Research shows that as the clocks go back in October, beginning a long winter of dark afternoons, our happiness levels drop due to the reduction in sunlight.
According to Mind, our habitual patterns of sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity rely on natural light cycles, so when light cycles change, so do we.
Many of us feel less inclined to exercise, socialise or get out of bed in general during the winter months, and this can have a drastic impact on our mental wellbeing.
‘Ecotherapy’, otherwise known as being outside, increases our exposure to sunlight and therefore can have a positive impact on our moods. Some research shows that physical exercise can be as equally effective as anti-depressants in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
Mind’s ‘ecotherapy’ campaign is being supported by the Holly Willoughby of the vegetable patch, Gardener’s World’s Rachel de Thame.
Rachel has said: “At this time of year it is vital that we all take advantage of the therapeutic effects of the great outdoors and look after our own mental wellbeing. As winter approaches, I will definitely be out rain or shine and hope you too will give it a go.”
Exercise has many benefits, from releasing feel-good hormones, to increasing energy levels, to improving physical fitness- thus probably improving self-confidence.
Mind has organised group activities known as Ecominds projects, where people can meet up and get involved in the great outdoors. The schemes are funded by £7.5 million worth of Big Lottery money, and provides 130 outdoor exercise projects across England. The projects are designed to improve the confidence and self esteem of those suffering from mental health problems, and involve activities like walking, farming and gardening.
If you would like to read and comment on the full article, or find out more about Mind’s campaign, please visit the Mind website.