As the nights continue to draw in and the mornings become increasingly hard to welcome, it may be of some consolation that we’re nearing the end of Lockdown 2.0 and that at least we now have an idea about what Christmas is likely to look like this year. 2020 has been a tough old year and pandemic fatigue is very much on the rise, so I thought it may be wise to look at some little ways you can enhance your own mood and boost mental health.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” (Robert Brault, operatic tenor)
While this quote may seem a little obvious, it’s amazing how often we focus on big events to look forward to, missing the fact that the minutiae in life holds much beauty and joy and being mindful, in the moment, can bring us great peace and happiness. With that in focus, let’s look at seven top tips to boost your mood.
- Let there be light
It may seem a little ironic in the winter months to be talking about light, but you’d be amazed how simple adjustments like putting your desk in front of a window can make a difference, especially with many of us working from home. Daylight is a proven serotonin-booster and exposure to it helps regulate our sleep. Use mirrors too, to help reflect light towards your seated position, while making sure that those windows are clean and curtains are fully drawn, allowing as much light into your room as possible. This picture was taken at our last photo shoot and I just loved the big windows and the greenery outside (and I think our model was quite happy sitting in front of the light-strewn window with her feet up!).
- Go for walks
Integrate at least one walk outdoors into your daily routine. I just love this picture from Cocoroser Rachel, who was out for a walk and very proudly showing off her new Hoxton White with Red Star Trainers. It does also make such a difference when you've got fun and comfy shoes that make you smile 😊 Smiling is one of the oldest tricks in the book to help boost your mood. A simple smile - even if you have to force a fake smile - can trick your brain into happiness — and boost your health - because it spurs a powerful chemical reaction that can make you feel happier, reduces stress and lower your heart rate.
There is much scientific research going into the power of nature to improve symptoms of depression and boost overall health, while exercise is already known to be a big factor in overall mood. Going for a walk out in nature – be it a little patch of woodland or an urban park, a walk by the river or a coastal stroll will be great for your mood.
- Get some plants
Having plants around us is proven to be calming and relaxing. Plants are capable of reducing anxiety and boosting attentiveness and concentration too.
- Help other people
Offer help and support to vulnerable neighbours. Pick up prescriptions, do a little shopping, drop off some books. Helping others makes us feel better about ourselves.
- Regulate your sleep pattern
Going to bed and waking up at a regular time is proven to be good for mood and overall health, so should be practiced where possible. I say 'where possible' because this is something that I am definitely not practicing enough! With little Elin - and I think most new parents will empathise - getting a good and full night's sleep seems like a very distant memory 😅
- Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness in its simplest definition is ‘living in the moment.’ We can practice this by doing guided meditations, like this. BBC 6 music even has a mindfulness moment each day. Alternatively, just lie down in a decluttered space, put your feet up and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and just feel your body relax.
Studies have shown that being surrounded by clutter is not good for our mood as it can increase your cortisol levels, which heighten anxiety and responses like fight or flight. The main problem with clutter is hyper-stimulation. So, keep busy (another mood booster) by decluttering and providing a more calming space for yourself. And this, I will admit, is something that I need to put into practice pronto! As I type this at my desk, I am currently surrounded by my next season's sample collection of boots, new in face masks that are yet to be loaded online, leather swatches that I've been poring over for new development and design and a pain-au-raisin treat for my mid afternoon sweet treat!