wellbeing in winter

Nurturing ourselves in the winter months!

When it is cold outside the temptation is to hunker down with a warm drink and stay inside – but there is plenty of evidence that we should get outside into nature and any sunlight that might be around!  I hear many people say how they really struggle in January and February when there doesn’t seem to be much to look forward to and the warmth of summer feels a long way away.  However – remember that we have had the shortest day back in December and now we can start to look forward to longer days – honestly!  So here are some top tips to nurture yourself during this winter season:

  1. Get outside

I am sure you have heard of the sentence from the famous Lake District fell walker, Alfred Wainwright “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”  So even in the rain we have no excuse! Realistically however, a daily walk in nature is known to have a positive impact on our mental health. Even if you live in a built up area, find a local park, listen to the birds, notice the trees and absorb the beauty that we so often take for granted. When you have time maybe plan bigger trips, such as longer country walks (with a country pub or tea room at the end!); go foraging; hire some bikes and research some local cycle paths; or try something new through an organised activity centre.

  1. Get some exercise

This one also links to getting outside. Or get to your local gym or exercise classes.  Work out what you like doing and find a class or centre that suits you. If you’re a big ‘Strictly’ fan for example, then try a Zumba class or specialist dance centre offering beginners classes. You will not be alone in thinking you are the only new person or feeling like you don’t know what to do. Good exercise instructors will make the class accessible and fun and you will feel great at the end. But on dark evenings it can be difficult to motivate yourself so check out what is available on line. At the YMCA some of our classes are available on Zoom so you can still join in from home. YouTube has an amazing array of free classes so check them out – Joe Wicks for example, is great for motivating you through your fitness journey from your lounge! Our Health & Wellbeing Manager at YMCA Brunel Group, Simon, says “focus on what you want to achieve and what makes you feel good. At the YMCA our staff work with our customers to advise and support them on their wellbeing journey, tailor making their programme to their needs”.  Joining a facility like the YMCA in Bath is a great way to improve your wellbeing and also meet new friends and feel like part of a community.

  1. Take up a hobby

Winter can be the perfect time to try something new – again it may link in to getting outside or doing some exercise – but also may be something that works well from home such as art, crafting, sewing, DIY, knitting or learning a language. Again, there are so many free tutorials on YouTube and social media that you will be spoilt for choice.  Do a little research and see what appeals.  Who knows, you may discover a talent you didn’t know you had.

  1. Plan something to look forward to

Whilst I am all for living in the moment and embracing opportunities – there is something wonderful about planning an event or holiday in the future that gives you something to look forward to and work towards. Sarah in Marketing says “At this time of year I really do love having some trips planned for the warmer months, or a trip abroad. This year I have plans for a trip to Cornwall and a walking holiday in Spain. It makes me smile just thinking about them”.

  1. Embrace the season

Wintering can be beautiful. Embracing this time of year and learning from nature that it is the season to slow down and go more inward. Wearing warm clothes and reading a good book (or watching a favourite movie) – being cosy. Thinking through ideas for the future and planting some seeds to nurture and potentially grow in the months ahead. Light some candles and relax – take some time out for yourself. Wrap up warm and go for walks, drink warming drinks and meet with friends.

If however, things feel too much then talk to someone – a friend, counsellor or doctor. Don’t suffer in silence – seek help and support. Winter a season that some love and others struggle with. As I write this the snowdrops are coming through and with them comes the optimism of Spring.

I hope you can find ways to embrace the season.

YMCA Brunel Group