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How to bring positivity into the dark winter months - Mental health tips

New Year = New You. Getting fitter. Eating healthier.

These are the usual slogans that we hear at this time of year. However, the reality is grim. With the 3rd national lockdown being put in place in the United Kingdom at the start of 2021, many people are feeling rather negative. Looking after our mental health, therefore, is vital. But the question is how to stay positive and especially at such a difficult time?!? To be honest I do not have the perfect answer to this question but I can share several tips that help me keep as positive as possible.

1. Plants - Bring nature inside your home

The days are short, the nights are long. January is a grim, dark and cold month. It may even be the most daunting month of the year. What helps me to get through the cold winter months is to bring as much green as possible in my office. Plants certainly brighten up rooms and bring life into the dark winter months. Carrying for living things also brings joy and sense of purpose.

2. Scented candles - The warmth of a candle

Lighting a candle whilst working brightens our senses, positively affects our mood and certainly brings light and positivity into the dark rooms. Form a psychological perspective, according to Psychology Today, smells trigger vivid emotional memories and as a result, make us feel more positive. Therefore, scented candles can be a great way to bring positivity and warmth into the dark winter months.

3. Cooking - Try out new recipes

This has certainly kept my mind occupied throughout the pandemic. I am a person that overthinks everything, hence I try to fill my day with various activities. Cooking has been one that certainly helped me keep as sane as possible. Trying out new recipes and ways of cooking is a great way to keep the mind occupied and avoid negative thoughts and worries in this time of crisis. According to the Wall Street Journal, cooking can be good for emotional wellbeing by soothing stress levels and curbing negative thinking. Personally, I have become much more aware of what I eat and have tried many vegan dishes that are amazing. So get your apron and start cooking.

4. Move

I am avoiding saying ‘go for a walk’ or ‘exercise’ or whatever you may hear often these days. I think we should not put ourselves under pressure to exercise or to go outside as this may affect us negatively and create additional stress that we certainly don’t need. I would recommend to simply MOVE. Get up from your desk every hour or so, stretch, get another cup of tea… Whatever it may be, it is important to move away from the desk where we spend most of the time during the pandemic. What has helped me MOVE and to brighten my mood is the “Happy Sweat” by Pamela Reif that you can find here. Try it out, it is fun.

5. Just mark it done

Having a to-do list contributes towards your productivity but most importantly towards your mental health. By crossing off things on your to-do list we feel a sense of accomplishment. According to The Guardian keeping a list with tasks that we want to accomplish helps overcome anxiety and gives us a structure that is much needed in todays world. Therefore, do not get bogged down by to-do lists because once you start crossing things off that list you will feel better.

My final thoughts are, look after each other and do not beat yourself if you have not been as productive today as you wanted. Instead clear your mind and take a break., move, light a candle, cook... Whatever it may be, simply be kind to yourself and to others.

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