Coming soon: Boosting Teenage Resilience video for homes and schools

Happy New Year and Happy Self! (And happy news and journal GIVEAWAY)

The word “happy” is often used thoughtlessly; often in a saccharine, bland, shallow way. We say “Happy New Year” or “Happy Christmas” as a reflex, often knowing at the back of our minds that it’s vague wishful thinking, even if heartfelt. Or even perhaps that “happy” is indulgent and sometimes quite unrealistic. So happiness can be under-rated and dismissed or used meaninglessly.

But feeling happy is a very important, boosting, healthy state that helps us stay afloat. We can’t have (and don’t need) it all the time and shouldn’t worry when happy is elusive but it is worth seeking and working at so that we get a regular dose, whether from being with friends, having a laugh, reading a book, going for a run, looking at something beautiful, eating a delicious meal or getting into bed at the end of a hard day knowing that we did a good job. Or whatever works for you.

Happiness is two things: it can describe how I feel now, when something good happens or when I’m pleased with what I’ve done. And it can describe a more general, underlying feeling of wellbeing. Both those states are worth appreciating when they happen and seeking when we can. They both give us strength to face whatever we might have to face. Happiness can be stored, like a battery. It’s good to keep your battery charged. And everyone gets their happy moments in different ways.

Most of us have a happy self and a sad self. A calm self and an emotional, even angry self. And many other selves between. We owe it to ourselves and the people we live and work with to nurture the happy self, not all the time but enough to keep us afloat. When we boost and value the happy, positive, forward-thinking parts of ourself, we do ourselves justice. We make ourselves better, healthier, stronger. We give ourselves the chance to thrive.


So I am delighted to announce that I will be doing some work for an organisation I’ve admired from afar, HappySelf Journal. HappySelf produces gorgeous journals to help young people record moods and thoughts, wishes and experiences, ideas and motivational quotes. Journalling is good for us in ways you might not imagine. It helps mood, self-awareness and aspects of mental health, which you might have guessed, but there’s also evidence that it even helps sleep and our immune system. 

I’d been aware of HappySelf but hadn’t looked very carefully because at first their work was with 6-12 year-olds, but now they have a 12+ range of journals. (Also perfect for adults! I’ve started already!) So I was delighted (happy!) when Francesca Geens, the creator, approached me and asked if I’d write some parent guides and other items for them. Definitely! I’ll be writing one on anxiety first: a bit of a hot topic as who isn’t feeling somewhat anxious right now? They’ll be publishing a blogpost from me on understanding your teenagers soon.

Right at the start of the pandemic, I ran a creative diary-writing competition and I’ve regularly mentioned the value of writing thoughts down to help mental health so doing some work with HappySelf is a very neat fit for me.


To spread a bit of happy at the start of 2021, I have THREE of the 12+ journals to give away, one each in orange, blue and silver. They are gorgeous! (Thank you, HappySelf!)

Key features:

  • Premium 100gsm FSC paper to ensure a lovely writing experience (It really is!)
  • Structured daily pages to guide you through the journaling process with plenty of space for free journaling
  • All pages are different and beautifully illustrated
  • Undated so it can be started at any time of the year
  • Elastic and ribbon to keep your journal private and to mark your page
  • The journal has a lie-flat binding to make it easy to write in
  • Super-soft vegan-friendly cover

For a chance of winning one of these from me: (NOW CLOSED)

  • Have a UK postal address (You can nominate someone else in the UK, if you like)
  • Follow this blog (You can unfollow at any time)
  • Add a comment below, including the words “pick me”
  • By 5pm GMT on Jan 11th
  • Make sure you put your correct email address when asked, or I won’t be able to contact you!
  • After the deadline, I’ll assign all valid comments a number and run them through a random number generator. The three numbers chosen will win!

EDITED TO ADD: and the winners are….. Ro, Katrina and Louise! Your lucky day! I’ll be in touch. To the others: I hate the moment where people discover they didn’t win. I’m so sorry! But it was random and I’m sure your lucky day will come! Keep entering and keep hoping. But see the consolation message for one of you below…

Happy 2021, to all of you.

Don’t forget there’s also a giveaway of the Awesome Power of Sleep: see HERE. Deadline Jan 7th, publication day.


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16 Responses

  1. The journals sound amazing and one of my resolutions for next year is to start bullet journalling to help with welbeing Thanks Nicola and Happy Self for this giveaway!

  2. This sounds fantastic, I have always found writing/journalling a really helpful way of processing things. I would love it you were to pick me so I could help my 12 year old daughter do so too. Starting high school in the middle of a pandemic definitely requires a bit of processing!

      1. That’s brilliant thank you! I’ve just given two of my teenage daughters a couple of your books, the stress and sleep one as we embark on this season of remote school so I’ll be delighted to give this journal to my first year daughter to help her with her de stressing. Thank you.

  3. These journals sound super. I would be very grateful if you were to pick me, it sounds like just the thing to help my teenage daughter navigate her way through the final year of secondary school. Thank you for the giveaway offer!

  4. What a brilliant gift! Thank you for introducing the Happy Self journal to us! I hope they will promote well being and positive thinking for my teenagers!

    1. Hi Demi. I’m afraid you weren’t one of the winners and I only had three to give away but I ran the number generator to pick a 4th person and it was you (Hhooray!) so you are welcome to choose any of the following books: The Teenage Guide to Friends, Teenage Guide to Life Online, Exam Attack or Positively teenage. I’ll email you.

      1. That is a very nice surprise. I am a very big fun of yours! I “discovered” your fiction books when I was a school librarian a couple of years ago and then I was fortunate enough to see you and hear you live at one of your talks at Epsom College two years ago. You are a wonderful speaker and you talk a lot of sense in a very fun and relatable way!!! I am always eager to read your blogs and extremely grateful for all the guidance and advise you so generously provide! I will email you privately for the details.
        Thank you.

  5. What a wonderful gift for anyone. I’ve found journaling helps bring me perspective to my thoughts. I usually use a pad of paper but to have a real journaling book would be wonderful. I always encourage young people to journal as part of their routine. Especially helpful during anxious, stressful times, the noting of the joyful times to bring balance to their individual experiences.

  6. I love writing a journal as it’s really relaxing, and I think having a structured journal would really benefit my mental health at the moment during these tough times. I would love it if you were to pick me!! As I love little things that will add positivity to my day !

    1. You are a winner, Louise! Although it was random, I like the idea that both you and the person in your book group who wins it are happy! I will email you about sending your prize. All the best, Nicola

  7. Lovely prize! If you pick me, I will have a draw and pass the journal to one of the pupils from the online book club.

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