Have you woken up feeling below par? Not ill exactly, but aching a bit, lacking in enthusiasm, worried about something you ought to do, and fed up with the weather?

Would you like to feel better? Right now? OK, let’s try and make that happen.

Breathe – deeply, in and out, three times. Now take another breath. But this time really empty your lungs as you exhale it. When there is absolutely no air left to breathe out, then, and only then, breathe in again. Repeat this procedure several times more, making sure you empty your lungs on every outward breath.

Top up your gratitude levels – by calling to mind three aspects of your life that you’re grateful for. If that cheers you up, which it should, resolve to do it more often. Perhaps it could become a habit at the start and close of every day.

Sing – yes, we all can. Granted, not everyone makes a lovely sound, but singing is very much part of the human spirit, and so good for the heart, lungs, mind and mood that we should all give it a go. Tune the radio to your kind of music and hum along, then sing softly, then louder. Are you having fun, yet?

Get moving – while you have the radio on. Rotate your ankles. Bend and stretch your knees. Attempt a few squats. Walk around the kitchen or hall. Then, assuming you’ve got the balance and mobility, sway in time to the music and maybe even have a little dance. This is a terrific, and cheap, way to exercise your body and warm yourself up.

Next, make a beverage of your choice and have a think about improving the day even more.

We’re all different, but I believe that if we schedule a mix of certain ingredients, most of us will feel happier and livelier.

So, in every 24-hour period, try to: have sufficient restorative sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise, get creative, be helpful to others, build in some treats for yourself, go out for some fresh air, and avoid putting off things which feel difficult.

Let’s look more closely at the last one. Is there something you know you need to do, such as go through bank and credit card statements to see where you might cut back on your expenditure? Or are you desperate to change your job? Or trying to pluck up courage to tell a relative that you want to reduce the amount of childcare you do for them?

The chances are you’ve decided to leave these problematic tasks till after Christmas. But is that working for you? I doubt it. More likely, they’re on your mind and preventing you from enjoying other activities. So why not make a small start today? Write an email, even if you don’t send it yet. Go online and look at career options. Find your latest bank statements and put them somewhere visible so you can no longer ignore them.

What else?

Try adding more plant foods to your meals. Aim for a ‘rainbow on the plate’ with your choice of vegetables. Aubergines, tomatoes, green peppers and carrots, for example. Scientists say that a wide range of colourful foods not only provides pleasure for the eye but huge benefits for the gut.

Colour is useful too if we’re trying to persuade ourselves to get out more. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about leaving the house when the weather is awful. But we usually feel better if we do. So, add some brightness to your outdoor outfits. A red scarf for instance. Or invest in colourful, but robust wellies. I bought pink ones and love them.

As for indoor activities, most of us spend more time at home than we do during other seasons, so engage in hobbies that absorb you. Can you knit? Do tapestry? Woodwork? Paint a picture? Play a musical instrument? 

Or what about making something for someone else – like baking a cake for the family next door? That way you’ll be doing something kind as well as creative, which will give you satisfaction.

And don’t forget a daily reward. Booking a holiday is a perfect way to lift your spirits even if you’re not going for months. Or perhaps you could dig out your old vinyl records and have half an hour or so wandering down a musical memory lane.

Then, what about some personal comfort? For me, very little beats a hot bath, clean sheets on the bed and a hot water bottle in it.

There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s harder to feel bright, fit and optimistic at this time of year. But if you assemble your own cocktail of helpful components, you’ll give yourself the best chance of feeling reasonable – and the dark days won’t seem so endless and irksome