As the clocks go back and autumn approaches it’s time to trip the negative switch to more positive thinking.
Editor Jane Garton looks at ways to bring some light to the darker days ahead.
There’s no denying that as we move into autumn, we could be in for some difficult months ahead. Covid cases are on the rise and the possibility of more lockdown restrictions alongside the approach of the flu season are starting to make life that much more uncertain.
So, now’s the time for some positive thinking so let’s look at what we can do as the nights draw in and the clocks go back at the end of the month to make life a life a little easier.
Nurture with nature
Study after study show the positive benefits of spending time outdoors. Lower stress levels, less depression, better concentration, improved resilience, better immunity as well as feeling less tired are just some of the wellbeing plus points.
What’s more, communing with nature is free and easily accessible especially if you have a garden, outside space or park nearby or better still live in the country. Wherever you live, being outside, inhaling the fresh air, listening to birdsong or just stopping and staring at the natural wonders around you can do wonders to lift your spirits.
If worries about the future start to overwhelm you just stop what you are doing and try the following breathing exercise. Gently breathe in through your nose for five seconds, hold for five seconds, then immediately breathe out through your nose for five seconds. Repeat the exercise for five minutes if you can. You may be amazed by how calm it will make you feel.
Look out too for herbal remedies with extracts of valerian root. They contain natural plant compounds known as iridoids that have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help to quell anxiety.
Finding it hard to concentrate with all that is going on in the world at the moment? Exercising for as little as two minutes a day can make you smarter say Swedish researchers who report that a single short workout can boost learning and memory[i]. A team at Jonkoping University reviewed 13 studies of the benefits of running, walking and cycling and found that two minutes of moderate to high-intensity activity improved attention, concentration and memory for up to two hours.
However, ideally aiming for 30 minutes of moderate exercise (anything that gets your heart rate up) 5 days a week is recommended.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a herb to boost your get-up-and -go, ginseng may help you to do just that. Long regarded as something of a wonder herb it is a highly respected herbal tonic, which will give your body the injection of energy you are looking for.
Stay in touch
The importance of keeping in touch with friends and family cannot be overestimated. Remember a problem shared is often a problem solved. So if your worries about the future or the effects of the growing covid restrictions are starting to get too much don’t keep your worries to yourself. Pick up your mobile and ring a friend or make a video call. Alternatively arrange to meet someone for a coffee and a reassuring chat.
It’s very easy to get caught up in a pattern of negative thoughts but talking through how you are feeling with a friend or family member can often help to break the cycle.
It can sometimes be hard to feel a lot of joy and optimism at the moment but switching your focus away from the negatives to the positives can help to reduce stress and change your outlook on life.
One way of doing this is to buy yourself a gratitude journal and note down on a daily basis all the good things that happened to you however trivial they may seem. The more you actively appreciate the good things, however small, the more you increase your ability to notice them as they happen. Think of things as simple as a great cup of tea, a kind word from a friend, or a warming ray of sunshine.