Wellbeing blog: light, acts of kindness & plants
Green shooting leaves with the sun shining on them
The Wellbeing team are this week looking at how light affects our mood, at how random acts of kindness are good for us and are encouraging us to try out looking after a plant through the pet plant scheme: visit their roadshow on Wednesday.
Many of us are affected by the changing seasons. The colder weather and darker evenings can affect our mood, energy levels, sleeping patterns, and appetites
Light, especially natural light, can greatly affect your overall mood. Natural light is vital to our physical and mental health. Exposure to sunlight can improve motivation and learning and increase cognitive performance and reaction times. A study carried out in 2017 found that students who get more sunlight performed better in assessments.
The good news is that a little sunlight goes a long way: often 20-30 minutes is sufficient. Small increases in your exposure can improve your sleep as well as your mental and physical health (see our tips on how to get more sunlight below).
Thinking differently about winter may also help. Research shows that reframing how we think about stressful events can help us deal much better with them. Think about the things you enjoy about winter: making comfort food, curling up under a blanket, walking through crunchy leaves or visiting Christmas markets, for example.
Another way to bring metaphorical light into our lives is to make space for Acts of Kindness. Research shows that carrying out random acts of kindness in not only beneficial to others, but it is also beneficial to our own wellbeing.
The Mental Health Foundation lists 50 acts of kindness you can do to help yourself and others too. For more ideas, take a look at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation | Kindness Ideas.
Nurturing and caring for plants is also beneficial to mental health and wellbeing as studies show that this can reduce stress levels and boost our mood. Why not pick up a pet plant at our Roadshow on Wednesday this week and exercise those green fingers!
Getting More Sunlight!
Follow these tips to get more sunlight into your routine and regulate your Circadian Rhythm:
- Set a regular waking time and open your curtains or blinds as soon as you get up.
- Aim to exercise outside everyday even if that is just going for a walk.
- Try to get outside as much as possible.
- If possible, sit close to a window. Even small distances from a window can have a dramatic effect on light levels.
- Consider using dimmer lights in the evening if they’re available to you.
- Try to not use any screen-based devices for at least an hour before bedtime. This includes phones, iPads, laptops, PCs, Kindles and TVs. Try to reduce your exposure to these devices during the evening.
- If you can, use blackout blinds or curtains at night.
- Avoid sitting in dark or dimly lit rooms during the day.
- Use lamps & mirrors to brighten up anywhere that is particularly dark. Some people find it helpful to use a lightbox – a special lamp that mimics natural light. Daylight bulbs can also be used which help mimic natural light.
For more information: The role of sunlight in your wellbeing (studentspace.org.uk)
Carol and the Wellbeing Team