Here at Women Aloud HQ we want 2018 to be the year of health and happiness. So as often as we can we’re going to talk about little things you can do to take control of your own wellbeing. We don’t want you glued to your screen reading for too long though so we’ll keep things as brief as possible. Think of it as a quick fix to a happier you.
Today’s post is about getting outside come rain or shine.
Some of us are outdoors every day, but for others it takes effort – you’re too busy, hungover or sleep deprived; you’re having a bad day at home with the kids or you’re in a job that keeps you behind the wheel or stuck at your desk. In the darker days of winter, a lot of us don’t feel our cheeriest selves, and on a days when it’s cold and wet it’s not that appealing to get out and about…but it’s often on the days that we really don’t want to get outside that we probably need to the most.
Being outside is good for you
I said I’d keep things relatively brief so I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the mind and the importance of getting outdoors. I’ve written previously about the benefits of how nature can make us healthier and happier (if you haven’t read the post you can find it by clicking here.) In short, fresh air and daylight make our brain and bodies function better so, this month let’s take a little step on our wellbeing journey. Let’s get outside every day – come rain or shine.
It starts with your head
You might need to work on your mindset first. Instead of looking at the negatives (it’s too cold/wet/miserable outside), try to embrace the wonders of nature and our seasons. Be grateful that we have rain not droughts. See the weather as an experience rather than something to endure. Try not to think of going outdoors as merely a process to get from A to B, with your head down, making a mad dash for it. See if you can take a few minutes to really observe your surroundings, to notice nature in all its cold and windy glory.
It sounds morbid but sometimes as I walk I think I’m lucky to be here, with all my senses to see, feel, smell the weather. After a bracing walk in the wind and rain you certainly feel alive! Try taking on the weather with a child-like beginners mind. My toddler is a great inspiration for this…she likes to catch the wind; stick her tongue out to know what snow tastes like; and we’ve both been known to stop to feel the rain on our faces, much to the amusement of passers-by I’m sure.
Once your mind is on board you need to move your body
If hiking, mountain climbing or snowboarding are your thing, that’s brilliant. Or perhaps you dedicate your weekends to zoo trips, seaside walks and country parks, that’s great too. Keep it up! But what we’re talking about is the little things we can do every day…
- Leave the car at home, take your bike, get off the bus a stop early. Just walk more.
- Buy some new winter clothes so you feel cosy and warm to take on the outdoors…think there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
- Use the ‘get up, get out’ mantra and aim to get your fresh air fix in the morning before the day disappears on you.
- Make being outside enjoyable: take a thermos for your coffee or hot chocolate or a favourite snack; listen to music, a podcast, an audio book (remember to keep yourself safe though when using headphones). If you’re interested in mindful walking, both the Calm and Headspace apps have guided walking meditations you can try.
- Make it sociable: join a running group; borrow a dog to take for some exercise (use the borrow my doggy website), power-walk round the park with a friend; find out if there’s a community garden you can get involved with like this Foodsmiles one in St Albans – here’s a link to other Incredible Edible projects around the country.
- Have fun: take the kids puddle jumping; dance round a lamppost in the rain; have a race round the block; a jumping contest; go geocaching.
- Get creative: go snap happy – take a daily photo of nature, the weather, the sunset. Start a nature journal. Paint, hide and find rocks – click here to read about the new rock craze in St Albans.
- Have a destination or treat in mind to motivate you…combine breakfast or brunch with a park-visit; stroll to your local pub then warm up with a drink by the fire; go for a bike ride followed by a roast dinner; go to your local coffee shop or deli for caffeine and conversation; walk in the woods knowing that when you get home you’re going to indulge in a long, hot bath.
- Keep it simple: stand outside for a minute with a hot drink; set your alarm to watch the sunrise; cancel your online shop and walk into town instead; stand in your garden for 5 minutes, lift your arms and stretch, take some deep breaths.
- And if you can’t get out in the daylight, then stop to take in the darkness instead. Look at the moon and stars. Throw on your coat, take your coffee or wine and sip on your back doorstep for a few minutes.
Some days you’ll be outdoors all day without a care in the world. On other days it will take more effort. Some days it will be 3pm and you’ve still not left the house. On other days you’ll be out in yesterday’s make-up with your PJ top hidden under your coat…or maybe that’s just me. Be realistic that this is the catwalk of life – your waterproof mascara will be put to the test; you may look a little grubby, windswept and unkempt but it’s ok because you’re working on your wellbeing.
It’s not rocket science – we don’t like over-complicating things. It’s about little actions you can take every day to know you’re helping to keep those winter blues at bay. Find what works for you. And when you do, let me know, I’d love to hear from you. X