Where's your head at? 5 tips for staying on track in 2021

This last year has been dreadful for so many of us, with millions dealing with grief, stress, financial difficulties, job losses, relationship break-ups, injury and isolation caused by the pandemic.

This week, the new lockdown in England and similar restrictions across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are adding to the gloom of winter; a season that can be tough for many of us even in normal times, but there are some #tips and techniques we can practice to give ourselves a lift.

Here are five tips to stop the walls caving in on you and keep yourself sane, develop more of a sense of optimism and keep your running mojo intact:-

1. Keep moving and produce more protein

Getting outdoors and keeping moving for exercise can be more challenging in winter, but pretty much all experts agree that it's a great way to boost your mood.

Our minds and bodies are completely inseparable. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream, relieving pain and producing a feeling of well-being.

Running increases electrical activity in the emotional processing areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex. Therefore, it stands to reason that lack of exercise increases your risk of anxiety and depression.

Exercise can also boost the production of a protein: Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is crucial for brain health. BDNF is like a kind of brain fertiliser, it helps parts of your brain regenerate. Even short periods of exercise, say a 10- minute walk can help.