The calm before the storm, by which I mean Christmas – there I said it. Hard to believe that 2021 is almost at an end. And again, we are left wondering if next year will be different – better.

Safe to say, none of us could have predicted the last two years, and many of us hoped that 2021 would be better, and in some ways, it has been.

While the pandemic was not what we ordered, there have been some beautiful moments, acts of kindness that will never be forgotten, and communities brought together. Our social media feeds were filled with heart-warming stories and shared images of laughter across fences – a coming together.

But I must stop before this becomes a reflective blog which was not my intention. Although as the evenings draw in, it is the perfect time to reflect, a time to stop, breathe and treasure life.

There is such magic at this time of year

Crisp mornings and a blanket of white, spider webs glistening, and beautiful sunrises. Then there is the noise of winter, with trees rustling as the last of the leaves fall.

Beautiful moments for embracing and finding calm. A time when mindful moments are there for the taking (if you choose) by simply focusing on your breath while you feel the cold on your cheeks.

The perfect time for embracing the world in which we live

I know I’m always telling you to go for a walk, but the beach in winter can be invigorating, and then in Wilshire, we are surrounded by places of natural beauty. My favourite is the Winter Garden at Moffisfont, which is gorgeous at the moment – beautiful and peaceful.

Why not find a tree and hug it? Yes, tree-hugging is good for you, and that is because it increases levels of the hormone oxytocin. The hormone responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. Why not take a drive to Grovely Wood, a truly magical place with a Roman road running right through the middle and lots of trees for hugging.

Go bird spotting, take a flask of hot chocolate, and chase the grandchildren. Wrap up warm, although watch out for holding your shoulders too close to your ears, as this isn’t good for your posture.

Spend time with loved ones and enjoy the outdoors while you can and before it’s too cold and the madness of Christmas begins. And if you still need convincing, here are seven benefits of spending time outside:

  1. Natural environments improve mental health
  2. Help you think more clearly
  3. It will help you sleep
  4. Improve your attention and memory
  5. Boosts your immune system
  6. Improve your eyesight – I know!
  7. You’ll feel happier

Being outdoors doesn’t require you to exercise, BUT walking is exercise, so it’s a win in my book.