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January: Stay warm, stay cosy, and stay connected

So 2021 started with a bang – we know the next few weeks and months are not going to be as we would have hoped so the simple things are more than important than ever to looking after our mind health.

Lockdown, winter weather and a distinct lack of sunlight and spontaneity can impact our mental wellbeing, add in having to plan everything and the thought of queuing, face mask in hand, around the pavement for the local M+S to do our food shop and well, it’s no wonder we can feel flat at the moment!

The temptation is to go into full-on hibernation mode and of course rest, relaxation and cautious comfort food consumption is entirely understandable. 

Here are some tips and suggestions on staying warm, cosy and connected this month.

Dim the lights or go for candles

Turn off harsh fluorescent lights and invest in lamps with warm, orangey light and dot them around the house. Scented candles create little pools of radiance around your home and opting for certain scents, such as vanilla, lavender, or chamomile, can trigger a chemical reaction in the brain that aids relaxation and can help reduce anxiety.

Stay hydrated

Relaxing or bingeing on your favourite boxset  may not seem like thirsty work but keep hydrated, so make sure you get your daily liquid quota via hot beverages, like herbal teas, hot water with lemon or hot chocolate. Researchers at Yale University have found that things that warm drinks actually possess the power to help people feel happier and less lonely. Here are some of our favourite drinks from an earlier blog.

Rest up

Relax but not too much as oversleeping can make you feel even more sluggish during the day. Aaim for about eight hours of shut-eye a night, and try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

Get outside

A lack of sunlight means your brain produces more of the hormone  melatonin, which makes you sleepy. So, in order to combat this, try to adapt your schedule around the shorter days, and make time to get outside during your lunch break or in the late afternoon. 

Stay connected

Whether you’re meeting friends for a socially distanced walk, your doing Zoom drinks or calling your in-laws it’s so important to stay connected – in person, by phone or using social media. Too much social media as we know can have a negative impact on our brain health but as this scientific study from Harvard University in 2020, it can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing.

Keep Well,

Dr Clara Russell