With the country in the second lockdown of the year we need to find ways to feel better about ourselves in body, mind and spirit and it doesn’t have to involve extensive workout at the gym, an expensive spa day or a long haul holiday to the Maldives.
Here are a few simple steps that we can take in our day to day lives to help us stay in control, stay calm and comfortable but most importantly keeping us healthy and happy.
- Fill your house with nature
Houseplants have been shown to reduce stress and boost happiness. How? On a basic level, plants assist our breathing by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Certain plants can also help to purify the air – filtering out nasty, airborne chemicals. And, of course, colourful leaves and flowers can brighten up a room and our mood. What are you waiting for? Get out there and pick yourself up a peace lily.
- Stay hydrated
Water is the major component of the human body: women are around 55 percent water, and men a whopping 60 percent. We need water to function – so it should come as no surprise that staying hydrated can improve our health, raise our energy and improve our ability to concentrate. If you find drinking lots of water unappealing then try adding natural flavour with a wedge of lemon or a slice of cucumber or ginger. There are also apps that will send you reminders to get sipping and track your H2O intake.
- Rearrange your rooms
Rearrange a space in your home can have a huge impact on your mood, how well you sleeps and can contribute to your energy levels. You want to give it a crack, then start with the bedroom: keep the window open for fresh air-flow, let in as much natural light as possible, and clear clutter from cupboards and under your bed. If possible, place your bed in a “commanding position”: diagonally opposite the door, with a solid wall behind it and access from both sides.
- Give your home a lick of paint
With B&Q still open during the lockdown, the colour of the walls in your home can have a huge impact on your mood. Green – which represents nature – can promote balance, harmony and relaxation. Blue is a calming colour with soothing qualities: it can help create a sense of tranquillity and improve rest – great for a bedroom. Avoid red, which can actually cause us to breathe faster, raising our heart rate and blood pressure.
- Listen to birdsong
It might sound cuckoo but new research conducted by scientists at King’s College London shows that listening to birdsong can improve our mental wellbeing for up to four hours. Volunteers were asked to record their mood on an app as they moved around a city space, and the results showed that exposure to birdsong, trees and the sky had benefits which were present even hours later.
Research has shown that petting has a positive, calming effect. Pets are also a great motivator for people. Dogs especially are great at encouraging owners to get exercise, and this can be beneficial for those suffering from depression. Pets can also have calming effects on their owner. Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can gives owning a chance to relax and calm their minds. Caring for a pet also gives your day purpose and reward, and a sense of achievement. It also helps you feel valuable and needed.
- Tickle your funny bone
A good laugh releases physical tension in our muscles, improves blood flow and triggers the release of nitric oxide, which boosts the immune system. A good giggle can also decrease stress hormones and cause a release of endorphins, the chemical that makes us feel good and acts as a natural painkiller. That’s right, laughter really can be the best medicine. Spend time with friends on zoom calls or FaceTime who make you chuckle or, if you aren’t feeling sociable, binge watch videos of cats on skateboards.
- Get more sleep
Rest is as important to our mental and physical health and wellbeing as diet and exercise. Poor sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, higher levels of stress hormones, anxiety and depression – and it is while we are asleep that our body repairs itself. Work hard to sleep better: keep your bedroom nice and quiet, avoid eating late at night and power down – the blue light from a phone or tablet can keep you awake. It’s also time to cut down on the caffeine later in the day.