To say that we’re currently living through times of uncertainty is perhaps the understatement of the year! So now, more than ever it’s important to find new and inventive ways to de-stress and thrive. Cue Health Magazine (Waitrose, Autumn 2020) and a fabulous article called Unwind and Uplift.
It says: Embrace the tools you already have at your disposal to bring happiness into your everyday.
• Work the room: Spruce up your space with a project you know you can finish. Accomplishing a task, no matter how small, will boost your feelings of self-belief and encourage an optimistic can-do attitude. Try colour co-ordinating a bookshelf, painting a cupboard or re-organising your wardrobe. These methodical efforts won’t take all day and they have a clear end-point, with a result that is tangible and aesthetically pleasing. A new, clutter-free zone will improve your ability to focus on a job. Perfect if you want to reward yourself with a reason for relaxing later.
• Stitch up: You don’t have to be a dab hand with a needle to enjoy the benefits of hobby crafts. According to research from the University of Kentucky, just a single session of a slow and calming pursuit, such as embroidery and cross-stitch, hand-sewing, crochet or knitting, is beneficial for your emotional health and brain function. It boosts self-esteem and concentration as well as hand to eye co-ordination.
• Chop and change: Approach peeling, cutting and chopping as a meditative activity. These repetitive tasks, which require your full attention, can make the process of preparing food almost as joyful as eating it. Research from the University of Otago lists making new recipes among the creative activities that lead to increased wellbeing. Apparently students reported higher levels of enthusiasm following days they had cooked or baked.
• Grow your own: Take care of yourself by taking care of something else. When the NHS officially embraced ‘social prescribing’ as a way of improving mental health and boosting quality of life, gardening was one of the most common activities to be prescribed. Many studies have found that it improves social functioning, boosts self esteem and reduces stress. When new life takes off and we witness a surge of growth we will feel empowered. In cooler weather, consider growing pulses and microgreens (pea shoot, cress and mung beans) indoors in a window box planter. Nothing tastes quite like home grown.
• Making scents: Inhaling the fragrances of essential oils stimulates smell receptors in your nose, which send positive messages to your nervous system. Citrus scents can be particularly good for lifting your mood. Meanwhile peppermint, rose and ylang-ylang blends are recommended for unwinding and finding balance.
• Let’s dance: Find your favourite song and sing along. Whether it’s in the shower, the kitchen or all around the house, signing triggers the release of mood-boosting hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin. At the same time, mindlessly move your body, shaking your limbs to release tension. Dance and movement to music is the ultimate form of self-expression. It boosts your heart rate as well as levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine. And chemicals aside, it’s exhilarating.
Futon Company says: What an uplifting article! We’ve got a big smile on our faces. And while doing is a great way to boost wellness it’s also important to embrace the power or being – giving yourself permission to wind down and relax. Whether it’s reading a book, playing your guitar, daydreaming or catnapping there’s a lot to be said for taking some time out to do something creative or simply chilling.