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Fun ways to beat the winter blues

4 February 2016
Fun ways to beat the winter blues
Every year, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem. That makes it just as important to give yourself some mental RnR as it is to step away from the chocolate bar. If you’ve not already heard of mindfulness, it’s the habit of becoming more aware of what’s happening in your life, whether that’s eating a snack or walking to the shops.

Practice a mindful activity

Being more present in your day-to-day, and making conscious decisions rather than switching on autopilot, can have a positive impact on your overall happiness and wellbeing. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, one of these mindful activities could be just what you’re looking for.

Stitch-Up

Mindfulness - Beating the winter blues - Article 1Photography provided by Stitch-Up

Stitch-Up is dedicated to teaching the basics of knitting and yarn crafts in the 21st century. Through projects, workshops and installations, the Stitch-Up team aims to make yarn crafts engaging and accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability.

In a digital age when we absently-mindedly consume reams of information on different devices, focusing on one activity can calm our thoughts. Knitting and crochet both require concentration so can help to quieten all the noise and give your mind some much-needed peace and quiet.

Stitch-Up’s Jen explains:

“When you’re getting on with your knitting and crochet you’re generally only thinking about that. It can take you away from life stresses and be very calming. People who come to our workshops, even the school children, say that when they are knitting and making pom poms that they feel more relaxed”

Fancy trying your hand at knitting? For details on how to join a Stitch-Up session visit their Facebook page.

Yoga Kula

Yoga Kula in Chapel Allerton offers a range of yoga and meditation classes and workshops in an open and relaxing environment. Quietly enjoying the sensations of our bodies, and learning how to become more aware of our thoughts, can positively affect the way we view ourselves and our lives.

Julia at Yoga Kula talked us through just some of the benefits of meditation:

“It can really help you to feel centred and calm. It can help you relate to people easier because of that calmness, and it can help you relax and sleep better. It also just helps you to feel more at ease in the world.”

If you’d like to learn more about meditation and mindfulness, book into one of Yoga Kula's workshops through their website.

The Bowery

Mindfulness - Beating the winter blues - Article 2Photography provided by The Bowery

The Bowery in Headingley showcases work by designers and artists, as well as running regular creative workshops and short courses. Try your hand at print making, creative writing or upholstering among other creative skills. Artistic expression can help relieve stress, depression and anxiety, using creativity as an outlet for thoughts and feelings.

Becoming more aware of your thoughts and how to express them is a key element of mindfulness. Practising mindful meditation can help to increase creativity as our minds are more balanced and free to focus fully on the task at hand.

Indulge your creative streak at an upcoming workshop, or sign up to a short course. For more information about what’s on at The Bowery visit their website.

Five quick tips for mindful living:

1 Enjoy your food! Instead of grabbing a few things on a fly-by trip to the supermarket, wander around Kirkgate Market and thoughtfully pick fresh ingredients for the week before preparing and savouring freshly made meals.

2 Spend five minutes a day doing absolutely nothing: just become aware of how your body feels and what’s going on in the environment around you. The Headspace app offers guided meditation for novices.

3 Focus on the present: it can be all too easy to get wrapped up in what happened yesterday and worried about tomorrow, rather than appreciating everything that’s happening now.

4 Try slowing down an everyday activity and paying attention to the small details that make it up. Taking pleasure in the little things can help to reduce stress and increase overall happiness.

5 You can even practise mindfulness in the office. Try taking a purposeful pause at a few intervals throughout the day. Instead of checking your phone in between meetings, try to just take a few minutes for yourself. Feel the air around you, focus on your breathing and just enjoy the sensations in your body.

By
Sophie’s a jack of all writing trades. A freelance journalist and copywriter, writing culture features and opinion pieces makes her world go round.
Cover photograph provided by Mark Wheelwright