Ways to boost your mood

9 little ways to boost your mood

I have to be honest, I don’t like the word ‘coronacoaster’ and I’m loath to use it in this post, but I have to admit it does a pretty good job of describing how life has been for the past year.

There have been so many ups and downs, so many moments of hope and community spirit and unexpected joy, followed by moments of frustration and despair and grief in all its forms.

If you’re in one of the dips at the moment, there are some small things you can try that don’t take too much effort or energy but can really help to give your mood a little bit of a boost until things start to even out again.

 

Have a little dance party

Put on your favourite music, turn it up loud and have a dance around.

A study carried out by university researchers at York and Sheffield found that dancing to music for just 5 minutes is enough to give us a happiness boost, as well as improve our creative-thinking patterns.

And if you choose upbeat songs from the past that bring up a sense of nostalgia, so much the better.  Songs that take us back to fun, joyful moments in our lives have been found to give us a dopamine boost and make us feel happier.

 

Have a cwtch

An incredibly quick way to get a happiness hit is to have a hug with someone; so grab your partner, your child, or your dog and have a cuddle.

Studies have shown that hugs, cuddles, and cwtches help our bodies produce both oxytocin and endorphins, which make us feel happier.

The more hugs you can get in a day the better, because they can also help boost your immune system, make you feel less afraid, lower your blood pressure, and help you communicate better.

 

Watch something silly

Get on YouTube and find some videos to watch that you know will make you laugh.

It might be a compilation of babies laughing, or the internet classic of animals doing silly things (my children have discovered these recently and think they’re hilarious!).

For me it will always be TV and movie bloopers.  They crack me up every time.  It’s something to do with seeing the actors break character and the laughter that follows is always so infectious.

If you’ve not seen the clip of Jennifer Aniston in hysterical laughter in the bagpipe scene in Friends, you need to go and watch it right now!

 

Go for a walk in nature

I know going for another walk might not feel like the most fun thing to do right now, but there are quite a few great reasons for getting out there anyway.

A study at the University of Vermont found that visiting an urban park gave people a happiness boost that lasted up to four hours after they left.  The effect of spending time outside nature was so strong that the researchers said it was equivalent to the mood-boost that people get at Christmas.

Loads of other studies have found the same thing – spending time out in nature makes us feel happier, calmer, and just better all round.

 

Call your ‘feel-good’ friend

You know that friend or family member who always manages to put a smile on your face?  The one who just always seems to be upbeat, and whose energy is infectious?  Grab the phone and give them a call, or arrange a zoom get-together with them.

A study at the University of Warwick found that we can pick up moods from other people, so making the effort to spend time with happy people really can make us feel happier too.

 

Do some random acts of kindness

Even the smallest act of kindness towards someone else can give us a boost of happiness.

Doing nice things for other people, from tweeting about a positive experience with a small business to adding a few items to your weekly shop for the local food bank, can make a big difference to how happy you feel.

So get together with your family and come up with a list of random acts of kindness you can carry out together – I’ve put together a list of kindness ideas if you’re not sure where to start.

Getting your children involved will boost the whole family’s happiness levels – studies have shown that just watching acts of kindness gives us a dose of oxytocin (the love hormone) which helps lower stress and anxiety levels as well as helping us feel more connected to our loved ones.

 

Wish others well

If you need something even smaller than a random act of kindness, try simply wishing people well.

Literally, as you pass someone on your next walk try giving them a smile and thinking to yourself that you wish for them to be well and happy.

A study carried out at Iowa State University found that offering kindness to others, even if it’s just in our thoughts, can reduce anxiety and increase happiness.

 

 

Give yourself a treat

Find something that feels like a little treat to you, and then make time in your day to indulge in it.

It could baking a cake to enjoy with your family, or getting something special in for dinner with your partner.

It might be curling up for half an hour with a good book and something chocolatey.

Maybe it’s a bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon or painting your nails in a pretty new colour.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as it is something that you love, something that you really enjoy and that makes you feel good.

 

Curate your social media feeds

Social media has a strange way of making us feel bad about ourselves, our homes, and our lives in general if we’re not careful.

So give yourself a happiness boost by curating your feeds.

