Dark nights and cold weather can affect our moods, our health and our wellbeing. When you're feeling down, it can be tough to pick yourself up and move forward. Some days are better than others. On those days that go less well, we usually end up being hard on ourselves.
The thing to remember here is, you have a lot more control of how happy you feel every day than you think. It just starts with developing some good personal habits.
These five daily habits are so easy to adopt, you'll be shocked how quickly you start to notice your mood improving.
1. Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outside the four walls of your home can be an instant mood lifter. Ever walked barefoot in the warm sand or dewy grass? It's very grounding. And being able to physically feel the ground helps your body to achieve balance and a sense of serenity. Being in nature is stressless. It demands very little of us. It hints at relaxation, beauty (which often goes unrecognised) and a sense of bliss. If you don't have the time to go outside during office hours, add some greenery to your desk for some instant plant therapy.
2. Learn Something—Anything!—New
It's a core need for psychological wellbeing. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy.
I'm not talking about reading the textbook cover-to-cover kind of learning. Set an intention to learn something every day, either new knowledge or insight into the world. It might be sitting down with a team member from another department and learning about their latest project, or reading one chapter of a book each night, or even listening to a podcast.
Why does this make you feel good about yourself? For one, you'll have a lot more to contribute—or brag about—to your friends or co-workers if you need some small talk topics. And, you can end every day knowing you're just a bit smarter than yesterday (yes, I permit you to make this claim).
3. Trust yourself.
Believe in your inner resources, no matter what, and you'll grow from the experience. I believe that the answers usually lie within, and you are probably smart enough to figure out what you need to do. Learn to trust your gut instinct and give yourself a little time and patience.
Trusting yourself can build up your confidence, make it easier for you to make decisions, and reduce your stress levels. And the good news is that even if you don't trust yourself now, with some effort, you can build up that trust over time.
4. Watch your thoughts.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, saying things to ourselves that we would never dare say to a loved one. But if you genuinely want to feel better about yourself, you have to change how you talk to yourself.
Your thinking will never be 100 per cent positive. Learn to ignore the negative thoughts and stay open to other ideas that will help you move in a positive direction.
A great exercise is to find a picture of your younger self and tell her everything you would say to your best friend or loved one if they were sitting next to you. Think back to your 15-year-old self – what would they benefit from hearing? How about your 11-year-old self who is about to start secondary school? Consider yourself aged 25 –What advice would you give them? What do you wish they knew then?
5. Practice Gratitude
The benefits of practising gratitude are nearly endless. Having gratitude is a powerful way of making you feel better about yourself. Being thankful for all the good things helps you to focus on the positives, and it puts you in a better frame of mind. It helps with your self-esteem, happiness, and overall wellbeing.
Gratitude is a way of making good things visible. It can be particularly hard to see the positives when you're feeling depressed, anxious, or if you have low self-esteem. Remember that negative thoughts can distort your reality, but there are always positives, even if you don't see them right away.
While expressing gratitude can lift your mood, it doesn't mean you have to write a long list of reasons why you're thankful. According to Happify, research conducted by psychologist Robert Emmons suggested that just by briefly writing in your gratitude journal daily can increase your wellbeing and overall life satisfaction.
6. Be Nice to Yourself
The easiest and almost-too-obvious habit: Take care of yourself.
Now obviously, this looks different to different people. To me, it means eating well, exercising and repeating positive affirmations. For others, it could mean a warm shower, a clean bed to crawl into a night, eating a healthy breakfast or getting at least eight hours of sleep.
Figure out what makes you feel good and do it every day. Maybe that means setting aside alone time in the evenings, or perhaps it means scheduling a weekend get-together with friends to look forward to after a long week. Feeling good about yourself starts from within, so make sure you're making it easy for yourself to make it a regular habit and not a chore.
7. Have Me Time
Thinking that alone time with some ice cream while you watch the season finale of the latest box set you've downloaded isn't good for you? Think again. According to Science Daily, a study conducted by Dr Almuth McDowall suggested that quality me-time improves your psychological wellbeing. "Overall, our research suggests if people take time out to recharge their batteries and experience the time taken out as high quality, this reaps benefits for their own psychological wellbeing," said Dr Almuth McDowall.
One of the best ways to start the day is by simply letting go of your thoughts. Scientific studies have shown what has long been known — meditation works. It is a quick stress releaser. It speeds recovery and healing and lessens pain. It lowers your blood pressure and gives you more energy, more stamina, and faster reflexes. It improves memory and increases your ability to concentrate. In general, you become more balanced, mentally and emotionally. Anxiety and depression subside, and creativity blossoms.
Meditation will teach you to reconnect with yourself and tap into the limitless potential within you. You'll feel revitalised and renewed. Through this process, relationships become enriched and enlivened, work becomes inspired, and you'll begin to discover the potentials of your own positive growth.
Meditation keeps you emotionally current in your life. It's like a living journal: you always know where you are. Your heart opens. You learn acceptance, appreciation, and compassion without even trying. By staying connected with yourself and your inner knowing, you reduce your stress level, and you generally relax, improving your overall health.
'Wellness feeds your soul and makes you feel good' - Iman