5 free things to try in October for positive wellbeing
October 12, 2022
With the colder darker months drawing in, coupled with the worry of the cost of living crisis, I am seeing a rise in anxiety and concern about how to manage mood and wellbeing. Naturally, owing to the lack of light, it can be normal for our mood to dip during darker months, when it’s also cold (and wet, certainly in the UK!). We can experience a drop in our serotonin levels, due to the reduced level of sunlight which disrupts our circadian rhythm. During these months it is paramount to take a little extra care, and become mindful of our mood and mental health.
Here are a few gentle suggestions that will not cost anything but may help positively impact your wellbeing.
Keep to a routine
Look at your daily schedule and try to set a routine, as this is important for mental health. Routines can help to reduce stress, keep us calm and reduce anxiety. We may not do the exact same thing at the same time every day – that would soon become quite boring – but we can try to get up and go to bed around the same time each day, stick to a schedule for meals through the day, and take any medication at a set time.
Be sure to include some time for yourself in your routine, however that may look for you. Whether it’s settling down and catching up on Netflix, lacing up your trainers and going for a jog, or snuggling under a blanket with a cuppa, make sure that you make time for yourself. Scheduling it in your diary – or spending the time with a friend – can be a good way to make sure that you don’t overlook this in the busyness of life.
Consider some healthier habits
Healthy habits can make a huge difference to our wellness, and they can be super simple. For example, could you swap your first coffee of the morning for some lemon water to kickstart the digestive system, or your evening cuppa for a herbal tea? Remember that healthy habits are not just about what we eat and drink. Perhaps you could read before bed, instead of scrolling online (you’ll sleep better for it!). Or maybe you could incorporate some gentle movement or stretches through the day instead of staying seated at your desk for hours.
Nourish your mind
You could set yourself a goal of reading one book, or listening to one podcast, each month (or more frequently if you like). Audio books can be a good way of enjoying a book while you have a hot bath, or walk the dog. One of the Mindsum team enjoys podcasts in the car as she does the school run, and there is a wide variety of podcasts on almost any topic imaginable!
Don’t let the colder weather get in the way of moving your body. There is a saying: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing – and as long as we can stay warm (and ideally dry!) then wrapping up and getting outside can be good for the soul. It doesn’t need to take long either; just 10 minutes in a ‘natural setting’ can help us to feel happier, and reduce the effects of physical and mental stress. Getting away from screens and technology and into fresh air and nature can be truly therapeutic, boosting our energy levels and immune system! There are so many outdoor movement activities we can do: puddle jumping with small children; gardening, either at home or in an allotment; a local litter pick can be quite social, as well as helping the community; pumpkin picking at a local farm; a park run (challenge family members to race you!)
Keep in touch with friends and family, either by meeting up in person, chatting on the phone or video call, or over social media. (You could even arrange one of the above outdoor activities as a social activity!) Texting can be a great way for older generations to keep in touch with younger family members, like grandchildren. Facebook and other social media can be a handy tool to share photos and updates, and keep up with what is happening in other people’s lives. We are naturally social creatures who crave social connection, and it is important to maintain that. Those who were more connected with others during the pandemic experienced better mental health and life satisfaction. One silver lining of pandemic lockdowns is that we now have more, and better, ways to remain connected. After all those Zoom calls and Teams meetings while working from home, we retain skills and abilities to keep in touch with others across the world. Let’s keep in touch, especially with those who may live alone or be otherwise isolated.
With long sunny days behind us, and colder weather and darker nights drawing in, let’s be mindful of how we are feeling. Making some changes to benefit our mental health can make all the difference this October and beyond.