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Weather the Storm this Winter

Hands up who’s exasperated by the news? Yep… Me too! It seems that for the last six or so years, we’ve been treated to non-stop tidal waves of uncertainty that have literally plagued our moods and emotions

. Between the societal divide of Brexit, numerous political scandals, a global shut down, escalating wars and now the anticipation of a repeat of the winter of discontent, is there any wonder that more and more people are mentally checking out?

Uncertainty can have a hugely, negative impact on our minds and can evoke behaviours that are not the usual. Financial worries probably top the list for most people and balancing the books is becoming more stressful as the nights draw in. Pair that with demanding workloads and the usual daily grind, we can easily find ourselves in an escalating spiral of feeling overwhelmed.

A staggering one in six people are thought to report issues such as depression or anxiety in any given week in the UK. With the unreported numbers likely to be much higher, it seems we are now in a whole new pandemic that is largely being left ignored.

A popular human trend during winter is to hibernate and I, for one have been known to do that! Who wouldn’t want to get under a blanket with bottomless cocoa and just watch old films until March? But hiding under a quilted cocoon although comforting, isn’t the best for keeping you calm, focused and measured when life is stressful. So, what can you do to keep your mind healthy during testing times? Well, it might seem overly simplified and cliched, but the best things in life, still really are free!

Beach walks, country walks, park walks, city walks… All free.

Have you really explored your area? Do you know its history?

I recently took part in a local treasure hunt that saw me pounding the streets of Fishguard figuring out cryptic clues that not only revealed how competitive I am in contests with absolutely no prize, but also gave me a whole new perspective on where I live. The street names, memorial benches, architectural details, historical moments… All hidden in plain sight! This eye-opener shone a new light on how I can clear my head, without putting my hand in my pocket.

We’re very quick to ‘need’ the latest gear, fad contraption or toughest gym class, in order to pay lip service to our wellbeing, but the reality is that we actually don’t need to spend a penny! This winter, embrace the weather and get walking!

Braving the elements is a sure-fired way to get those endorphins bubbling in your system. If it’s raining, put a waterproof on, if there’s a cold wind, then layer up and let’s stop avoiding getting out into the fresh air because the conditions are less than perfect. This is the UK, they rarely are, so let’s just deal with that fact! Instead, make a challenge of it, see it as a fun experience, appreciate the exhilaration! Creating healthy habits in natural surroundings are some of the best ways to keep the mind functioning positively, when you are under intense stress and pressure.

Building the habit right by focusing on the ‘doing’ over distance. Getting the steps in is great, no doubt about it, but let’s be realistic here. We don’t all have hours on end, to wistfully meander through the local neighbourhood, foraging with our wicker baskets each day. That would be far too convenient! So rather than focusing on endurance, just live for the experience, as that’s the vital nugget that will reset your frame of mind. Look around you, notice colours, sounds, shapes and all the sensory joy that a heavy downpour gives you when that rain bounces off your cheeks. Walking can be a great experience if you allow it to be and wins first prize rosette for economical activities for the gazillionth year running.

Let’s be frank, walking won’t change your situation, but it does have the capability to change your perspective and reaction to it. In fact, just a thirty-minute stroll can lower the blood pressure and promote a healthier nervous system, which will help you better cope with life’s stresses. And if you regularly build a few sessions into your week, then you’ll begin to notice a strengthened more determined approach to what’s going on around you in life. It’s a no brainer!

With uncertainty of all sorts of storms this winter, don’t stay under the duvet. Instead, stick two fingers up and make weathering the storm work for you.

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