Five ways to look after your winter well-being

The evenings are drawing in and its nearly time to embrace the winter. But for some, that can be easier said than done. With the shortening of the days, lack of light can disrupt our internal body clocks. Acording to research, when you get your light is just as important as how much light you get, which is crucial to regulating our sleep patterns. Inclement weather can limit our outdoor activities and how much time we spend outdoors. All of these combined, can make it more difficult to stay motivated and engaged in daily activities.

On the other hand, these shorter days can also help us to begin a cycle of rest that is fitting with the season. Rest and relaxation is an underrated, and frankly, unpractised, activity. Taking time to sit by the fire, reading a book – hot chocolate in hand, long slow walks through the countryside or practicing mindfulness techniques, are just a handful of ways we can protect our emotional and physical health. Here are five other suggestions to boost your mood during the coming season.

Get active and eat well
Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. And you don’t necessarily need to run a marathon or sign up to a gym membership. Walking is simple, free and can be done anywhere. It also counts towards your NHS-recommended 150 minutes of movement.
Food is also a huge contributor to our moods. Consuming more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, and reducing your reliance on caffeine, refined sugars and processed foods is important to creating a healthy gut microbiome, which scientists say is directly linked to brain health.

Spend time in nature
We’ve written about this before – being in nature is good for us. Access to early morning sunlight can help reset your circadian rhythm and research points to evidence that being outdoors and connected with nature can have positive impact on mood and can help with anxiety or depression, even reducing pain and increasing time to recovery for post-operative patients. Whilst you’re out there, why not do a spot of gardening? It’s incredibly good for our overall well-being, as we at the Garden know only too well. It’s a great form of light exercise, a good way to absorb some much needed Vitamin D, and tending to plants can be incredibly therapeutic and fulfilling.

Nurture your social connections
As humans, we are inherently social creatures and have a deep need for connection and belonging. Social groups can provide us with a sense of identity and people who have access to supportive relationships are more likely to make healthier choices. In these busy times, it can be hard to prioritise relationships outside of our homes, but spending time with our friends and families, and nurturing those relationships, can be key to how satisfied we are with our lot in life. You could schedule a regular walk with a friend, slow down for a cuppa with your colleagues, join a class or workshop to meet some new people and expand your perspective.

Give back through volunteering
And if for one reason or another, your social circle is not what it once was, why not consider volunteering? There are hundreds of opportunities to give up some of your time and experience to good causes aligned with your interests and passions. By helping others, you not only contribute to your community, but you’ll also experience a sense of fulfilment and purpose. Volunteering can also provide opportunities to meet new people and to connect with others. Engaging in acts of kindness and making a difference in the lives of others can bring immense joy and satisfaction.

Helmsley Walled Garden is not only a popular tourist attraction, but also a charitable organisation that supports over 100 volunteers. This inclusive space fosters social connections, new skills, and exceptional horticultural practices, all while enhancing the garden’s natural beauty and visitor experience. A beautiful garden, changing lives. Every purchase and donation goes to support our work. We’re looking for more kiosk volunteers for next year. Our kiosk and shop are the first port of call for our visitors. They get the opportunity to chat and welcome everyone to the garden, supported by our lovely front-of-house Louise. If you’re interested in applying, then please get in touch with Louise.

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