SUMMER is nearly upon us, and while we can’t wait for sunshine, the season can also bring trouble of the “hot and bothered” kind.
The kids have an eternity off school, holidays mean airport dashes and check-in queues and trips away and meals out put a strain on finances.
But there are many ways to make your summer stress-free.
Andy Cope, the UK’s first Doctor of Happiness, says simple changes — from how you plan a holiday to who you go with — can make all the difference.
Here, Dr Cope gives his top tips to guarantee you the happiest summer of your life.
Our happiness is more closely related to relationships than money.
A lot of people think they would be happier if they won the lottery.
Indeed, you probably would for about six months, but the effect wears off.
This means holidays are less about the destination or the money you spend on it, and more about the people you go with.
Rather than share your pictures with people on social media, share the experience.
It will make for a happier holiday.
As human beings, emotions are contagious. Our feelings and attitudes spread like wildfire among those we are close to — especially when living in close quarters on holiday.
One negative family member can lower the tone of the entire group. Top tip: make sure it’s not you.
Stay positive and tell others what a great time you are having — it will spread the happiness.
Studies have shown that temperature has a bigger impact on our happiness than any other aspect of the weather, such as wind or rain.
Happiness is maximised at 13.9C so technically, you’re more likely to find the happiest temperature in Dorset than the Dominican Republic.
While we might feel cosy and relaxed in the comfort of our own homes, being outdoors makes us happier.
Just being out in the back garden rather than inside can boost your mood.
Take activities to the park, cook your evening meals on the BBQ and enjoy nights outside — even if it means putting on an extra layer.
The average hug lasts just over two seconds but if you hang on for a full seven seconds, oodles more happy chemicals flow around both bodies.
This summer, give loved-ones a longer hug and reap the benefits.
It might sound backward in 2017, but the use of tech can stunt our happiness.
When we sit with friends and family, we often feel we should be reading something online, checking messages or doing work at the same time.
Take time away from technology, especially when you’re on holiday, to enjoy the moment.
This will not only boost your happiness but will help you retain memories for the future.
A lot of us think our happiness depends entirely on material possessions.
But really it is much more to do with how much stuff we do with our time.
Use this summer to care less about what you own and instead enjoy the free things life has to offer — from walks in the park and free museums to days on the beach.
Putting less emphasis on material objects will improve your happiness.
Happiness science suggests that planning a trip, even if you don’t actually go on it, will make you happier.
One study found the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage as people enjoy the sense of anticipation and the social process of planning something with friends, a partner or family.
The effect of so-called “vacation anticipation” boosts happiness for up to eight weeks.
Don’t let good things pass you by — take a second to be grateful for them.
Some studies have put a price on little things in life. Seeing friends and relatives is equivalent to a pay rise of £64,000 a year, while chatting to nice neighbours is worth £37,000 a year.
So whatever the summer brings you, be grateful.
Too many people focus on the countdown to their holidays and fall into the trap of accidentally wishing their lives away.
One secret to happiness is to also enjoy the days between the big events.
Andy Cope is the co- author of The Little Book Of Emotional Intelligence: How To Flourish In A Crazy World.
For more advice on feeling happy, check out artofbrilliance.co.uk