If you’re like me, you need the glorious South African sunshine to thrive. It’s scientifically proven: sunlight is good for your mental and physical health. According to Healthline, exposure to sunlight releases a hormone called serotonin that makes us feel happy. We also get our daily dose of Vitamin D from the sun, which helps regulate calcium and phosphate in our bodies for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

But what to do when it’s a dark and gloomy day? Capetonians are used to rainy autumns and winters, where we often don’t see the sun for weeks. Make sure to take extra care of your mental health on dark days so you won’t be left feeling down. Here’s how.

Write down five things you are thankful for

It’s easy to complain but once we realise how many things in life we have to be thankful for, our mindsets begin to change. Keep a journal handy and be sure to reflect on your life every now and again. Identify people, experiences or just simple blessings that you are grateful for, and write them down. You’d be surprised how quickly your list grows.

Move for at least 30 minutes 

Yes, you’ve heard it all before. But exercise really does boost your mood. Get that heart rate up for at least 30 minutes and you’ll start to feel more energetic already. There are countless home workout videos you can watch online, or simply do some good old jumping jacks.

Get some sleep

Our bodies are meant to rest in order to recharge. We can’t do well at our jobs, maintain healthy relationships and take care of our own wellbeing without getting enough sleep. So, if you find yourself with no plans, make the most of it and get some proper shut-eye.

Take a break from your phone 

It sounds daunting, we know. But it might open up a whole new world for you once you realise how much beauty there is around you on the outside of a screen. We tend to form unhealthy attachments to our devices, and it’s good to stop and smell the roses once in a while. Call it a detox of some sorts.

Take care of a pet

If you have a pet, invest some quality time with him or her. If you don’t have a pet, consider adopting one if you have the capacity to take on the responsibility. Having a dog or cat is an amazingly rewarding experience and will add a richness to your life you never even knew you missed.

Listen to your favourite music

Crank up the volume and blast the tunes! There’s nothing like a feel-good song to make you… feel good. Music has a way of lifting the spirits in no time. You can even combine this with your 30-minute exercise routine, but keep the records playing for as long as you like.

Remember, if you feel worried about your mental health, tell someone about it. Talk to a friend or seek professional help. 

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