While feelings of depression aren’t limited to any one date in the calendar, there’s no doubt that this time of year can be challenging, with shorter days, a lack of sunlight and not to mention the continued effects of a life in lockdown.
So if you’re feeling low, we thought we’d bring you ten things you can do right now to improve your mood and enhance your wellbeing.
1. Connect with loved one: Although we can’t meet physically at the moment, we can still connect with friends and family online, over the phone, by text, or maybe even with a more retro approach, such as sending them a surprise in the post. Making a social connection can help to combat some of the feelings of loneliness you may be experiencing. Why not get creative and make them a nice card or postcard, then tell them how much they mean to you inside.
2. Be kind to yourself: Take time to breathe, stop, relax and nourish your soul. Do nothing except count your breaths. Tomorrow is another day. If home schooling is not going so well today, take a break, talk about the difficulty you’re facing, try a different approach and start the new day with a fresh outlook.
3. Help someone else: Helping others makes us happy by developing connections and feeling of confidence, control and optimism. What can you do to help someone else right now? Could you collect donations for a food bank or one of our clothing banks? Do you know of an elderly or vulnerable neighbour who might need help with an errand? Or could you just don a pair of rubber gloves and head out to do a litter pick in your nearby area?
4. Be joyful: What could you do that would make you smile? Laughter and smiling lift your mood, decreasing stress hormones and helping you to overcome feelings of anger. Laughter also increases feel-good endorphins and releases physical tension. So put on your favourite comedy or look up a comedian you like on YouTube and enjoy. You could even try experimenting with laughter yoga.
5. Do something different: When you feel like you’re in a rut, it can be beneficial to do something to break up the possible monotony you feel with your routine. Get up earlier to do a short yoga workout, meditation or tai chi before you start your day. Take a mindful walk while there’s still daylight, paying attention to your senses and noticing your surroundings. If you’re working from home, consider setting an alarm every two hours to get up and do star jumps, heel raises, lunges or running on the spot for thirty seconds, just to get your blood pumping.
6. Drink less alcohol: We drink for many reasons: boredom, relaxation, to unwind after a hard day, because we feel we deserve it, for fun, celebration, anxiety, habit, or, well, just because. But that extra glass of wine or pint of beer may actually be having a detrimental effect on your wellbeing, aggravating pre-existing conditions or disrupting your sleep. Try alcohol-free drinks or replacing the desire to drink with a tip from this list.
7. Shift your focus: Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do, trying to develop a positive mindset. Rethink difficult thoughts, such as ‘I feel trapped by lockdown’ may become ‘I’m going to go for a walk’. Or ‘I’m bored’, could become ‘I’m going to use this time to learn a new skill’. Use your time deliberately, put down your phone, take up a new hobby, reach out to someone, read a book, decorate your house or do something creative.
8. Boost your immune system: Living a healthy lifestyle has so many benefits for both your physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention giving you a better chance of being able to fight off any nasty bugs you might be vulnerable to. We’ll be sharing more on the importance of healthy lifestyles in February, but for now, look into healthier food or drink options, getting your 150 minutes of physical activity and taking steps to improve your sleep hygiene.
9. Explore: Develop a curious mind for the world around you. This could be from your armchair through enjoying new sights via YouTube, Google Earth or museums and galleries that have gone digital, or by going for a walk on a new route in your local area. Research local community groups for activities you can do safely, such as a community litter pick, book swap, art class or choir. If online events aren’t happening right now, register for future face-to-face meetings to give yourself something to look forward to.
10. Be grateful. Research shows that practicing gratitude can have many positive implications in a person’s life, improving your physical and psychological health, enhancing your ability to feel empathy, improving your sleep, opening the door for new relationships, increasing mental strength and resilience and generally making you feel more optimistic. So take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you feel grateful for, and see the difference it can have on your life in the long-term.
What will you do to improve your mood? You can find other health and wellbeing resources via our online library, where there’s all sorts of things to help you engage with your own sense of personal wellbeing. Enjoy!