Go through all the accounts you’re following and either mute or unfollow any that make you feel ‘less’ in any way.  Then find new accounts to follow that will bring a dose of joy to your feeds.

Whether it’s cute animals, inspiring quotes, honest and funny parenting stories, pretty interiors or bright colourful images, find the things that make you feel happy when you scroll past them and fill your feeds with them instead of the things that drain you.

Coping in lockdown as an introvert parent

Coping with lockdown as an introvert parent

Remember back in March 2020, when we went into the first national lockdown and there were all sorts of jokes flying around the internet about how this was the introverts’ time to shine?

It did seem almost like an introvert dream come true; the chance to stay at home all day, with the perfect excuse to not go out and socialise.  And chances are for a lot of people that’s still the case.

If you’re like me though, and you’re definitely on the introverted side of the spectrum and you also happen to be a parent, then you might be finding life in lockdown is actually much harder than you thought it would be.

 

Introverts enjoy having time alone.  Spending time with other people might still be fun for them, but it drains their energy and they’ll generally need to have some time to themselves afterwards to recharge.

So suddenly being told to stay at home sounds great, until you realise that you’ll never truly get to spend time by yourself at home when your family are also there with you.  All.  The.  Time.

We all love and adore our families, of course we do, and I’m so grateful not to be trying to get through lockdown on my own, but it can be exhausting to an introvert to always be surrounded by people.  It’s never truly quiet.  There are always demands on your time and attention, especially if your children are young.

I’m still working out how to cope with it all to be honest, but here are some things that I’ve found helpful and that might help you too:

 

Communicate your needs to your family

If you’re struggling and you’ve not done this already, then take a bit of time to talk to your partner and your children about what you need from them.

Chances are they all experience things differently to you, so might not know how much you need some time to yourself to recharge, even if they’re introverts too.  So tell them.  Explain that you need a bit of time, regularly, to have some quiet and to be by yourself.

Be clear and ask for what you need.  And while you’re at it, check in with them and ask what they need too.

 

Find ways to create quiet at home

Once you’ve asked for what you need, you’ll then have to find a way to actually get the quiet you’re desperate for.

You might be able to arrange your working days so that your partner can take the children out somewhere for an hour, so you can actually have the whole house to yourself.

If that’s not an option though you need to look at things like noise cancelling headphones so you can block out the sounds of a house full of people.

The other issue you might have is with needing to buy yourself a bit of time by finding ways to occupy your children that don’t require your constant input.  Card games are great because they don’t need much set-up time and most of the time the rules are simple enough that they don’t need a parent to keep stepping in with explanations.  My children have been really enjoying Dino Dump this year, but if they’re not in the mood to play together then that old classic Solitaire is always a hit too.

And if all else fails then there’s nothing wrong with the children having some more screentime than normal, as far as I’m concerned!

 

Try meditating to get your zen back

When you do manage to get some quiet time to yourself, try using it to meditate for a while.

There are loads of guided meditations on YouTube which are great for beginners who aren’t sure where to start.  Or you could try downloading an app like headspace or calm, but you do have to pay to access all their features.

If meditation feels too far out of your comfort zone then try a bit of mindfulness instead.

There are some great ideas for practising mindfulness throughout the day in this set of mindfulness exercise cards from Mindkompass on Etsy.  Each card gives you a prompt or an exercise to try to leave you feeling calmer and more grounded.

 

Say no to zoom

Video calls have been a bit of a lifeline for everyone throughout lockdown, giving us all a way to stay connected and socialise with friends and family while we can’t see them in person.

The thing with zoom though, is that it can be even more draining than actually meeting up with people at times.  The social cues are harder to read, it’s too easy to talk over each other, and it can feel like you have to be ‘on’ the whole time with the camera on you.

So if you’re being asked to join in with zoom quizzes and video chats all the time, and finding it a struggle, then pick a few nights a week that you want to keep zoom-free.  Make this a non-negotiable night off from all kinds of video chats, phone calls and other virtual meet-ups.

Having these boundaries in place can really help give you back some time to recharge your introvert batteries.

 

Make an effort to socialise in the ways that work for you

As an introvert you might find socialising in big groups draining, but enjoy spending time with a small group of close friends, or one-on-one with people.

