How to Practice Mindfulness when Life is Hectic
August 28, 2018

Winter can have a huge effect on wellbeing, the darker nights and colder weather is nature’s way of telling you to take time to rest, but most of us don’t give the change of seasons a second thought. The stresses of winter can be mentally and physically exhausting. Follow these top tips to take better care of your wellbeing, so you can make the most of the festive season.

1. Talk and build relationships.

Christmas is a time for celebration but it can bring pressure to act like everything is going well, even if you’re struggling or feeling lonely. Remove this pressure by opening up about your feelings, talking is an antidote to stress and a wellbeing lifesaver. Focus on building good relationships by keeping in regular contact with loved ones, fight isolation and make social connections by joining a group or connecting communities scheme

2. Get plenty of sleep

Humans need more sleep over winter because darkness produces extra melatonin (the hormone that tells our brain it is time to sleep). Blue light from LED screens slows melatonin keeping you awake longer . Using social media can make it 3 times more likely to have sleep problems , avoid screens one hour before bed and instead unwind by taking a bath or reading a book.

3. Exercise

It is tempting to stay indoors and avoid exercise during the winter. The lack of sunlight means it is hard to get enough vitamin D making you feel tired and drained. You can combat this by exercising outdoors in natural daylight. Exercise has been proven to decrease depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety, stress and even make you sleep better . Consider investing in a SAD- lamp, a fantastic light therapy that mimics natural daylight .

4. Eat well

The holidays promote over indulgence, but it can be balanced out with healthy fruit and vegetables. Replace the lost vitamin D from a lack of sunlight with vitamin D rich-food like oily fish, red meat and eggs . Reduce caffeine content and opt for turmeric or green tea. Say hello to hydration and drink lots of water while keeping an eye on alcohol units that quickly add up. If you are going to drink alcohol over the festive season try doing dry January in the New Year.

5. Practice gratitude and mindfulness

4 in 5 people believe that stress is a way of life , mindfulness is an effective way to de-stress that doesn’t have to be scheduled in to your day. It can be as simple as noticing your breathing or the smell of your coffee, and being present in the moment when having a conversation. By being mindful you can alter the neural plasticity of your brain, like an instrument that you can fine-tune. People who are grateful are happier, less likely to be lonely, anxious or depressed . Practice being more grateful this winter by thinking of 5 things you are grateful for before starting the day.

1. https://www.redcross.org.uk/get-help/get-help-with-loneliness
2. https://www.cnet.com/how-to/stop-your-gadgets-from-keeping-you-awake-at-night/
3. https://www.runtastic.com/blog/en/pillow-talk-fascinating-facts-about-sleeping-in-winter/
4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
5. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/
6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
7. https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january
8. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stress
9. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

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