sunshineMay is the month of the year in which people are happiest because of the brighter blue skies, warmer temperatures, longer days and the blossom and renewal of spring, according to a survey.

Nearly 150 adults aged 18 to 74 participated in the study, which was conducted by wellbeing company Embodied Living assisted by AR Consulting, a research specialist. It asked them to reflect on their own personal happiness over the course of the seasons and looked at times of the year when they were happier. Results showed that May is the happiest month, followed by April. Not one respondent felt January or February were the happiest.

Just over half of all respondents identified the clocks going forward as factor in in their experience of happiness, while two thirds identified brighter skies.

The survey also looked at what activities people find effective in cheering themselves up when they feel a bit down or unhappy. For men, having sex with their partner was top, closely followed by vigorous physical exercise. For women, going for a walk, chatting with friends or family, as well as listening to cheerful music or playing with a pet were most effective.

Both men and women rated reflecting on the good things in life, making a conscious effort to stop feeling unhappy and try to feel positive as well as setting realistic goals and planning ahead as effective in cheering themselves up.

Sue Tupling, happiness guru, psychotherapist and MD of Embodied Living, said: "It makes sense that we feel happier in spring and summer, and May has so much to offer. Whilst most people agree there are happier times of the year, it's noticeable that people aged 55 to 64 do not agree with this, which might suggest that, as we get older our sense of happiness comes more from within.

"When it comes to what people can do to cheer themselves up, clearly sex is very important for men, who perhaps tend to be more comfortable expressing themselves and having their needs met physically rather than verbally. Both men and women said that, for them, consciously trying to be positive, tactics such as ‘appreciating the good things’, ‘focusing on feeling positive’ and ‘setting goals’ could be effective.

"Happiness is transient: the sun doesn't shine all the time. But looking within ourselves can be a strategy to find lasting happiness."