This past year has been filled with changes, challenges and difficult choices, but we have pulled together and made it through this far. We have dealt with new rules and regulations, constantly adapting and rearranging the flow of our daily lives and routines, and what now seemed like the new normal has changed again.
With lots of different towns and areas of the UK being thrusted back into lockdown regulations, we have been forced to come to terms with the repercussions that come alongside these rules, from not being able to see loved ones to adapting our working situations.
It is no surprise that we often find ourselves dwelling on negative thoughts, actions and energies with bad news capturing our attention more so than good news. This is because negative events have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones, which is what psychologists call the negative bias, and it can have a huge impact on our behaviour, decisions and relationships with those around us.
In order to turn this around we wanted to focus on the little things that we have been doing or experiencing that have been making us smile during lockdown. Although there are lots of rules in place in terms of group numbers and distancing, it is still possible to enjoy your surroundings and keep your mind and body healthy. These are just some of the small ways our team have been feeding our souls with goodness this year!
Increase Connections With Those Around You
Whether it is with those in your household, or those you pass by during essential shopping trips, it is super important to recreate or increase connections with the community surrounding you during times when it is really easy to feel isolated.
Our Sales Director, Catherine, says “I love to go to my local wine & cheese shop and chat (behind masks!) with the owner, he always gives a little piece of cheese to my son. It is great to have familiar faces to speak to, support local shops and get great wines! We have discovered new small businesses and again creating lovely connections.”
These small bursts of social connection is really important to our overall health. It can help to lower anxiety and depression, increase self esteem and empathy, and even improve our immune systems (research by Steve Cole shows that genes impacted by loneliness also code for immune function and inflammation). So by trying our best to maintain social connections we are also looking out for our health.
No matter if it is enjoying a walk in the woods, or enjoying a Zumba class over Zoom - exercise is as important for our minds as it is for our bodies. Everything going on at the moment in the world around us can have a detrimental effect on our mental health. From increased anxiety, to severe loneliness and depression, so finding small ways to improve, nourish and protect our mental health is especially important.
Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. It also provides some much needed structure in a confusing time where our routines are ever changing. Each day when you have a few hours spare, whether it is first thing in the morning or after work or the school run, use it to enjoy some exercise. This doesn’t mean an hour of high intensity workouts, it can be a leisurely stroll through your local neighbourhood, or say hello to the ducks whilst walking alongside a river bank like our Graphics and Content Executive, Zainab loves to do.
By finding something that you enjoy and look forward to makes it easier to incorporate them into your daily routines, as our Marketing and Customer Experience Executive, Sophie says “I've done all the fads since the beginning of lockdown, and dropped them all when I got bored and over it. I finally found zumba that doesn't feel like a chore to make myself do at the end of the day!”
Find New Hobbies
For many of us, alongside its many challenges, lockdown brought new and in some cases old hobbies back into our lives. One of which our Business Development Manager, Chiara, loves - baking.
Not only does it mean you are left with delicious cookies, cakes, pastries and other yummy treats but baking actually has a lot of benefits for our mental health. Often the smells that we associate with baking are actually very beneficial in terms of aromatherapy. For example, the scent of vanilla can help with stress relief and relaxation. It can also have sedative effects on the body and help to reduce hyperactivity and restlessness.
Another way that hobbies can help bring us joy and calm our minds during this time is by making sure we are engaged. Mindfulness is the quality of being aware and engaged, which helps to lead to reflection rather than reaction. A lot of psychologists believe that being engaged is one of the best ways to combat anxiety and depression. This is because you give the activity you’re engaged in all of your attention, rather than dwelling on bad news that causes anxiety.
If you have any little bites of soul food that you have found helpful over the last year then we would love to hear them! For more blogs surrounding the topic of both mental and physical wellness you can visit our updated Wellness Centre here. A new safe space we have designed to focus on our own wellness and how we can improve, adapt and revolutionise our own wellbeing in the 21st century.
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