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Autumnal wellbeing

Have you heard of 1% improvement every day? Also known as marginal gains, this is about making very small changes that over time add up to a big change. This is how the GB cycling team went from being a team where some sponsors refused to have them wear their merchandise to winning 60% of the gold medals at the 2008 Olympics. (You can read more about that in this blog.)

I was reminded of this recently when a client mentioned it and again in our Life on Track Group session where I was encouraging clients to write down their first step towards a goal. One client reflected that just writing one step was really powerful - doing one thing isn't overwhelming.

1% gains works in a similar way. It's looking at improving something just a very, very small amount. But to do that consistently.

I was reminded of it AGAIN when I recently read that we spend 90% of our time indoors. The post then went on to talk about improving our indoor surroundings but all I could think was well let’s spend more time outside! ESPECIALLY if you are in lockdown, facing Autumn/Winter.

I don’t know how accurate that figure is - and let’s face it, it’s going to vary hugely on an individual level - but 10% outside seems low to me.

Those in the northern hemisphere heading into winter may feel like you want to spend more time inside but we know there are huge wellbeing benefits to time outside so here are a few things that might help you spend a few more minutes a day in the fresh air. Perhaps these can help you to increase your outside time by 1% every few days!

* Ignore the weather and walk anyway. We entered lockdown and homeschooling during our autumn and we had more rain in the first month than I had seen in Australia at that point. But I walked everyday. The same way we would if we had to walk to school. I also added in solo walks most days as a way of creating some quiet in my mind. I got rained on a lot!

* Invest in good wet/cold weather clothes and footwear. Good does not need to equal expensive, but protection from the worst of the elements will help you get out there.

* If you have an outdoor space like a garden or balcony, how can you maximise its use? With warm blankets, lanterns, fire pits (ideally not patio heaters for environmental reasons), solar powered fairy lights, etc. Wrapping up for morning coffee outside may seem like a bit of a pain, but when you get out there you are likely to enjoy it.

* Treat being outside as a good preventive measure against physical and mental ill health. It would be really easy in lockdown, when the weather is bad, to stay inside most days. This is likely to exacerbate ill health.

* Get your camera out & use it when you’re out for a daily walk. Document the changing season in your neighbourhood. Doing so changes the way you look at your surroundings. You pay more attention, you look at big and small things. It helps cement your sense of place & reaffirm some perspective.

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