GUEST COLUMNIST: Caroline Mackie of DCC, on how to boost our mental well-being

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The New Year can feel a bit flat after all the excitement of Christmas with cold, dark days that seem to go on forever.

It’s easy to want to stay indoors, curl up on the sofa and neglect our bodies and minds. But now is the time to take action.

As well as looking after physical health with healthy eating and exercise, it’s important to look after your mental health and wellbeing too as it affects the way you act, feel and deal with life’s ups and downs.

If you’re feeling stressed, worried or anxious then why not try one of the five ways to wellbeing – they’re tried and tested ways to help improve physical and mental wellbeing.

The five ways are: connect, be active, give, take notice and keep learning and they offer simple, easy ways to get back on track.

Connecting with other people can have a knock-on effect to our own happiness. Try small steps such as asking how someone’s weekend was and really taking the time to listen or spend lunchtime with a work colleague or friend.

Physical activity makes us feel good, even a little extra a day can make a difference. Simple things include taking the stairs not the lift, going for a walk at lunch or getting off the bus one stop early. It’s not necessarily about signing up to a gym or setting unrealistic goals.

Being kind and giving to others can boost our own wellbeing too. A smile could be all that it takes.

Alternatively why not drop in on an elderly neighbour or look for volunteering opportunities.

Taking notice is about being aware of the world around you and living in the moment. Have a break from your ordinary routine – try eating lunch somewhere different, have a spring clean or just take time to observe what’s going on around you.

Finally keep on learning. Getting new skills is not just about gaining qualifications and passing exams. Why not learn something new just for fun? Try cooking a new recipe or try out a new hobby.

Bright Side is a series of free adult education courses in Derbyshire designed to help people who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

Find out more on 01629 536569 or email brightside@derbyshire.gov.