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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beat the Blues with a good book!

What is your favourite stress-buster? In the news this week was the story that charities are calling for a nationwide campaign to help promote mental health after a survey suggested that more people are growing anxious. According to the Mental Health Foundation people are more fearful than they were 10 years ago and more people are suffering from anxiety and depression. I suppose this is hardly surprising with so much bad news in the media, the credit crunch and the prospect of looming global depression. So let’s dispel all that gloom and think about happy things. Here are some nice suggestions that were put forward of ways to beat the blues:

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!


Jan Jones said...

Take time off in the company of good friends now and again. Like, er, next week for instance...

Nicola Cornick said...

Good one, Jan. I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly!

Nicola Cornick said...

After hearing Susan Boyle's moving rendition of "I dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent I was reminded of something I had missed off the list - join a choir. Okay so we can't all sound like Susan but I found singing in a choir uplifting and fun, a really valuable group activity, emotional, stirring and inspiring.