Beat The Winter Lockdown Blues
With the third Monday in January fast approaching we can’t help but feel that this year it should be called ‘The Bluest Monday of All Time Ever”. With the third Monday in January fast approaching we can’t help but feel that this year it should be called ‘The Bluest Monday of All Time Ever”.
The idea that this is the most depressing day of any year was first floated in 2005, when holiday company Sky Travel suggested that the combination of cold weather, dark days, credit card bill arrivals, and the wait for the next holiday appear to take a toll on people’s mental health.
Since then, many variations of the original formula – yes, there was an actual formula - have been used but the common themes include weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
While some people may feel this is just a made-up concept, it certainly strikes a chord with many of us and when you throw in lockdown 2, home-schooling, working from a dining table that is also home to a basket of washing and a half-finished science project, it really does begin to feel very real indeed.And let’s all be honest… the desire to run to the park for a burst of burpees and press ups doesn’t have the same appeal in frosty January as it did in sunny May. And let’s not even comment on our attempts at Dry January in 2021!
We know that for many of you reading this a visit to Live Active Leisure is usually what you’d do to dust away the January blues; a newly formed gym programme, a chilled-out Body Balance session or a few lengths of your nearest pool are all excellent ways to combat low mood and to rev up motivation. So, what can you do while we’re all locked down?
Here are our top 10 tips for keeping the blues at bay during a winter lockdown
1. Get some Fresh Air: Helps Clear your mind, boost energy and helps your mind focus. Clears the lungs and boost immune system, aids digestion, and help lower blood pressure, and makes you happy.
2. Stretch Daily: In lockdown we are working from home and we are sitting far more than usual. The benefits of stretching daily, releases tension in back, neck and shoulders and reduces the chances of repetitive strain injuries. Helps to create good posture and aids blood circulation. Helps boost energy and reduce stress levels.Click over to our At Home Hub for a great stretching routine from Carolyn >
3. Stay Away from Technology for a Period of Time: We can all agree that technology is a wonderful thing most of the time, however it’s beneficial to have some time away from it. It could be first thing in the morning, sometime in the afternoon or the hour before going to bed.
Turning off your tv and putting your phone away for up to an hour to focus on other things can positively impact your mental health. Using this time to focus on a new hobby, to read a book or to do some exercise and get your blood pumping will help you to feel more energized and focused.
4. Find A Home Workout For You: We won’t pretend it’s quite the same buzz as pounding it out on a treadmill in a gym full of people or pushing yourself through a spin class with an instructor right there in front of you, but overall the benefits of exercise are exactly the same in your home as they are in the gym!
That means lots of feel good endorphins for your mental health, calories being burned (we’re not giving wine or chocolate right now!) and a stronger immune system, bones and muscles. You’ll also sleep much better – see point 10!
5. Reward Yourself: It’s important to reward yourself. It’s often easier to reward others in your life but you need to think about yourself to help keep a positive mind set. Everyone will have a different idea of what a reward is so why not write down a few ideas, such as a nice long bath or an extra biscuit (or two) and link them to things that need done. That way you can be productive and can look forward to the reward afterwards.
6. Meditate: Start with 15 min each morning. Set up the alarm 15 min before the usual time and make sure you can spend that time without any distractions. Sit comfortably, set up the timer for fifteen minutes close your eyes, and just focus on your breathing. resist the temptation to open your eyes from time to time.
If 15 min is too long, start with 5 or 10. You don't need to control your breath. Just breath and "observe" your thoughts. We love the Calm app which offers a free and paid-for version and there are LOADS of great videos on YouTube to choose from. See also the NHS page on Mindfulness >
Some benefits of that kind of relaxation include:
• Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations.• Building skills to manage your stress.• Increasing self-awareness.• Focusing on the present.• Reducing negative emotions.• Increasing imagination and creativity.• Increasing patience and tolerance.
7. Practice Gratefulness: Our life experience is based on what we focus on. Quality questions create quality of life. Answer the questions and remind yourself those answers after your meditation:• What am I grateful about in my life now?
• What am I enjoying most in my life now?• Who do I love?• Who loves me?
8. Set manageable goals: Set yourself small manageable goals for each day and a bigger one for every week or month. By setting goals, you can focus your efforts on what might seem like small insignificant milestones that all add up to create a big milestone.
A really enjoyable goal that always receives great feedback is the couch to 5K in 10 weeks programme. Check it out here in our Learn To section.
If that feels too much, then why not target yourself to 3 x 30 minute workouts a week from our At Home Hub? Or plan a walk each day for 20 minutes? These goals will keep you mentally and physically well, all while giving you a real sense of achievement.
9. Sleep: Make sure your get plenty of sleep and are well rested. It may seem like a small insignificant thing but being well rested can help to improve concentration and relaxation, keep your immune system strong and it also allows your body to repair and rebuild after exercise.
10. Hydration: Every system in the human body counts on water to function, and the brain is no exception. Research has linked dehydration to depression and anxiety, because mental health is driven primarily by your brain’s activity. Long story short, dehydration causes brain functioning to slow down and to function poorly.
Think of water as a nutrient your brain needs and sit a large jug beside at the start of each day. You’ll be on 2 litres in no time!