3 free exercises to support your mental health in winter
Winter in London is beautiful, magical and truly remarkable season. All those Christmas lights and decorations brighten our mood and create special anticipation. However, it is not the same for everybody. There are more and more people in London who have to deal with different mental health issues even during those festive days.
But, what are the reasons for this mental health problem flare up? Why are there more cases in winter than any other time of the year?
There is no single answer to this and causes vary starting from physiological causes like lack of nutrients and sunlight, to psychological that arise due to increased stress at work, finances situation, loneliness, difficult relationships … This list can go on and on....
Like many people I have and still occasionally experience low moods. I have also noticed that this happens more often in winter than any other season (can it be different for a Spanish who is now living in UK? :) ). However, I am always looking for methods to make those times come and go in the most easy manner.
I invite you to explore, to learn and practice exercises that have worked for me and hope that this will help you to get through this winter thriving and continue beyond that. Presented methods are free, available for everyone and can easily be done at home.
Exercise number 1:
Meditation is a process that helps to observe and quiet our mind. In the long term it works similar to psychotherapy and allows to diminish anxieties and fears as well as bring focus into our life that help us to become more effective at what we do and exclude unnecessary rush that exists in today’s life.
We need to think of meditation as an essential habit for calming, purifyingand nourishing our mind that is as necessary for our wellbeing as taking a shower or eating.
But what it is about meditation that many experts recommend it for supporting our mental health?
The answer lays in two very important parts of the brain that regulate emotions. First is the hippocampus and the other one is the amygdala. During meditation, we achieve that peaceful state by regulating both of these parts of the brain, which in turn brings calmness, improves our long term memory, reactivity and regulates our flight and fight response.
Studies have shown that we start getting those wonderful effects of meditation by doing it for just 25 minutes daily. I”m sure that this is a time most of the people can find in their day if the want to improve their mental health situation. But if you are still thinking that 25 minutes is too much - think of it as a similar process to when you start an exercise regime. It may be hard for your muscles at first, but pretty soon you will build up on it and begin to enjoy the process.. I started like that and I would recommend everyone to commit to meditating for at least 5 minutes daily and gradually increasing the time. The result will speak by itself.
Exercise number 2:
Listen to positive music of your choice
Researchers claim that listening to music, especially positive music lowers the hormone cortisol level which is increased after a stressful situation or if you suffer from chronic stress issues.
I prefer POP music as I like the beats and the rhythm itself. Afterjust 5 minutes of playing my favourites songs I feel in a totally different mood and if I have a busy day it helps me to disconnect for a while, reset and project more positive energy towards others activities.
Exercise number 3:
Journaling is a tool that can be used everywhere. The only pieces of tools you need are a small notebook and a pen or pencil.
Journaling is an art of expressing emotions, releasing stress situations or anything that affects your mind. It is amazing way to free yourself of internal battles that might happen in the past and continue to go on in your mind to a present day.
Scientific research shows that people who express emotions and negative thoughts on a piece of paper have lower cortisol levels and their mental wellbeing is enhanced.
Try journaling from today. Keep a notebook next to your bed and start to write those thoughts that appear in your head on the journal. People report that after two weeks of writing the journal they felt emotionally better.
I would recommend beginning with one of those exercises today and practice it for more than 30 days, after 30 days try another one and repeat the process. There will be times when you could be taking a few steps back. At this point tell yourself that’s ok I am not perfect, remember how you felt when you practiced the exercises and then take the control of the situation back in your hands again.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Don’t wait, start today and create changes to improve your wellbeing and empower others by example at the same time.