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Seasonal habits you can stick to this winter

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Thats it, it's October and the seasons are changing. Slowly the darkness sets in as the months transpire, plunging us into cold and darkness. We spend eight months in the UK with a lack of sunlight which can take its toll on mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

Habits we formed over the summer now seem unattractive and challenging. Perhaps, we had agreed to go to the gym four times a week, or eat less sugar. Those expectations we place upon ourselves now allow us to fall short, feeling unmotivated and uncommitted with our failures.

However, do we ever consider that it's not our fault? perhaps the expectations we place upon ourselves need to be seasonally realigned and reset.

Changing the way we live during thee cold months can encourage kindness to ourselves and increase realistic goal formation. So here it is, my top 7 habits to support balance, wellbeing and kindness.

1) Lunchtime walks: Switch that dreaded evening workout for a daytime walk. This habit change enhances your mood by utilising the daylight hours. It allows you to make the most of the sunlight, increasing your vitamin D absorption, gratitude levels as well as being a habit you are more likely to stick to than an unenthused afterwork HIIT class in the dark.

Overcoming the barriers: Make this habit easy and exciting!

  • Buy a decent winter coat.

  • Research a good paths to take.

  • Download a decent audio book or podcast to make it more enjoyable.

  • Prepare your lunch in advance to enjoy on the go or in the park to save time and make the process seamless.

  • Ask a work colleague or a friend to join you and increase accountability.

2) Sugary treats: sometimes you need them, it's hard to not feel fatigued during these winter months and so you reach for a sugary snack. Instead of the guilt, add a healthy snack to combine it with. Adding fruit, nuts or yogurt you change the composition and therefore the way we metabolise that sugar, leading to less sugar spikes and overall balancing your energy levels in the day.

  • You can also find a healthier alternative to store bought treats (check out my Brain Boosting Bites).

  • Other alternatives include switching that bar of chocolate for a a darker version (70-90%) dark chocolate can reduce cravings, increase serotonin levels and antioxidants levels. It is also naturally caffeinated to support cognitive function and energy.

3) Consistency is the key: Motivation wavers frequently but keeping up the consistency reduces the likelihood you will quite. even if that means going to the gym for just 10 minutes or getting on your yoga mat for a quick stretch, it is better than nothing at all. So be kind to yourself and if you just don't feel up for a big workout make it easy.

4) Remove the barriers: Whats stopping you from doing that activity?

  • Lay your gym wear out the night before.

  • Make a tick list of what you need to get done the night before so you wake up and just do it.

  • Only bring healthy snacks into work or keep them out of your home.

  • Batch cook and freeze healthy stews, soups and meals so you can prepare healthy wholesome meals in advance, taking out the barrier on days you have low energy or little time.

5) Practice self care rewards rather than treats: instead of reaching for a glass of wine or a snack as a reward try and replace them with activities you enjoy.These will satisfy your reward centre far longer than short term treats. This can retrain your brain to seek better habits for comfort and satisfaction rather than 'quick fixes'.

  • Take a bath, light some candles, turn off the artificial lights and soak whilst relaxing to some music or a podcast.

  • Create a yoga and meditation space. Create an area in your house thats in sight and easy to set up/you don't put away. Place plants, candles, cushions and blankets within this space and music. By creating a calming space thats in view means you are more likely to utilise it. Perhaps you have five minutes whilst waiting for your dinner to cook or the kettle to boil. Pop some music on and start creating a yoga flow or stretch, or practice a quick meditation.

  • Call a friend you have been meaning to catch up with. The happy hormones produced from social interactions and connectivity last much longer than a bar of chocolate.

6) Create a night time routine: this can encourage better sleep and help set you up for the next day.

  • Change your phone settings so you are not disturbed after a certain time or to even remind you that its your bedtime soon. Being on our phones late at night leads to over stimulation and disturbed sleep.

  • Reduce light pollution in your house, dim/turn off lights to reduce irritation/stimulation or invest in a pair of LED reducing glasses. too much light pollution effects your circadian rhythm and overall sleep.

  • Eat no later than 2-3 hours before bedtime , eating too late can also cause sleep disturbances. Particularly avoid sugar which can increase inflammation in the body and overall stress and also effects the stage of sleep which encourages healing and restoration.

7) Practice gratitude and acts of kindness: gratitude changes the neural pathways and connectivity in the brain having a positive and protect impact on the brain. Acts of kindness as well create happiness and encourage confidence and overall emotional balance as well as protecting you against chronic health. surprisingly its not just performing acts of kind that lead to feelings of happiness. If you receive an act of kindness or even observing one can lead to a positive impact on your health.

  • Think of five things your grateful for

  • Practice mindfulness to encourage gratitude in real time

  • Practice kindness once a day, even if it's something simple like asking your Barista at your local coffee shop how they are.

Thank you for reading, for any further questions about habit changes or anything wellness related please feel free to message me.

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