If you’re missing those close connections that you normally enjoy then find ways to get that.

The lockdown restrictions in your area might allow you to meet up with one other person for a walk, so reach out to a close friend and arrange to get together.  If that’s still not an option, then arrange a phone call instead, to keep those connections going.

 

Create a relaxing bedtime routine 

If you find that you’re completely worn out by bedtime, but still somehow find it hard to switch off from the demands of juggling work, school work, family life and everything in between, then it’s worth creating a bedtime routine to help.

Here are some things you could try:

  • turn off the tv and put your phone away about an hour before you want to be falling asleep
  • try reading to wind down instead of watching another episode of whatever it is you’re binge-watching
  • make yourself a warm, calming drink, like a mug of night-time tea or some golden milk 
  • follow a guided sleep meditation or watch some ASMR videos to help you relax
  • use a few sprays of Rescue night spray to help you feel calm and help switch off your mind from unwanted, repetitive thoughts
  • have a warm bath with lavender bubble bath or bath salts

 

I know that none of these suggestions will make up for actually being able to take a proper break from everything and having time alone to restore your social energy supplies.  But while we’re in lockdown I’m kind of in the mindset that any little thing that makes even a little bit of difference is worth trying!

So hopefully if you feel the same way, the ideas in this post will help make a bit of a difference to how you cope in lockdown as an introvert parent.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  How are you finding life in lockdown?

7 little things to do to break the monotony of lockdown

7 little ways to break the monotony of lockdown

Life during lockdown starts to feel like groundhog day after a while doesn’t it?

Each day starts to feel the same when you’re so restricted in what you can do, where you can go, and who you can see.  Part of the problem is that once you get into that lockdown rut of doing the same thing day in, day out, it can be really hard to find the motivation to do things differently.

And for busy families juggling home life, work, and school it can feel almost impossible to find the time to do anything differently.  You don’t have to do anything too crazy though.  Just making a few small changes to your routine can be enough to mix things up.

Here are 7 little things you can try to shake up the monotony of life in lockdown and hopefully make things feel a bit less groundhog-day-like.

 

1. Mix up your meal plan

I don’t know about you, but I find it all too easy to end up eating the same meals week after week.  Especially if I do the food shopping online and just add items from my favourites list each time.

So mixing things up and trying some new recipes can be a great way to start getting away from that feeling that every day and week is the same during lockdown.

There are loads of ways to do this too, you could:

  • browse recipes online or flick through old recipe books for inspiration
  • hand control over to your children and get them to choose something new they want to try
  • try a recipe delivery service like Hello Fresh or Gusto
  • see which local restaurants are offering delivery or make-it-yourself boxes
  • keep it as simple as having breakfast for dinner now and then

 

2. Find new routes to walk as a family.

I know.  We’re all fed up of the highlight of our day being ‘going for a walk’, but when it’s pretty much the only thing you can do outside the house then I think we need to keep embracing it!

It is another thing that we can fall into a rut with though, walking to the same places via the same route every time we go out.

So make an effort to try and find new places locally that you can walk to.  Let the children get curious and turn down different roads and see where you end up.

You can also mix up your walks with the children by turning them into scavenger hunts, going nature spotting, or trying a photo walk.

 

3. Find a new spot at home

We’re all creatures of habit really, and when we’re at home all the time we naturally find ourselves drawn to our normal ‘spots’ during the day.

After a while though, sitting in your same old seat, looking at the same four walls around you can really start to get old.  So try looking for a new ‘spot’ to sit in.  Even just sitting on the other end of the sofa with your coffee can give you a slightly different perspective on the room!

If you’re working from home then try moving your desk to a new part of the house, or set yourself up to work from bed for the afternoon.

You could also change things up at home by:

  • rearranging the furniture in a room to give it a whole new look
  • repainting a wall or hanging up some new wall art or family photos
  • getting new bedding and soft furnishings in a colour you wouldn’t usually pick

 

4. Learn a new skill

Life during lockdown might be monotonous, but for loads of people it’s also still incredibly busy.  And you might think you don’t have any time to learn a new skill during all this, but don’t dismiss this idea out of hand.

