By Penny Finnegan, Stress and Anxiety Therapist
If you find this time of year has a negative impact on your mood, read on to understand how incorporating 3 elements into your life can help you to protect and nurture your mental health, not just for now, but as a helpful tool throughout the year.
January is typically associated with being a gloomy and depressing time of year: it’s cold and dark (and wet!) outside; Christmas is over and with it, the hangover of potential debt, over indulgence and new year resolutions to tackle. While most of us may feel temporarily down from time to time, it’s important to differentiate between this and experiencing depression, which if left untreated, can take over and detrimentally affect our day-to-day lives.
When we feel low, or depressed, we tend to do less, lose motivation and may stop doing activities we used to enjoy, or isolate ourselves from the people we care about. So it pays to prioritise our mental health in the same way that we do our physical health. It’s a cliche, but prevention is always better than the cure and increasing our activity and exercise levels is a proven way to improve our mental health and reduce our risk of depression (Morres et al, 2018).
Benefits of increasing our activity and exercise levels
- Improves our mood
- Reduces symptoms of stress
- Helps to alleviate anxiety (and uses up adrenaline created by it)
- Increases motivation
- Gives a sense of achievement
- Stimulates the body to produce natural anti-depressants
- Improves brain health and slows cognitive decline
Create a healthy balance of A C E
You can make a start today, by scheduling 3 daily activities (1 from each) that give you a sense of:
- Achievement – 1 activity
- Closeness to others – 1 activity
- Enjoyment – 1 activity
- Start small, e.g. an activity could be just 2, or 5 minutes long so that it feels realistic and achievable, e.g. an ‘Achievement’ activity may be to make the bed, rather than tidy the whole house. Or, a ‘Closeness to others’ activity could be picking up the phone and having a chat with a friend, rather than going out and meeting in a coffee shop.
- Choose activities that are important to you and meaningful and align with your own sense of who you are.
- You may like to keep a log of your activity as you progress. If you don’t do any one day, no matter – you can start again the next…
Starting to ACE your own day, can help to support and protect your own mental health, so that you can better weather the colder months, or indeed, any other time of the year.
If would like some support with your mental health why not book an appointment with Penny at our Thornbury Clinic and start your journey to a happier and more fulfilled life. contact us on 01454 838366 or book online at www.thethornburyclinic.co.uk.