is that the ‘happiness hour’ becomes a habit – and its constant repetition will enable us to be our best selves from which everyone will benefit.

P.S. This is the happiness hour NOT Happy Hour so please do not get the two confused.

Here are 10 suggestions for your Happiness Hour.


Have a Bath (get the lotions and creams out and pamper yourself).

Read a Book or magazine (remember there are no screens allowed)

Start a Hobby (baking, bread making, drawing, painting, writing)

Go for a walk – all by yourself.

Do NOTHING – just be.

Lie on your back and daydream.

Venture out for Coffee ALONE.

Listen to music.

Take a nap (twenty minutes can give you a serious re-boot).

Do NOTHING – just be.



Carve out an hour of busy and replace it doing something you love.

If an hour a day is too much then every other day or if that is too much then re-jiggle your schedule or delegate.

Make the happiness hour a habit. Choose you.

Our homework was set by the medical educator and talented lecturer Jane Nathan who runs Education4Health, a training arm of the award-winning health clinic Healthcare on Demand. Education4Health specialises in offering a wide range of mental health related educational programmes.