Learning a new skill is a great way to break out of going through your day on auto-pilot, and doesn’t have to take much time.  There are all sorts of things you can learn, either by yourself or with your children, in about 10 minutes a day, like:

  • a new language – I’ve been learning Welsh on Duolingo since the first lockdown and it’s brilliant!
  • first aid – you could look for a course to follow at home or watch videos from someone like St John’s ambulance on YouTube
  • how to draw – there are so many drawing tutorials to follow on YouTube that break it down and make it fun
  • playing a musical instrument

 

5. Change up your coffee break

Along the same lines of mixing up your meal plan, trying something new with your coffee break can give you something little to look forward to and get you out of the rut of having the same thing, at the same time, day in day out.

You could try a new flavoured coffee, or if you’re a tea-drinker then try something different like biscuit tea for a sweeter drink.

And if you always have the same treats alongside your cuppa, then try mixing that up too.  Bake up some chocolate banana bread, make some oaty biscoff biscuits or try your hand at slow-cooker fudge.

 

6. Try a new type of exercise

Taking time through the week to move your body is so important for mental health, as well as keeping fit and healthy physically.  But, again, this is an area where it’s so easy to get stuck in a rut during lockdown when it feels like your options are really limited.

When you start looking though, there are so many different types of exercise you can try in the comfort of your own home.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • try HIIT workout videos on YouTube.
  • download the C25K (couch to 5k) app and give running a try.
  • follow some yoga sessions on YouTube.  Yoga with Adriene is really popular at the moment, and she has workouts for whatever mood you’re in.
  • get dancing – either stick your favourite music on and make up your own moves, or follow a tutorial online.

 

7. Give a new genre a go

Whether you relax by reading a book or watching TV you probably have a genre that you normally go for, so try picking out something new to change things up a bit.

If you normally watch horror shows then give a light-hearted comedy a try, and if you would automatically pick out a reality tv show, then try a real-life documentary instead.  The same goes for books, if you tend to read the classics then give a new voice a go.

If you’re not sure where to start with finding some new and different then ask your friends and family to recommend something that they think you wouldn’t normally pick out.

 

You don’t have to do all of these things, but just trying to do one or two things differently each week can really make a difference to that feeling that every day is the same during lockdown.

Do you have any other ideas for things to try to break up the monotony?  Please do leave me a comment and inspire me!

 

This post is shared with a moment with Franca and KCACOLS.

What equipment do you need to do yoga_

What equipment do you need for yoga?

Taking up a new sport or activity can be expensive, and sometimes this can be enough for an impulse to get healthy or fit to be pruned before it can take root. But there are also many activities that allow for minimal expense and little to no preparation so that those anxious to begin their new regimen can get started straight away.

Yoga is one of these – you can spend a fortune kitting yourself out with the latest mod cons or you can start right now. Or as soon as you have changed into comfortable clothes!

Let us take a look at the absolute basics needed for yoga.

 

Comfy clothes

Depending on what you go to work in, most people will need to change for their yoga class. You should wear comfortable, loose but not baggy clothing in which you can bend, stretch and contort your body.

Anything too tightly fitted might rip, so leggings or yoga pants and a T-shirt or work-out top are probably going to suit most people the best. Anything revealing should maybe be avoided to prevent unwanted wardrobe malfunctions and embarrassment on both your part and those who get to see a little more of you than they had planned to!

 

Mat matters

Despite being second on this list, a good quality yoga mat is probably the most important item in your yoga equipment. This is because yoga involves a fair amount of getting down on the ground, either on your knees or lying fully prone, and if this causes discomfort you are unlikely to enjoy your workout or get the most out of it.

Choose a mat that suits your needs – you can get thicker, denser, and longer mats for bigger bodies to workout in comfort – and give it a quick wipe down after each use to keep it in good condition for longer.

 

Cushions and blocks

Once you move into the more strenuous poses and stretches, you might find your workout is enhanced by having blocks and cushions that can help you hold poses while you work on your flexibility and strength.

Sometimes a folded towel or blanket will do just as well, but having professional quality non-slip blocks to lean on, and firm, shaped cushions to lift the weight can really improve your yoga experience.

