Happy places - what are they, why are they important, and where to find your own

Travelling to your happy place is a sure-fire way to improve your mental wellbeing.

Alex Burns
8th March 2022
Image Credit: JillWellington
You skim your eyes across the words “happy place”, whilst reading the first line of this article, and with that moment, the image of something, someone, or somewhere has hopefully flashed into your mind.  

Subliminally, your brain has already stored several images of what a happy place is – a “memory, situation, or activity that makes you feel happy.”. The idea that our happy memories play out like scenes from a movie is not a new concept, and has even become a recent trend on the viral video app TikTok. The last few years have felt like an uphill battle in the fight for happiness, and it is so important to be able to find and place ourselves in environments that surround us with joy.  

A happy place can help you calm down, embrace new skills or make connections - but it doesn’t just have to be a real-life space. There are plenty of online opportunities to lift your mood too, like watching your all-time favourite nostalgic movie on Disney+, or tuning in to Fearne Cotton’s aptly named “Happy Place” podcast on Spotify

Whether you are in Newcastle visiting, studying or live here permanently, there is plenty of happiness to be found in this city. The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting warmer – so there are no excuses to get out and find your new favourite places to relax in Newcastle. 

Blue Spaces  
Tynemouth Beach. Image Credit: Leanna Thomson

A 2021 study for the international journal of mental health revealed that the effects of “blue space” exposure can benefit mental health and symptoms of depression.  

Any body of water can constitute a blue space – but up here in the glorious North East we are less than 30 minutes away from the coast.  

You can jump on the metro at any central location and arrive at Tynemouth station in 30 minutes. The historic grade II listed station building, originally built in 1882, holds a weekly market over the weekend where you can support local artists and meet like-minded people, and enjoy some amazing scran.  

After this, make your way down to Longsands beach where you can find happiness in new hobbies, such as learning to surf with the famous Tynemouth Surf Co. Get your steps in by walking up and down the pristine beaches (you really feel alive when that Northern wind hits your face!) or just sit, read a book, and listen to the sound of the waves crash nearby. 

Green Spaces 
Jesmond Dene. Image Credit: Leanna Thomson

The study also includes notes on how green spaces can provide much-needed benefits to physical and mental health. These include reducing stress levels and boosting productivity. Newcastle has plenty of access to some amazing green spaces, and here are two of my absolute favourites.  

Horticulture is an amazing café, bar and restaurant that provides a warm, light and green space to enjoy. Surrounded by plant life, enjoy a coffee and an alternative place to study, or make new memories with friends during a spontaneous cocktail night. 

Another amazing place in Newcastle to get your green fix is the Ouseburn Valley. Accessible by bus, metro or a good hilly walk, Ouseburn has become one of my favourite spots in the city. A couple of my personal happy places include: eating at Cook House (which has held onto its spot in the Michelin guide this year), pints at vegan pub The Ship Inn, and getting some much-needed exercise at The Valley Climbing Centre

There is SO much more to see in Ouseburn, so get your comfy (and warm!) kit on and take a walk down the canal. You can check out the full map here.

Dark spaces 
Image Credit: Mark Angelo Sampan

Lastly, I couldn’t talk about happy places in Newcastle without mentioning some of the amazing rave spaces you can visit after the sun goes down. A 2018 study reveals that raving makes you happier, healthier and more successful.  

Ghetec is a freshly launched nightlife organisation bringing “dynamic, forward-thinking electronic music in the region”, as founder Boo wrote last week in Narc Magazine.

“Its mission is to create fully sensory parties and a platform for boundary-less self-expression. We will be pushing by bringing DJs to the city for their debut performances, whilst shining a light on under-represented local talent.”  

Boo, founder of Ghetec, quoted in Narcmagazine.com

Raving isn’t just about the drink and the drugs – we are all the same in the dark – so keep in mind that a rave can become one of your greatest happy spaces even if you are straight-edge. There is a massive sense of community and amazing music to keep you occupied all night long! 

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