Winter is a tough season at the best of times, and having to deal with lockdown #3 at the start of the year has left many feeling exhausted and despondent. According to YouGov’s weekly mood tracker, just 32% of Brits currently feel happy1 – 15% less than a month ago. In the same tracker, 30% of people currently describe themselves as sad, 44% frustrated and just 20% feel optimistic.

Clearly, it’s a challenging start to 2021, but there are ways to boost your mood and energy levels to regain a sense of positivity and motivation. Here are some tips:

Eat well to feel good

Although it’s tempting to reach for the chocolate stash when you’re feeling low, your body and brain actually need nutrients that will provide a genuine boost. Foods such as eggs, oily fish, nuts, wholegrains and beans are rich in nutrients and vitamins that can help increase energy production and decrease tiredness.2 Don’t eat too late at night and remember to drink plenty of water to avoid fatigue and help you have a restful sleep.

Keep to a regular sleep pattern

In lockdown, with little of the usual structure to our day, it’s tempting to sleep-in late and fall asleep on the sofa. However, according to experts at Sleepstation, this will actually make you feel more tired as our bodies crave sleep routine and consistency.3 Fix your bedtimes and morning alarm times and don’t sleep in for more than an extra 30-60 minutes at weekends.

Set yourself goals

One challenge of the pandemic is that we don’t have the usual activities or goals to work towards: holidays, festivals and entering sporting events are all on hold. This can make it hard to feel a sense of direction, so it’s important to redefine our goals, give ourselves new things to aim for and create a feeling of progress.

Choose anything that will make you happy – create a Zoom book club with friends to get you reading; sign up to a monthly running mileage goal; give couch to 5k a go; or try a new recipe each week. You might even want to cook for vulnerable neighbours to feel you’re making a positive difference.

Get outside early

With the dark and cold wintry days, it can be tempting to stay inside. However, getting out and about will boost your mood and set a positive tone for your day. Try getting up early a couple of days a week for an early walk as the sun rises, or head out for a jog at lunchtime. Exposure to daylight is critical for Vitamin D intake and energy levels, and will help establish circadian rhythms, regulating sleep and guarding against fatigue.4

Get groomed

While many of us have become glued to our tracksuit bottoms since lockdown #1, it may be time to mix it up and make more of an effort to feel groomed again. Regular showers, shaves, a little makeup and a change of outfit can help to boost mood and create a sense of positivity and pride. Also, making an effort to wear something different at the weekend will create differentiation and help to relieve monotony.

Make the most of what we can do

Even within the strict limits of lockdown #3, there are some social activities that you can enjoy safely to help your mood and relieve feelings of isolation or loneliness. While most of us have Zoom fatigue, it’s important to maintain relationships with friends and seeing their faces may give you more of a boost than you realise. If you can’t face screens, pick up the phone to friends and make the most of your daily exercise to meet one other person for a socially distanced walk. Knowing that you have friends to call on will help in itself, and creating regular social activity will help improve energy levels and motivation.

With the restrictions of the pandemic being with us for some time yet, these tips will hopefully help make lockdown more bearable and create a sense of positivity and progress – vital to our mood and mental health.

1 YouGov
2 HealthLine
3 Sleepstation
4 The National Interest

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