 

Resistance bands

Resistance bands are used in a number of sports and exercise activities, as well as yoga, but they can be invaluable for the latter. Just as blocks can give you a couple of inches wiggle-room in the harder stretches, so too can using a resistance band help you to achieve positions that your body is not quite prepared for.

For example, bending forward to hold your foot means that you must be very flexible in the back, hips and legs, as it works the whole ham-string and the full length of your back.

Holding onto a resistance band slipped around the foot gives you the same stretching benefit without demanding that you actually have that level of fitness and flexibility – and it helps you to become more flexible so you can ultimately achieve these positions without extra help!

 

If you have all of these items, you have a comprehensive range of yoga equipment that will help you get started and maintain your journey to good health, better flexibility and a superbly strong core!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

7 easy ways to make a difference

7 little ways to make a difference

When the whole world seems uncertain and out of control, it can feel like nothing we do will make any difference.

It can feel like our tiny actions won’t make any kind of impact on the world.

But really, the opposite is true.

Our little acts of kindness, no matter how small, will put that bit of good into the world which will spread from person to person.

So if you want to do a little something to make a difference to those around you, here are 7 ideas you might like to try.

 

1. Smile at people you meet

Whenever you’re out at the shops, on the school run, or walking in the park, make a point of smiling at everyone you pass.

It’s such a little thing but it can have a huge impact on someone else’s day.

You might be the only person they see that day, and your friendly smile can give a moment of connection that can make a big difference to how they feel.

 

2. Believe in people

If someone in your life tells you they’re trying something new, let them know that you believe in them and support them any way you can.

It might be that they’re learning a new language or a new skill.  They might be starting a new fitness plan or trying to eat a healthier diet.  It could be that they want to change careers or start their own business.

Whatever it is, get behind them.

Give them a boost when things get hard.  Offer to workout with them.  Send them recipes for healthy, delicious meals you find online.  Look out for job opportunities in the field they want to go into.  Talk up their new business to everyone you know and share their posts on social media for them.

 

3. Give out genuine compliments

Any time you think something nice about someone, make an effort to actually say it to them instead of keeping it to yourself.

Tell them their hair looks amazing and that their new coat looks great on them.

Let them know you really enjoyed something they recommended to you.

If you see their child do something kind or thoughtful, tell them what you saw.

It takes so little to say something nice, but it makes everyone involved feel happier.

 

4. Support a small, local business

Next time you need to buy something, see if you can get it from a small, local business instead of a big chain.

Businesses all over the country are really struggling at the moment, and small businesses especially are fighting to stay afloat.

So wherever you can, try and buy from these places.

If money is tight you can still support small businesses by telling your friends and families about them, liking and commenting on their social media posts, and sharing their content on your own social media pages.

 

5. Carry out a random act of kindness

Each week try and do a random act of kindness, either by yourself or with your children.

These acts of kindness can be as small as letting someone go in front of you in the queue at the supermarket, but they put so much good out into the world.

If you don’t know where to start then pop over to my post 31 ideas for random acts of kindness which should give you some inspiration.

 

6. Top up your shop

If you can afford it then pop an extra item or two in your trolley each time you do a food shop, then donate these items to your local food bank.

Some supermarkets have donation stations near the exit so you can pop things straight in as you leave.  Or you can keep a box at home where you put a few bits in each week then take it to the food bank yourself when it’s full.

It’s worth asking the food bank what items they especially need before you go shopping, because sometimes there are specific things that are needed that you might not think of like sanitary products.

 

7. Offer help to your neighbours

If you have neighbours who you think might be struggling at the moment, then see what you can do to help them.

They might have been shielding a few months ago and still feel nervous about going to the shops.  So when you head out to the supermarket or to town, ask them if they need you to pick anything up for them.

Or it might be that they live alone and don’t see many people, so might really appreciate you taking the time to have a chat a few times a week.

Being a good neighbour and offering support and help when you think it might be needed doesn’t take much, but can make such a big difference.

 

None of the things on this list take much time, money, or effort to do, but they’ll all make such a difference to other people’s lives.

There’s a quote that I really love that says,

“No act of kindness is too small. The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.”

