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Seven Italian ways to beat the January blues

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Seven Italian ways to beat the January blues
Feeling blue?. Photo: Toni Birrier/Flicker
08:45 CET+01:00
The combination of the winter weather and return to work after the holidays can make anyone feeling a bit down in the dumps.

That's not to mention the lack of money due to Christmas spending, and a string of already broken New Year's resolutions which might leave you feeling hopeless.

But fear not.

While Italy may not score highly in Global Happiness Indexes, anyone who's spent time in the country will likely comment on the friendly, relaxed and hospitable locals.

It's a country where simple pleasures are key - something which is thought to be behind the huge numbers of super-centenarians, or people living past 100. There's a lot to learn from the Mediterranean way of life.

So, here's how to beat the January blues - Italian style.

Take a passeggiata (walk)


An elderly man heads off for a healthy passeggiata. Photo: Simon Collison / Flickr

The traditional afternoon stroll taken in Italy before dinner is a big happiness win. To make sure you get the maximum happiness-boost from your stroll – head to the park, whatever the weather.

A 2010 study by the University of Essex showed that even five minutes of light exercise carried out in a natural setting was enough to significantly enhance your mood.

Plan your next Italian getaway


Planning a rip to Vernazza could banish the blues. Photo: Daniel Stockman/Flickr

Thinking of a trip to Italy this year, or planning more trips within it? January is the time to plan, and these are our top suggestions.

Planning holidays gives you a sense of purpose and something to look forward to. In fact, just looking at that sunny picture of an Italian seaside town is probably making you feel better.

Picture yourself relaxing on the beach, reading a good book and sipping on even better wine. 

It might sound daft, but researchers from Holland who studied the effect of holidays on reported levels of happiness showed that people reported a greater improvement in their happiness levels when they were preparing their trip than while they were actually basking in the sun.

Have an aperitivo with a friend


Photo: Paturo/Flickr

The aperitivo: one of Italy's noblest traditions – and one which has been helping Italians beat the blues for over a hundred years.

Bars across the country fill up between 6pm and 9pm as friends head out for something to drink and a nibble. And if you're outside Italy, make a date with a friend to catch up over drinks and nibbles. 

Numerous studies have shown that the key component of happiness is strong social relationships, while enjoying alcohol and snacks in moderation means you won't feel any guilt for over-indulging.

Take in a museum


Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo could cheer you up. Photo: Denis Jarvis/Flickr

Italy has a lot of art, a lot of history and a huge number of cultural sites, including a whopping 51 Unesco world heritage sites that you have probably never heard of, let alone visited.

Last year, record numbers visited the country's monuments, perhaps down to the the powerful effect cultural sites can have on our well-being.

Museums and art galleries help stop you dwelling on your own problems and provide you with new experiences, new points of view and fresh inspiration – all of which will make you happier.

You just need make the time to visit them.

Eat a pizza


Life would be miserable without pizza. Pic: Jeffery /Fickr

Money can't buy you happiness – but for a few euros you can get an excellent pizza. We'll take that.

There is a definite connection between food and happiness, and with its hot, crispy base and melted cheese topping, pizza is an indulgent, calorific treat that is the perfect comfort food. 

Still sticking to your new year's diet and don't want to eat a pizza? Then, why not try drawing one...a 2013 study showed that the idea of pizza and happiness were so closely connected that even the act of sketching a pizza led people to feel better about life. It might be worth a try.

Cook something simple


Wei Duan Woo/Flickr

You don't have to eat out to eat happily. If, like many people, the very idea of coming home from work and preparing food makes you grimace, perhaps you just need some Italian inspiration.

Italian food is delicious and for the most part, simple to make. Anyone can rustle up a delicious plate of spaghetti alla carbonara – and they will be happier for it too.

Cooking helps us develop new skills and is also therapeutic, as it focuses our attention away from our January blues and gives us a sense of achievement: even if it sometimes feels like a chore before you begin.

Prosecco


Photo: Marite Toldeo/Flickr

The world's most popular sparkling wine could be the perfect accompaniment to quite a few of the activities on this list.

But if all else fails and you're still feeling glum, shut yourself away with the best bottle you can afford and remind yourself: January only comes around once each year. Bottoms up!  

 

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