Thursday, 29 March 2018

Getting the most out of every day when we ‘lose’ an hour

We’re all looking forward to spring-like weather – especially after the harsh weather of recent weeks. However one aspect about the onset of spring that we could do without is the clocks going forward. Yes, we love our lighter evenings, but who enjoys having to rise an hour earlier every morning?

The best way to make the daylight savings work for you, is by using it as an opportunity to reboot your morning routine. Starting the day as we mean to go on helps us approach each new day with the vigour and enthusiasm that is needed to really achieve our goals.

We’ve compiled a list of things to help make sure you get out of bed on the right side this spring and carry this new-found zest for life through the summer months too.

Get moving

Kick start your morning with some exercise and see how it positively impacts the rest of your day. Exercising in the morning serves two purposes: it catapults you out of your morning slump – especially prevalent in those first few days after the clocks go forward - and it boosts your metabolism which will leave you feeling positive and productive for the rest of the day. Not only that, by being active earlier we’re actually preparing our body to wind down earlier and that paves the way for a great night’s sleep.

Have a plan

A good morning routine helps to set us up for the day, but really we need to prepare for our constructive morning, the night before. Jot down a plan and a schedule of what you want to achieve the next day. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time available and don’t put off the easy tasks – they’re the things that will keep your motivation levels high throughout the day. This blog post talks about the dangers of procrastination and outlines some top tips for getting things done.

A change is as good as a rest

Mornings are the best time to turn our minds to doing something new. Usually the mornings are when we run on autopilot, but our minds can be more receptive at this time – uncluttered by the thoughts and tasks we pick up throughout the day. To get your brain working as soon as you rise, take time to try something new. It’ll heighten your senses and get your mind working, rather than simply going through the motions. It can be something quite small – change your routine, step out of your usual comfort zone, put a few minutes aside to tackle a new task or skill. Once your brain is switched on, you’ll approach the rest of the day with a more ‘can do’ attitude.

Find time for 'me time'

We might lose an hour when the clocks go forward but that doesn’t mean we should lose those parts of the day that are most beneficial to our physical and mental well-being. Placing value on ‘you time’ benefits not just yourself but those around you too. Make sure you invest a short period of time into your schedule each day to do something you love – it’s time well spent. It’s up to you when you do this, but the morning is ideal as there is less time for you to postpone or find other things to do instead. Just five minutes is all you need to remind yourself that you are important – and be honest, if you don’t value your time, who will?

By trying even a couple of our suggestions we hope that you can embrace the daylight savings for what they are: the onset of spring and the opportunity to get more natural light into each waking day. And if you're looking for more ideas to fill your extra hour of daylight, read this blog post.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Using music to lift your mood

Have you ever noticed how your mood can change depending on what you’re listening to on the radio? The impact that music has on our mental wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated.

Think about it! Soothing music helps us calm down, while upbeat music energises us, helps us to perform, and can distract us from over thinking. Not to mention what music can do for our memory. Hearing a song from way back when can quickly help us recover memories and relive happier times.

When we listen to music we enjoy, feel-good hormones are released into the brain that generate emotions such as happiness, excitement and pure joy. So what exactly does music do to us that’s so beneficial?

Music helps us relax

Soothing and classical music slows our pulse and heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases the levels of stress hormones. That’s why it’s used in doctors’ surgeries or hospital waiting rooms. It’s also a tried and tested way of preparing our bodies for a restful night’s sleep – you can read more about that in one of our previous blog posts.

Music helps us perform

Have you ever wondered why gyms play loud music? It’s to make us work harder! Our body gets in-tune with the rhythm which makes us work harder and for longer. It makes us feel in control and more optimistic about achieving our goals.

Music reduces our perception of pain

There’s a reason why women are offered music while in labour. Music can significantly increase our tolerance to pain and gives us perceived control over it. It also reduces anxiety, which helps people manage their own pain threshold better.

The great news is that is it really easy to incorporate more music into our lives – and to use it to benefit our mental wellness and general outlook. As a starter, we suggest the following simple tips:

  • Download a music or radio app onto your phone or tablet so that you can listen to music at work (if allowed), during your breaks or while commuting, especially if you have a stressful or a particularly busy day ahead.
  • Incorporate music into your daily regime – build up different playlists for the activities you do, such as one for walking, one for cooking, one for tidying. You get the idea! Music is especially good for heightening productivity during those jobs you’d rather not face, such as the ironing.
  • Turn off the TV an hour earlier each evening and listen to some music instead. Not only will it help lift your mood – it’ll leave you more receptive to sleep.

For more tips about how to manage your mental wellbeing, you can read this blog.