I love this idea that even the smallest act of kindness can have a huge impact on the world.

How many of these things do you do already?

Are there any other little things you do that make a big difference to the people around you?

Look after your mental health this winter

5 ways to look after your mental health this winter

Winter can be a really tough time of year for a lot of people.

The darker, colder days can make it so much harder to manage mental health issues, and even bring on more issues like seasonal affective disorder.  And that’s in a normal, good year.

This year with the pandemic, the constant threat of lockdowns, and not being able to do so many of the things that would normally help get us through the long winter months things will be even harder than normal.

One positive to come out of this year though is that people are starting to be much more open about their mental health issues.  There’s a lot more awareness of the issues people face, and more conversations are being started that let others know they’re not alone.

And with this understanding there’s also more and more research being done into the things we can do to help take care of ourselves and our mental health.

If you’re worried about your wellbeing as the days start to get shorter, then here are 5 things that you can try to help look after your mental health this winter.

 

Spend time outside

When the seasons change and it starts to get colder and darker outside, it can be so tempting to hide away indoors in the warm.

It’s so important though to make an effort to get outside as much as possible.  Spending time outdoors in the fresh air and natural light has so many benefits for our mental health, as well as our physical health and general sense of wellbeing.

Studies have found that spending time outside can help improve our moods, reduce feelings of stress and help us feel more relaxed.  It’s also been found to help with anxiety, depression and seasonal affective disorder.

If you can’t go out for long walks then try wrapping up warm and taking your afternoon coffee out to the garden to get some outside time that way.  And if actually going outside is too hard, then try spending time by an open window where you can see the sky or some greenery in your garden.  You can also get a lot of benefits by bringing the outdoors in, by buying houseplants, or growing herbs and flowers on a windowsill.

 

Take care of your physical health

Our mental health and physical health are so closely linked, it’s important to take care of both to feel well, in every sense of the word, over the winter.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can not only keep our bodies healthy, it can also help improve our moods, help up think more clearly, and give us more energy.

It’s not all about fruit and veg though.

Making sure you stay hydrated is also really important for helping us feel alert and clear-headed.  Water is the best option when it comes to drinks, but fruit juices, milk and squash are also great if you want something a bit more interesting.

You can also help boost your mood by making sure you get enough protein each day.  Protein, found in foods like lean meat, eggs, and beans, contains amino acids that help our brains regulate our thoughts and feelings.

Exercise is also a great way to boost your mood and improve your general wellbeing, thanks to the hormones that our bodies produce when we move our bodies more.

 

Get a diary

Spending a bit of time each day writing in a diary can make a big difference to your mental health.

Studies have shown that journaling can boost our mood and our sense of wellbeing, as well as help with feelings of stress and improving our working memory.

Writing down how we’re feeling can help get it all out of our heads, and gives us a bit of distance from the emotions.  It helps us work through and process everything, which in turn helps us start to let go of those feelings and feel calmer.

If you’re not up to writing about your thoughts and emotions in this way, then you could try a daily gratitude diary instead.

Each day write down three things you’re grateful for.  They can be really small things, like having 5 minutes peace to enjoy a hot drink, the fact that your new fabric conditioner made your clothes smell nice, spotting a perfectly shaped leaf on your walk.  Anything.

The simple act of focusing on all the good things in life that we have to be thankful for is so powerful in boosting our mental health.

 

Stay connected with friends and family

One of the things that has the potential to really have a negative impact on our mental health this winter is not being able to see and/or have physical contact with our loved ones.

When we can’t visit people in person it’s even more important to find other ways to stay connected with them.

Make time each week to have a video chat with a friend, call your parents as often as you can, send text messages and comment on photos and posts that your friends put on social media.

As well as keeping in touch with friends and family, make a point of connecting with people you do get to see in the real world.

It doesn’t have to be much, just a smile and a hello as you pass someone when you’re out for a walk.  These little interactions can mean so much, both to you and the other person.

 

Be conscious of what you consume

Not in terms of food, but in terms of everything you take in from the news and from social media.

