Movement, Mindset and Mindfulness
Ideas and tips
How is your wellbeing this winter? Whilst some people flourish, many of us find this time of year stressful. It’s colder, darker and often we feel less energetic. Life can get busier with extra family obligations or social commitments. For others, it can be a lonely time of year. Either way, this can be a challenging few weeks.
What can help us if we’re feeling stressed? In nature, the winter is about resting. Just look at deciduous trees who lose their leaves in Autumn and rest through the darker months ready to bud again in Spring. The break allows them to protect themselves in winter in preparation to thrive throughout the rest of the year. So what can we do to help us get through this time of year? Here are six ideas to help us rest and revive throughout winter.
When life gets stressful, it is really important we look after ourselves physically. Making sure we eat a healthy diet (in between mince pies) can make sure we are as healthy as possible. There are lots of different ideas around on what sorts of food are best for us, but lots of people suggest more vitamin C can to help boost our immune systems when we’re stressed and in winter. Some ideas on boosting your vitamin C intake can be found from Claire Stone Nutrition here. What foods would be most nourishing for you in the winter months?
Winter can be a great time to practice mindfulness meditation. Research has shown that even practicing for ten minutes a day can help us concentrate better, assist our emotional reactions to situations and improve our relationship skills, which can all be helpful at this time of year. Whilst mindfulness can be practiced in many ways, you might like to find a comfy place to sit, wrap a blanket around you and try a guided meditation. Apps such as Headspace, Sit Breathe Think and Calm are one way to try a guided mindfulness meditation. Or you might like to try free audio practices from websites such as www.calm.com or www.franticworld.com. Find a way of spending a few minutes to focus on the 'here and now' and notice how it makes you feel.
In winter, it can be tempting to snuggle into the sofa, watch loads of TV and not leave the house. Whilst this can be lovely at times, making sure we exercise too can be of great benefit. Whether this is going for a wintery walk, doing an exercise video from YouTube or doing some yoga stretches in between Netflix episodes, moving our bodies can help us boost our feel good hormones and keep us in good shape ready for next year.
4. Be kind
Whatever your views on the politics this year, you might have noticed that some commentators have noticed a decrease in compassion. Conversely, being more compassionate has been linked to better mental wellbeing. Try a random act of kindness over Christmas, for example, donating some toys to a local hospital, giving coffee to a cold person or looking after a parcel for a neighbour. Notice how this makes you feel. Likewise, it’s important to be kind to ourselves. Try noticing when you say something unkind to yourself and gently challenge these thoughts. Say something kind to yourself instead and notice what happens to your mood.
Take a break. Rest. Stop everything for a bit and just rest. Find a way of doing this that feels good to you. Perhaps putting your feet up and having a cup of tea, disconnecting from technology and reading a book or just lying like a starfish on your bed for a few minutes. This may feel strange or it may feel great, but actually stopping everything and pausing for a few moments, minutes or hours can help us revive. Notice how you feel once you start ‘doing’ again.
Winter can be a good time to reflect on the past year. What are you grateful for? What would you like to be different next year? Take time out to appreciate how far you’ve come and how you would like next year to feel.
Taking some time out in winter to recharge, refresh and revive can stand us in good stead for next year. What can you do to help you revitalise yourself this winter? Pause for a moment and plan some ways to boost your own wellbeing in the next few weeks.
Do you find January difficult or would you like some wellbeing stratgeies to help you boost your wellbeing in 2017? Try Office Om's January Wellbeing Workshop in Cardiff, details here .
Wishing you health and happiness this Christmas.
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Founder of Office Om, BACP registered counsellor, Yoga Alliance 200hr trained yoga teacher and promoter of making daily life just that little bit better.