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Punam Krishan's wellbeing Q&A

NHS Doctor, columnist, author, TV GP and mum, Punam Krishan is our wellbeing ambassador for 2024. She'll be providing top tips for wellness and how to make the most of the spaces we live and work in, along with how to introduce stress-free, calming elements to our lives and homes

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What is your favourite thing about spring and summer time?

The lighter, brighter and longer days. Which means more vitamin D, greater release of those feel good hormones triggered by the sunnier, warmer weather and how our behaviours evolve over this season. We connect more. We are more motivated to be physically active outdoors. We spend more time in green spaces and connecting with loved ones. BBQs! There’s an endless list of why it’s the best time of year for our general physical and mental wellbeing

What small changes can you make in your home to help embrace the new brighter and warmer weather as we move into spring/summer?

There is strong evidence of how plants, flowers and water features can be calming. And these can be brought indoors too. These don’t have to be real plants, as we know that even having artificial ones can spark a sense of calm and serenity. Alongside accessories like candles and diffusers with uplifting scents, all which help to relieve daily worries and anxieties.

How can these changes help boost your mood and wellbeing?

Evidence tells us that the environment or a space you spend a lot of time in, whether that’s an office or your home, is intrinsically connected to your mental health and general wellbeing. A calming space can help to reduce stress hormones, which in turn helps reduce heart rate, stabilise blood pressure and even helps you sleep better.

'Messy bed, messy head'

Many will have heard the term “messy bed, messy head” where the more cluttered your space is, the more cluttered the mind can feel. Creating feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. Tidying your home is a form of mindfulness and can also give a sense of achievement.

Having colours that spark joy or evoke a sense of calm can help boost mood. And lighting plays a big role too - from sad lamps to ease you into your morning to atmospheric lighting in the evenings. Creating a cosy space to retreat too can be healing and restorative.

Scottish sunshine!

Making the most of the Scottish sunshine when it makes an appearance is an absolute must, but why is spending time outdoors so important for our mental health?

We are inherently connected to our natural world. And spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce our stress levels by reducing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. It also triggers the release of feel good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Which are beneficial for your cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure and heart rate and therefore lowering long term risk of heart disease. Reducing stress levels also helps support our immune health. And the added benefits of vitamin D from being outdoors can also help here.

Enjoy the outdoors

For those of us who are lucky enough to have a garden or outside space, how can we make the most of it to boost our mood in the warmer weather?

Creating sanctuaries for ourselves in our outdoors spaces can have an extremely positive impact on our wellbeing. And you don’t need a huge garden or outdoor space to do this. You can make even the tiniest of balconies a cosy and relaxing retreat. A peaceful place where you can enjoy a mindful cup of coffee in the morning before work or do some breathing exercises and journaling if you ever feel stressed or overwhelmed. Or simply relax with a good book in the sun. And of course always take care of your skin with a good SPF sunscreen!

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