Many of us aspire to live healthier lives, especially at the start of a new year. Day-to-day stresses like a busy workload or family pressures can leave us feeling drained, and our mental health and wellbeing can take a hit, particularly for those living in a busy urban environment. My research and experience working with clients has shown how important it is to look after yourself, particularly in the winter months.
I am seeing an increasing number of clients of all ages looking to get out of the city, either for a short weekend break or to make a permanent relocation. They are drawn to the slower pace of life, cleaner environment and access to nature on offer in the countryside.
One of my clients has recently relocated from the hustle and bustle of central London to rural Bedfordshire to find a more relaxed lifestyle. She felt an immediate drop in stress as soon as her family moved from an urban area to a village location, immersed within an abundance of green open spaces. When moving to a rural setting, you immediately become more aware of your surroundings, and in turn, more connected to the natural environment, which is hugely beneficial to both your mental and physical wellbeing.
For growing families, there comes a time when you’ll inevitably need more space, and a cleaner, safer environment to raise your children. If you have young children, it is important they have access to open spaces to roam and explore, as this stimulates their creativity and improves physical strength. Movement is vital from an early age, so make sure your children are outdoors and embracing open space wherever possible.
Here is my advice for improving your wellbeing in a rural location.
Top Tips to improve your wellbeing
Moving to the countryside can be a daunting experience, particularly if you’re moving away from an urban area you’ve grown accustomed to. Some of my clients have praised the benefit of moving into a new-build property such as the ones on offer at Barkham Place, Arborfield Green. New build homes come as a blank canvas, and unlike many period homes, do not need any time-consuming renovations. This means residents are able to get out and enjoy their new community straight away.
When relocating to a new area, it is important to venture out to the local community as soon as you can, to immerse yourself in your new neighbourhood and get to know people in the surrounding areas. In Barkham Place, Arborfield Green, there are lots of community areas local residents can enjoy, such as playing fields and a community centre that hosts events throughout the year. For example, when I moved to the countryside, I joined the local knitting group – we meet once a month in the local café, and I’ve found it has been a great way to meet new friends in the area whilst learning a brand-new skill. Getting involved in a new community and engaging with local residents is fantastic for mental wellbeing, as it fosters a sense of belonging and builds a rapport with your new neighbours.
Carefully considered interiors
Homes that feature open plan living layouts and large expanses of glass like bay windows can stimulate a sense of calm in the home, providing you with a flexible landscape to create your own personal space that you can immediately relax in. Barkham Place at Arborfield Green is the perfect space for this. With its close proximity to Hazebrook Meadow, the outdoors can be enjoyed even from within the home.
A flexible layout also allows for the practice of yoga and meditation. De-clutter your home, decorate with a soothing colour palate, and use soft furnishings to enhance this positive mindset even further. Having abstract art on walls can also inspire creativity, and spark imagination.
When living in a city, there is a tendency to consume too much processed or chilled foods that can be eaten on the go or quickly prepared after a busy day. To improve your wellbeing you should change your diet to make it as fresh and clean as possible, sticking to simple, locally-sourced products. Outside of the big cities, people tend to have more time to cook meals from scratch, which forms the basis of a healthy diet.
If you have the space, I recommend growing your own local produce in your back garden. Rural locations are better suited to this, whereas in cities properties are predominantly flats or apartments lacking access to outside space or a garden. However, if you only have a small garden or limited space, growing herbs in your kitchen or tomatoes on your balcony can be really rewarding too. Gardening and cultivating your own produce has been proven to lower stress, keep you physically strong, and give you the satisfaction of creating something for yourself.
Get out and active wherever possible. So many people have become desk-bound, particularly those working in high-pressured jobs in cities, when even lunch will be consumed at a desk in front of a computer screen. Being seated for long periods of time is detrimental to health, it switches off all the muscles in your back, legs and neck. People often don’t realise how important is it to stimulate your muscles from an early age – you need to invigorate muscle and movement memory, as this is what will take you into old age.
Take a break from phones and the internet to calm your mind, and use it as a chance to reconnect with your environment. We are becoming increasingly cut off from nature and dependent on technology, and living in a world that is almost a virtual reality. Take a digital detox by setting aside time in the evenings and at weekends with no ‘screen time’ to concentrate on spending time with your loved ones and prevent yourself from being contactable 24 hours of every day. This will also stimulate your creativity to flow more freely, as you can transfer your energy spent scrolling, liking and sharing into something imaginative, original, and tangible.
Meditation and mindfulness are two important processes for calming the body and relieving stress. If you have the time, set aside ten minutes each morning to meditate. This enables you to focus and remove yourself from external pressures, which has a hugely soothing influence on the body and is immensely beneficial to your mental wellbeing.