January is often a difficult month for many, with the Christmas festivities behind us and we are in the depths of winter. The days still seem dark and spring and summer seem a long way ahead.
On top of this, this year we are in another lockdown to stop the spread of Covid-19 and our resilience, wellbeing and mental health has already been challenged by this for the past 9 months.
It would be easy to fall into a ‘doom and gloom mentality’ but I am thinking of the bulbs that are pushing up through the earth. Whilst we are in the depths of winter, they are the signs that spring is on its way and that brings us hope, just like the vaccine.
I take comfort in the fact that the days are gradually getting longer. My weather app tells me that in only 2 weeks’ time, sunset will be 30 minutes later.
Here are my top tips for maintaining your resilience over the next few months:
- Get outdoors and connect with nature – however tempting it is to stay dry and warm indoors. There has been a lot research into the impact of being outdoors in nature on our wellbeing and mental health. This includes:
a. Stress Recovery Theory (Ulrich et al, 1991) and how being in natural environments can help people recover from stressful events.
b. Forest Bathing – a practice that has been used in Japan for centuries
c. Attention Restoration Theory (Kaplan &Talbot, 1983) – the restorative nature of natural environments on the brain
Ideally go outside in daylight – yes you can find the time! If you are struggling to find time during the working day, take a phone call or Zoom outside while walking. Follow #walkingmeetings for more ideas.
- Connect with your breath – this is one of the foundations for mindfulness. Breath is the substance of life and reminds us of the here and now. This is also great if you combine it with being outside and take some big inhalations of fresh air.
- Manage your thoughts – choose the positive ones rather than negative ones. This also links with my 2nd point about connecting with your breath and mindfulness. Remembering that we have choices including how we think can be positive and enabling.
- Limit your social media and news exposure to positive and factual/informative – I don’t think I need say any more about this!
- Connect with other people using all the tools that are available – phone calls, video, or perhaps even send something through the post. If connecting with people is not what you need, connect with something you enjoy such as a hobby or interest.
Remember that there are many things that you can do to maintain and improve your resilience. What will you choose to do? Let me know in the comments below.