Levels of happiness in Cumbria vary according to where in the county you live - with Brexit, political instability and Storm Desmond thought to have contributed to mixed levels of contentment.

An official government survey has revealed residents in Allerdale and South Lakeland are now generally less content and have lower life satisfaction overall compared to the 2015/16 financial year.

But those in Carlisle, Barrow, Copeland and Eden rate their lives as more cheerful now than 18 months ago.

Nationwide, the study, compiled by the Office for National Statistics, reveals levels of happiness have crept upwards during the same period.

It covers years in which the country went to the polls over Brexit while Cumbria was hit by one of its worst ever floods - in December 2015.

The data shows Carlisle scored 7.3 out of 10 in 2014/15 and 2015/16 before rising to 7.8 last year.

Those in Allerdale showed the reverse - scoring themselves as 8.1 out of 10 two years ago but remained at 7.6 last year.

Barrovians have become steadily happier over the period in question.

In 2014/15 residents gave their happiness level a score of 7.2 out of 10.

This rose to 7.5 the following year and hit 7.7 in 2016/17.

Copeland scored 7.6 in 2014/15 but 7.7 last year.

And Eden is now a gleeful eight out of 10 - up from 7.5 two years ago.

Happiness expert Keith Adams, from Carlisle, said being happy and feeling positive was one of the most vital components of life.
Laughter is the best medicine. Keith Adams tries some laughter therapy. Photo: STUART WALKER

But he believes divisions over Brexit, which have dominated social discussions since the referendum last year, have influenced people's feelings of contentment.

Mr Adams, who works as a laughter therapist, said: "I think in the last two years the country has become deeply divided and this could have contributed to people feeling less happy overall.

"Feeling happy is so important, but not just to you as an individual but also the people around you.

"We know happy people are more entrepreneurial, have more flair and take fewer sick days.

"It's in everyone's interest to be as happy as possible."

The survey was published by the Office for National Statistics.

It took into account the answers to questions added to the annual population survey.

These asked people to give a score out of 10 for happiness, satisfaction with life, how worthwhile it is and how anxious they felt.

The ONS report states: "Research shows that a number of factors influence our quality of life and well-being.

"Employment or job satisfaction, our health, the quality of our relationships and our personal financial security are just some of the aspects of our lives shown to have an effect.

"Over time, changes and differences between areas could be related to these factors."

Cumbria County Councillor Deborah Earl. Photo: PAULA THANNER Councillor Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council's public health and communities chief, said: "I am very proud of this area, the spirit of the Cumbrian people, and the community ethos and pride that local people have in their county.

"This is reflected in the conversations and meetings I have with local people every day, and in the experiences of the many visitors and tourists we have in Cumbria every year.

"The statistics this year show a very small decline in the happiness of people in certain areas of the county, and I would attribute that to a number of factors; including the aftermath of Storm Desmond, which saw almost 7,000 homes and business flooded.

"It’s difficult to put into words the stress and upheaval experienced by affected people and their families.

"Overall however, the statistics show that people love living in Cumbria and enjoy a happy quality of life that is ahead of the national average."

Happiness in Cumbria - the league table (out of 10)

1. Eden - 8

= 2. Barrow 7.7

= 2. Copeland 7.7

= 2. South Lakeland 7.7

= 3. Carlisle 7.6

= 3. Allerdale 7.6