Guest Speaker Series – Dr Vikki Barnes – Free Happiness: The art and science of positivity

Oct 28, 2021

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Stop. Look around and enjoy the journey.” 


Dr Vikki Barnes has worked for the NHS and the Virgin Group. She provided mental health aid following Hurricane Irma, where she worked alongside Sir Richard Branson and has recently published her first book Free Happiness: The art and science of positivity. Vikki was able to advise on how to stay positive during adversity and up our own happiness game. 


What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is new psychology that is being heavily researched. Everyone’s heard of CBT and Freud, but with positive psychology instead of focusing on past issues, we focus on current strengths and talents, what makes us unique and how we can better our future. It’s a lighter experience. 


The journey to your goals

Society thrives on fast results – getting up the mountain quickly, accomplishing more in less time, but this isn’t always the best for our wellbeing. If you shoot up the mountain it can be harmful and you won’t experience the journey – you have to stop and say hi to the people around you on their journey, look at the trees and make small changes that help you to keep growing and progressing up the mountain. 

Once you get to the top of the mountain and achieve your goal, you don’t say you’ve completed the game of life, instead, you move on to the next goal and start up the mountain again. 


Noticing the early symptoms 

You need to prioritise yourself first and then your targets. The trick is to notice what your physical symptoms of stress look like, so you will know when they begin to manifest. This can include having trouble sleeping and feeling overwhelmed. 


People don’t realise soon enough when these symptoms creep up. Stress isn’t bad. It’s telling you to slow down or do something different:

  1. Write down your symptoms so you notice when they come up and do an activity to relieve the stress. 
  2. Taking care of your mental health can be a 2 week holiday, but it can also be stepping outside for 2 minutes and focusing on something that isn’t stressful – it has to be a real break. 


One action all businesses should take to support employee wellbeing 

Psychological safety – people should feel like they can go to work and be authentic. We need to open a space where people are able to speak to their manager and let them know if they’re struggling or have something on. Vulnerable conversations are not a weakness. 

90% of people are keeping it together at work and then falling apart at home and that shouldn’t be the case. You should be able to be yourself at work. We’re just humans – we can put on a facade, but we have the same needs as everyone else. 


Social media on the younger generation

Social media connects us globally, we’re able to share and find out things – we can do things we couldn’t before, but it needs to acknowledged that you’re looking at things that aren’t real. Vikki can remember life without social media, whereas the younger generations have grown up with it and the constant comparison that social media brings is damaging to our mental health. 

The brain doesn’t process what’s real or not. Your mind takes in data. Here are 3 of Vikki’s tips on curving social media addiction:

  • Look up and take in the amazing world around you instead of looking down and scrolling. We are human. We’re supposed to be outdoors more than we are. We’re not designed to be on screens all day. Leave devices at home and experience with your five senses. 
  • Don’t take your phone to bed or look at it for 30 minutes after waking up. 
  • Set specific times and days when you’re allowed to be on social media. 

Social media doesn’t have to be negative if we take control. 


Key takeaways 

  • Enjoy the journey, not just the destination. 
  • Recognise the early stages of stress.
  • One action all businesses should implement is psychological safety. 
  • Implement strategies to curve social media addition.
Lena Miah

Lena is our Marketing Executive here at She is versed in all things marketing and loves creating thought provoking, inspirational, and informative pieces for the company. 

Lena was born and raised in London. She has a passion for all things words and completed a BA degree in Journalism at the University of Roehampton. 

When she isn’t keeping the company blog in tip top condition she can be found in a yoga class or checking out the London food scene, but if the food isn’t up to par she could bake it all herself. 

You can find Lena on LinkedIn here 

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