There is so much being shared online about the pandemic that can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, angry, confused and a whole host of other emotions.  If you do find yourself starting to feel any of these things when you read the news, then try making a conscious effort to limit how much time you spend scrolling news sites and consider muting certain words on social media so you don’t see those topics in your feeds.

Social media in particular can be harmful to our sense of wellbeing.

It could be that seeing other people not following current guidelines leaves you feeling angry or upset, when you’re being so careful to limit where you go, what you do, and who you spend time with.

Or it might be that it seems like other people are coping so much better, based on the things they share on social media.  I know that I can so easily fall into the trap of comparing my life to the seemingly perfect ones I see other people sharing on Instagram, even though I know it’s all staged.

If you’re finding it hard to handle seeing everyone’s highlight reels, then it might be worth deleting the apps from your phone for a bit, or at the very least limiting yourself to just one scroll through them each day.  And if you need to, go through all the people you follow and either unfollow or mute the accounts that make you feel anything other than happy.  You don’t owe anyone a follow, and you’ll feel much better when your feed is full of things that bring you joy.

 

I know that there’s no quick fix for mental health issues. 

If you really find yourself suffering at any point, then please do reach out to someone.  Speak to your doctor about all your options, and be open to trying different things to see what works for you.  Some people find that talking therapies make a big difference, while medication works best for others.

Hopefully though the tips in this post will really help with supporting your general wellbeing and mental health over the next few months of autumn and winter.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Importance of Vitamin D for keeping the whole family healthy

The importance of Vitamin D for keeping the whole family healthy

We all know we need to eat a balanced diet and get a variety of vitamins and nutrients to keep our bodies healthy.

But how much do you actually know about the benefits we get from each different vitamin?

There are quite a few vitamins and nutrients that I know are good for me, but I don’t know what specific effect they have on my body.

One vitamin that we’ve been hearing a lot about in the news recently is Vitamin D.

It’s an essential vitamin that has so many benefits for the whole family, and one that we all need to be making sure we get enough of over the winter months.

 

Vitamin D is quite often referred to as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies produce it when our skin is exposed to sunlight.

From the end of March until the end of September most of us are out in the sunshine enough that we can get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight.  During the rest of the year though it gets much harder.  Our skin isn’t exposed to natural sunlight in the same way and so it’s much harder for our bodies to produce this important vitamin.

We can get some vitamin D from a small number of foods including:

  • red meat
  • egg yolks
  • oily fish such as salmon and sardines
  • fortified foods such as breakfast cereals

These foods don’t give us all the vitamin D we need though, so the Department of Health and Social Care recommends that we should all consider taking a vitamin D supplement in the autumn and winter months.

There are specific supplements for babies, children and adults that ensure that everyone gets the correct dosage, although formula-fed babies shouldn’t be given supplements because formula is fortified with vitamin D.

You can easily buy vitamins online and have them delivered to your home, or you can pick some up on the high street or at the supermarket when you do your food shop.

 

The reason it’s recommended that we take supplements to make sure we get enough vitamin D in the autumn and winter months is because it plays such an important role in keeping us healthy.

Vitamin D helps us maintain good bone, teeth and muscle health.

It works alongside calcium, promoting its absorption in the gut.  This is turn allows for normal mineralisation of the bones.  In other words, we need vitamin D alongside calcium, for calcium to be able to properly do its thing.

This is why it’s so important to make sure our children get enough vitamin D, as their bones and teeth are still developing.  And it’s just as important for us as we get older to help prevent issues with weak bones and muscles.

 

Vitamin D also protects our immune systems so we can fight off infections, colds and flu viruses, which is especially important at the moment with the coronavirus spreading along with the standard seasonal viruses.

A study carried out in Denmark led researchers to believe that vitamin D is an important part of a complex process in which T cells become ready to help fight infection.  The findings from the study suggest that taking vitamin D supplements can boost immunity, and that people who have a vitamin D deficiency are more susceptible to infection.

 

Making sure the whole family gets enough vitamin D can also help everyone avoid health issues such as feeling run down and tired, depression, hair loss and slow-healing wounds.

So in the coming months when we’re all staying inside more and not getting the exposure to sunlight we need to produce vitamin D, it really is worth looking at taking a supplement and getting more vitamin D rich foods into the family’s diet.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post