By Matt Evans
Lockdown can be incredibly difficult for our mental health. Being in an enclosed space during the winter, getting little sunlight and seeing the same location day after day is not conducive for good mental health. But we can develop ways to work through and weather issues such as anxiety and depression, with a concept called "resilience".
The UK mental health charity Mind writes that resilience "is not just your ability to bounce back, but also your capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing." It's a broad definition for habits that can keep your chin up during troubled times.
Mind suggests several ways of developing fortitude include indulging in hobbies, looking after your physical health, giving yourself a break and building a support network.
Your physical health is closely related to your mental health in lots of ways. For one, vigorous exercise of any kind releases serotonin and dopamine, your brain's reward chemicals or "happy hormones". Exercising outdoors has additional benefits, from exposing you to the sun to running in nature. If you've not run before, now is the perfect time to check out our Couch to 5K Plan.
Staying in nature for as little as 10 minutes has the capacity to improve your mood, according to Cornell University. Making a regular walk or run near a local green space a daily habit can provide an anchor for the rest of your day. It can also provide you with a change of scenery – if you're working at home during a pandemic, this is key to staving off the lockdown blues.
One of the easiest ways to create and nurture a support network of friends and family is through online group chats. Whether it's a bunch of schoolfriends or your close family, studies found an active group chat can foster feelings of companionship and solidarity in much the same way as a traditional support group can.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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