Ways to find happiness and wellbeing in winter lockdown
This year has felt like a slog hasn't it? And now with shorter days, cold and dark nights, and uncertainty around when restrictions will end, it's natural to feel pretty blue or anxious. To help, here are some simple but very effective steps you can take to find more happiness and improved wellbeing this winter.
Check your expectations for yourself and what this time of year would normally feel like. It’s going to be different this year, and that’s okay. Instead, set small goals to keep you motivated and focused on your wellbeing so you can stay calm and content. You’ll likely also learn a few important things about yourself and how you operate best.
Support your wellbeing and boost happiness this winter
Get outside everyday
As we head into winter, spending more time indoors can mean we get less restful sleep. That's because being out in natural light supports our sleep and wake cycle (ensuring you can fall asleep quicker and get more restful sleep). Spending time outdoors also does amazing things for our emotional wellbeing, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Think like a Scandinavian and resolve to get outside at least once a day this winter come rain or shine. It’s one of the ways that they get through the months of darkness that comes with living in the arctic circle. It might be time to stick a new waterproof on the shopping list.
Make home a haven
Here’s another great tip from the Scandinavians. Home design is so important to them because of the sheer amount of time they will spend in their homes through the winter months.
Take a leaf out of their book and think about how you could make your space more restful, calm or functional. Spending 5 minutes every day tidying up one area, or clearing out one drawer, is an easy way to start. Or perhaps choosing a creative project to beautify your home in some way.
Turning off bright overhead lights and using candles in the evenings to create lower light can be extremely relaxing. It also creates a natural shift from work to downtime, and will help improve sleep later on.
Natural, soy candles scented with essential oils are very easy to buy now, and won’t give off harmful chemicals. You could also try making your own, it's surprisingly easy.
Recognise when you need to connect
We are all so different here. If you’re more introverted you may need more time on your own to recharge, in which case lockdown may have felt a little more natural to you. The sudden lack of plans, although scary, may have even have felt like a bit of a relief. While more extraverted personalities may find the isolation of lockdown more of a struggle.
Where are you on this spectrum? Do you need to create some space on your own each day, or are you craving more social interaction?
Uncertainty can make us withdraw, but having some plans scheduled in will help you maintain a sense of normality and connection through the months ahead. Plan ahead and schedule time in – whether it’s a woodland walk with friends or a glass of wine over Zoom to check in.
Heading into Christmas, there will be a lot of room for comparison for what we’re missing out on that we would normally be enjoying. Processing what we’ve lost is important, but when you become consumed by it, this sort of repetitive thinking can have a big impact on our mental health.
Finding joy through small things is a simple way to dramatically improve your sense of wellbeing. Contrary to what you might think, this actually takes practice, and here are two simple practices you can try today.
Spend 5 minutes writing a list of everything in life that brings you happiness - think small and simple, and choose things that you have access to right now. A hug, a takeaway coffee from your favourite coffee place, looking through old photos. Come back to the list whenever you need and choose something off it to give yourself a boost.
The next exercise is to write about one happy memory for a full 2 minutes - set your phone timer and use a pen and paper. The act of reliving this memory through writing actually changes your body chemistry, releasing feel good chemicals, and reducing stress.
Regular practice of doing this will create new neural pathways and help your brain default to positive memories. Try doing this every day for 3 days and see how you feel.
You're more resilient than you think
What helped you get through lockdown earlier this year? You already have a toolkit, and you’ve shown yourself how resilient you can be. Take a few minutes to think about the specific things that helped you through the first lockdown.
Now think about your key strengths as a person. I challenge you to name at least three. How can you make use of those strengths now?
Connecting with what your strengths are and the strategies you already have in place for dealing with uncertainty, can be extremely useful. This winter will be different, but by taking some simple steps you can find more happiness and wellbeing in uncertain circumstances.
If stress and uncertainty is impacting you day to day and you feel overwhelmed, I offer a free 50 minute online consultation to help you dig into your best strategies to find calm and contentment for the months ahead. Simply schedule a time in my calendar to book in.