Ideas to get you through the Winter Months
Although the hours of daylight increase daily. (According to Google “this gain will be minuscule at first, just a matter of seconds a day. But will steadily grow until daily daylight expands by three daily minutes per day in March. The exact amount of brightness-gain depends on your location.”)
However, mornings can feel grey and dismal, the days could be cold with wind and rain which add to the gloominess and at times it could be treacherous if it’s been freezing or snowing during the night. Therefore, it is important that we take up indoor activities which lighten our mood and help us to be mindful and focused.
Here are 5 ideas for you
My husband loves jigsaw puzzles. He increases the challenge by only looking at the picture once and then putting it away and not referring to it again as he completes the puzzle. Of course, this is not a pre-requisite and there are lots of choices of puzzles with varying numbers of pieces and complexity.
The important thing is that completing jigsaw puzzles increases the brain production of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that boosts mood and optimism. Every time you successfully put a piece into the jigsaw, you are encouraged by the sense of achievement to continue.
Doing jigsaws involves concentration, helps reduce stress and is said to be very good for the brain as we age. My husband certainly becomes engrossed in the process, being in the moment and not thinking about other worries and stresses.
Tending to plants
If you are missing gardening as I am, there is an indoor solution tending to house plants. The benefits of nature have been shown to be positive even by looking at or tending to indoor plants. There are also a number of gardening tasks to undertake with indoor plants including watering or spraying and dead-heading leaves or flowers. (It is, of course, important to check the label on how to care for your indoor garden).
As well as improving the quality of air in the home, plants are a source of pleasure and can help to reduce stress and anxiety. There are plenty to choose from.
- Poinsettia – It is such a lovely happy plant in the winter months. This year I was so pleased to find one with pink leaves.
- Hyacinths – I’ve grown mine from bulbs. I’m watching them carefully but they are available to buy and have an absolutely beautiful scent. Available in a range of colours.
- Aeonium – or Tree Houseleek. These need to be in a bright spot indoors and don’t take a lot of watering as their leaves hold the water but they are an interesting shape. As the common name suggests the plant has a trunk, which can bend, if not careful, with the weight of the thick green leaves, some having a reddish tint. They do need periodic dead leaves removing.
- Bonsai – if you fancy something which needs a bit more care, why not try a Bonsai, though they can be quite expensive. The tree will come with care instructions.
- Orchid – also requires some attention and care. A beautiful exotic plant which reaches up with delicate colourful flowers, often with tendrils of the root showing above plant pots to add to its intrigue.
- Amaryllis – This bulb is easy to care for and has a big exuberant bloom to cheer up your winter months.
You can view an earlier blog post for the benefits of reading literature but there is nothing more comforting than curling up with a good book and a mug of tea. You may even decide to try a different genre this year, for example, Who-dunnits, Sci-fi or adult fantasy fiction.
I’ve included card games on the list, which may remind you of playing games as a child. I certainly learnt to play card games from my Nan and have very fond memories of this. Playing such games can keep your mind active, reduce stress and help improve memory. I know there are games such a Solitaire but generally card games are social activities which can be a lot of fun.
It is well documented that puzzles are mindful activities which have many health benefits including relieving stress and boosting mood as well as keeping our minds active. There are a range of activities to choose from whether you like words, numbers or logic games. Magazines and newspapers often include a puzzle or crossword or you can buy books full of puzzles. For those who like to use their phone or tablet there are lots of Apps to choose from. I have a Sudoku App on my phone with a choice of levels of puzzles.
It is important that we undertake indoor activities which are beneficial to our mental health through the winter months. I also look forward to some bright, crisp mornings where we can also step outside and enjoy the outdoors as we wait for the changing seasons and new life in Spring.