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It is more important to get outside than ever before

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Golden Acre Park Path

At the beginning of the year, as Christmas is a misty memory, many people find themselves feeling anxious. This is certainly the case for those who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder or ‘January Blues’. Not only that, but an increase in working from home due to Covid has meant many are feeling the effects of Cabin Fever.

Getting outside during this time may be the answer!

What are the January Blues?

Although “January Blues” is a fairly click bait term, Seasonal Anxiety is not a new thing. Many people who do not suffer from anxiety disorders or SAD find themselves feeling nervous and anxious in the first month of the new year. This can be due to any number of reasons, firstly the holidays are over and it is a while until the next event. This year we have had a Christmas lockdown, which means stresses will be even higher than usual. As well as this the darker nights mean less social interaction and less sunlight as people withdraw inside.

More common symptoms of January Blues are:

  • lethargy, sleepiness, and fatigue
  • low mood and depression
  • irritability
  • lack of concentrate
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • uncontrollable worry

What is Cabin Fever?

The phrase ‘Cabin Fever’ is used to explain a number of symptoms linked to isolation. Due to Covid, Cabin Fever has become more of an issue than before. The emotional and behavioural effects are real and can massively affect quality of life. The effects include:

  • difficulty with sleeping
  • sleeping too much
  • lack of concentration
  • eating too much
  • drinking too much

Hasn’t this always been an issue at this time of year though?

Yes, is the short answer. We have always been more likely to stay inside during the colder days. 

However before Covid and the ongoing Leeds lockdowns, there were social events like Leeds Light Night, any number of halloween festivities, as well as the Christmas Market. These events were a way of getting out, seeing friends, and shaking off the cobwebs.

Now that these have been put on hold, we have less opportunity to get out of the house and fight off those seasonal blues.

On top of this, a large majority of people worked away from home. This would mean getting up earlier (we know we have been having a lay in), and some level of commute. A bit of sunshine and looking at the world before starting work. With the rise of working from home, this has been quite significantly reduced.

Why would getting outside help?

A study carried out by Nature found that spending at least 120 a minutes in nature is linked with good health and wellbeing.

They found that participants’ happiness peaked when they spent between 3-5 hours a week outside. If you are someone who works a 9-5 day, this would mean that lunchtime is the perfect opportunity to get outside and eat your lunch in a park. However, sometimes it can be a bit too rainy or cold – so a walk around the block could be just as beneficial!

Get that good sunshine and exercise

Even though the days are getting shorter, there is still light during the day! Daylight can help regulate the body’s natural cycles, and exercise releases endorphins. These endorphins are essentially natures high. They make you feel better. Not into running? No stress, a quick stroll and get you feeling better quickly. 

Physical and mental health are linked. If you set a routine of a daily walk, or go for a run several times a week you could get your allotted amount of nature, sunlight and exercise all in one!

So I know what to do? Now where do I go?

Luckily Leeds is full of incredible places to explore and get that fix of nature. You will probably have a small park nearby!

If you are at a loss for where to go, or want to discover somewhere new we would suggest you take a look at Discover Leeds Outdoors section. They are continually adding new places, and show where to park and nearby places to get food. Perfect for that lunchtime break!

There are several places that deserve a mention if you are looking for pointers!

Golden Acre Park

At the beginning (or end) of the Meanwood Valley Trail, Golden Acre Park is a solid choice of somewhere to go to get outside. The paths weave between trees, and with 179 acres of space to explore, it gives you the perfect opportunity to step away from work. Get that breath of fresh air that you need!

Find out more about Golden Acre Park here

Woodhouse Moor/Hyde Park

Centred between Woodhouse, Hyde Park, Headingley and Burley – Woodhouse Moor is a great place to escape the humdrum of urban living. Interestingly it was the city’s first ever urban park! We would also recommend having a wander of the area and maybe popping by LS6 cafe for a bite to eat.

Find out more about Woodhouse Moor here

Meanwood Park

Located 4 miles north of Leeds city centre, in the middle of Meanwood sits Meanwood Park. Meanwood Beck runs through the middle of it, and down into Meanwood Valley. If you have time to spare we would recommend exploring the Meanwood Valley Trail – 29 hectares of woodland, meadows and streams. The park itself is a great place to sit, explore, and walk the dog!

Find out more about Meanwood Park

 

Winter is a beautiful season, but can be a tricky time of year. Especially with Covid. Hopefully these tips can help you make the most of the situation!

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