Suggestion 1: Invest in a light box. Some people find that the effect of long winters and the depression that they can bring can be shortened with the use of light boxes, which deliver a dose of bright light similar to daylight. I like the idea of this. I found it really difficult to get up in the dark during last winter so I’m planning on getting a light box this year. My cousin warned me, though, that the light must to be bright enough to wake you up. She slept right thorough hers. And through the alarm… On the other hand, when I was in Spitsbergen in the Arctic, researching the book I’m currently writing, a number of people told me that they simply party through the long dark winter nights and that gets them through fine! Whatever works…
Suggestion 2: Get out in the garden or buy a window box if you live in a flat. Gardening has often been cited as a hobby ripe for getting people out of depression. Apparently that's because it takes people out of their own thoughts and helps them focus on something that needs their care and attention. I’m not good at gardening despite coming from a green-fingered family. But I love the idea of being outside and being close to nature. I have my most inspirational story ideas when I’m walking in the countryside, so I can see the pleasure in this.
Suggestion 3: Physical exercise, be it swimming, playing badminton, or going on a 10-mile hike - often tops lists as a way to lift spirits. And it's been proven to aid mental health as well as giving physical benefits. Aerobic activity (of all kinds!) releases endorphins and that's a natural, good free drug. Walking the dog works for me!
Suggestion 4: Cook a meal from scratch. Now I particularly like this one, especially as my dh is a great cook! “Food is destiny," one psychologist commented. "We are what we eat in every sense of the word. And food is the physical pleasure that lasts longest in life.”
Suggestion 5: Stroke a cat. Just not our cat, because she bites and that’s stressful.
Suggestion 6: Pat yourself on the back. We’re all great and we deserve to tell ourselves that.
Suggestion 7: Value our friends and family. Having meaningful relationships is a really good way to boost a sense of wellbeing. Different people needs different amounts of intimacy, but we all need connections. Just being part of a web that weaves together, and needs the other parts to exist makes us feel good.
Suggestion 8: And finally – read a romance book (or several!) It’s no surprise to those of us in the know that sales of romances have increased by over 30% during these tough times. Romances are the perfect antidote to anxiety and stress. They take you away from all that. They have happy endings. They make you feel good!
So what is your preferred form of stress-busting activity? Share the secret!