We’ve asked our friend Charlotte, founder of Sole2Soul, for her top 5 tips to beating the January blues. Since studying Mental Health Nursing at university Charlotte has gone on to work as a senior nurse and manager within NHS inpatient and community mental health settings. Take a look at Charlotte’s top tips to stay happy and healthy this January.
1. Get Active
There are lots of reasons why exercise is good for us physically but it is also scientifically proven that exercise can help to manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, releases the feel-good chemicals in the brain – our endorphins. Dopamine and serotonin are also stimulated which help us to regulate and improve our mood and thoughts.
If you are new to exercise, set yourself small achievable goals; don’t think you have to get into lycra and sweat buckets. Simply going for a walk and increasing your steps, or doing a light spot of gardening (if it’s not too cold!) can be an easy way to start improving your activity levels. Whatever you choose, make it enjoyable and remember, energy fuels more energy, so stick at it and see what you notice!
2. Challenge negative thoughts and behaviours
Notice the impact your thoughts, feelings and behaviours have on one another. If your thoughts are negative, they are most likely making you behave in a negative way. Try challenging your negative thoughts by coming up with alternative and more balanced thoughts. Focus on making your behaviours positive and productive to encourage a better outcome. This will have a significant impact on your mood which will reinforce a more positive cycle in your thoughts and behaviour process.
If you find this a challenge, you can write down the situation you’re in, along with your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and try to reflect objectively on how they are all impacting one another. Then write down how you could make changes for a more positive outcome if a similar situation arose in the future.
3. Connect and spend time with others
Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with others! Building connections, sharing and talking with others can really help support you and can give you a sense of responsibility and identity. It also gives you a sense of pleasure and achievement when you give and share with others, helping to improve your mood.
Steps you can take here may be as simple as meeting with friends, but you can go further! Try joining a social group or sports team, or engaging with your local community by doing some volunteering. These are all simple things that can make a real difference, not only for you, but for others too!
4. Take care and reward yourself
Simply giving yourself some all important down time is a good way to look after your mental wellbeing, but it is often the first thing we ignore when we feel busy, stressed or down. We all need a bit of TLC; this doesn’t have to be getting an hour long massage (as nice as that is!), it could just be putting the laptop down and getting an early night, allowing yourself to relax. Making sure you schedule in the time to be kind with yourself allows you to recharge and nourish your mental wellbeing. If you haven’t practiced mindfulness or deep breathing this could be a good way to give yourself that quiet time. ‘Headspace’ is a very popular mindfulness App and you can use it on the go. Just taking ten minutes a day can really help.
5. Set yourself realistic plans and goals
The new year is all about resolutions, helping to create the “new you”. When making plans and goals make sure they are achievable, rewarding and enjoyable. Do this by breaking goals down into bite-sized chunks and by making them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound). There is no point in setting yourself up to fail, or making a goal unrealistic or idealistic. It will not help your motivation or mindset. It is, however, important to acknowledge that setbacks are all part of personal growth, as I like to say, “giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing all your tyres because of one flat tyre”.
With any goal, it’s best to set milestones and once achieved, you could give yourself a reward; treating yourself to a new item of clothing, a night out to the cinema or getting a beauty treatment… whatever floats your boat! Just make the journey of change as positive and as enjoyable as possible.
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year!
If you would like any more information or would like to learn more about Sole2Soul you can have a look at their website here