December 10th, 2020
5 great ways to boost your mood as the days grow shorter
Winter can be one of the most difficult times of the year for mental health, with dreary weather and long hours of darkness making it difficult to get out. This is only made worse by the months of isolation that many people have had to endure this year because of the lockdowns.
If you’ve been feeling a bit drained recently, you’re not the only one. According to the Telegraph, mental health services have been facing a surge of demand in recent months and it is expected that this trend will only increase as winter sets in.
2020 has been a very difficult year for mental health, so now that winter has rolled around, it is more important than ever to look after your mental wellbeing. Here are five great ways to boost your mood as the days grow shorter.
1. Give yourself regular breaks to prevent burnout
One of the problems that experts are warning us to be careful of this winter is emotional exhaustion, known as burnout.
This year has been a stressful one for many people, as the lockdown has disrupted our daily routines and prevented us from regular contact with our friends. Furthermore, for many people, remote working has brought the stress of the office into the home, leading to a poorer work-life balance.
If you’re feeling stressed due to working from home, one of the best things you can do to combat it is to make sure you take regular breaks throughout the day. They don’t have to be long, but by breaking up your workday, you can help to reduce the stress to a more manageable level.
2. Make sure you get good-quality sleep
Sleep has a huge impact on your mood, as well as your ability to deal with stress and anxiety, so ensuring that you get good-quality sleep is important.
Aiming for around seven or eight hours per night is a good start, but sleep hygiene is important too. Sleep hygiene is essentially the quality of your sleep and you can improve it without much effort.
For a start, try to limit your exposure to electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, in the hour before bed as the light from the screen can impact your body’s ability to rest. If you struggle to fall asleep, try reading instead.
Consuming caffeine and alcohol in the evenings can also have an impact on the quality of sleep you get, so steer clear of them. Sleeping at a regular time each night can also help to improve the quality of your sleep.
Poor quality sleep can make you irritable but being well-rested can help to bolster your mood, so make sure to get enough well-deserved rest this winter.
3. Try to maximise your social contact
As a result of the lockdowns, many people are struggling to maintain regular social contact, and this can be very damaging for a person’s mental wellbeing.
A recent study by the Office for National Statistics, reported in the Telegraph, found that around 4.2 million Brits described themselves as ‘always or often lonely’, compared to only 2.6 million who described themselves as such before the lockdowns.
Humans are naturally social animals, so even the most introverted of us need to be around people occasionally, to keep our mood up.
If you get the chance to, try to maximise your social interactions throughout the day. For example, even something as small as chatting to a neighbour can do wonders for keeping your spirit up – but make sure to be responsible and socially distance while doing so!
4. Try to fit some exercise into your routine
It’s hard to emphasise enough the importance of exercise for keeping your mood up during the winter months. Regular exercise has a powerful antidepressant effect and can be a great mood booster.
If you find your mood slumps in the winter, try to take some time in the day to get some exercise and you may find that your mood lifts considerably. Even little things like walking or cycling to work can do wonders for your emotional wellbeing.
If you’re averse to the cold, there are plenty of online resources that you can use to exercise in the comfort of your own home. Apps such as Fitbit Coach, which can be found here, provide motivational guides and videos for a variety of home exercises.
Even just half an hour per day of light exercise can be enough to give your mood a boost, so give it a try and see how much it can help you.
5. Make sure you eat healthily
Your diet has more effect on your mood than you may think, and a healthy diet has been linked to more positive mental wellbeing.
Like an expensive car, your brain runs most effectively when it uses premium fuel. Eating high-quality food, rich in vitamins and minerals, lets it regulate your brain chemistry effectively and keep everything running smoothly.
Eating unhealthy food, such as foods high in refined sugars, can have the opposite effect and prevent your brain from working effectively. This can lead to feelings of low mood, which is the last thing you need when your mood is already low enough in winter.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t eat any unhealthy food, as most things are fine in moderation, but try to eat healthily this winter and you may find you have a better mood and are less lethargic.