Blue Monday? Time to treat yourself with your own outdoor Spa!

Make Blue Monday a new kind of Monday – get walking and boost your mental and physical well-being and health. The world outside your door is an outdoor spa, and membership is free!

It’s here again: Blue Monday!

The start of the third week in January is allegedly the most depressing day of the year. There is no actual scientific evidence to support this, but the evidence is there with the amount of people that give up on goals, resolutions and new year promises on this day. It’s the kind of theory that seems to be true, whether there’s science behind it or not.

It makes sense... at Christmas we overspend and overeat and probably never more so than this year, then in January we overcompensate. We give up every one of our guilty pleasures and to make things even tougher, this year we have COVID-19 and lockdowns to add to the list. You probably set yourself the task to get fitter, lose weight, stop drinking, and by now it all feels too hard - eating celery; joining another zoom is no fun at all and those rock-hard abs still haven’t turned up... even after six whole workouts!

And so, we flop down on the sofa and eat our body weight in biscuits. We tell ourselves we deserve a little pampering and that it will make us feel better...

... the funny thing is it doesn’t, so I think we’ve got this pampering lark the wrong way round!

So… stop now and let me explain...

When I had breast cancer, if I felt a bit down or tired, especially if I was about to have one of my Zoladex injections, it was tempting to curl up and hide in on the settee... but that would just make me focus even more inwardly on the treatment I was dreading, and all that I was facing at that time. Instead, I would go out walking. I would move purposefully, almost marching, creating and repeating short mantras to myself in a rhythm that matched my walking pace... and on the way back I would make a point of stopping at a coffee shop and having something nice. It made the whole experience feel like a treat.

Slowly I came to realise that walking is a treat, and as for walking in the middle of winter – even better! It sounds odd, but this can be the best time of year to get out walking, and especially now, as there are usually less people out an about. No matter what the weather, provided you’ve got the right clothes and you’re not venturing out into a genuine storm, it can be the most empowering experience!

When you get home, your skin’s cold and you smell of fresh air… you make yourself a hot drink and it tastes like the best thing in the world. To spend an hour or so investing in yourself like this is incredibly rewarding in every sense, and even more important now, as so many spend hour after hour on zoom meetings and trying to battle a home work life balance.

Walking regularly is  something that you can build up slowly at your own pace. No matter what your ability, you can challenge yourself to get to the corner shop and back again, then push yourself a bit further the next day. It’s amazing how quickly you start to see results – which is a good thing for those who’ve signed up for one of our Virtual Events. It’s not like committing to online zoom classes when you don’t feel like it, or going to a gym …when we can and crashing about on a treadmill or a cross trainer then giving up because it all feels too difficult.

Best of all, it’s a fantastic way to walk through the January blues!

Recent studies show that if you walk like you’re happy… even if you don’t exactly feel it… (shoulders back, head held high and striding with purpose), your body can actually fool your brain into feeling genuinely cheerful. So when you start out, don’t shuffle along, take confident steps. It helps if you set yourself a challenge. Tell yourself you’re going to go once round the park as fast as possible, or leave just before the shops close so you have to power along to get there, or sign up for a Walk the Walk Monthly Challenge. Giving yourself a goal and some kind of structure is a huge motivator in these challenging times.

“For me, living with cancer, getting out of the house and walking is grounding. It’s an opportunity to look at the bigger picture. I’m in the fifth cycle of my latest round of chemotherapy, but when I am able, just walking the dog, watching the sunrise and seeing the clouds move across the sky is amazing. Yesterday I manage 4,000 steps and I was very happy with that - I feel like I’m winning! Being outside I am just a tiny part in a huge world whilst when I’m indoors I’m a big part of my small world and occasionally that can be overwhelming. I strongly believe that there is always something good in every day, no matter how small it seems. Sometimes it would be easy to get stuck in the gloom and have a pity-party, but I try not to stay there long enough to put the bunting up!” - Lucie

Once you’re moving, I guarantee you’ll have a different perspective on life, and that’s the key to getting in shape mentally and physically and  beating Blue Monday. Find the thing that makes you smile and do it. Last weekend I tried a series of fitness classes – I did an hour of Bollywood dance, which was great fun and then I finally learned to hula hoop, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. Hula hooping is great for your core muscles, but I was too busy giggling to be bothered about that!

So go on, get your trainers on, get out there and pamper yourself this month. The world is one big outdoor spa, and membership is free.

Nina x

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