With the return of cold, dark mornings and even colder, darker nights, it can be hard to keep sight of your wellness goals and make sure your mental and physical wellbeing is on track. So we’ve rounded up seven of the best ways to keep the winter blues at bay in London over the coming season
Forest Bathing in North London
First made popular in Japan in the 1980s, forest bathing (or Shinrin-Yoku) comes with a plethora of proven health benefits, including reduced cortisol, blood pressure and anxiety, as well as improved empathy and creativity. Psychotherapist Claire de Boursac has brought the practice to London, running regular guided sessions in Queen’s Wood in Highgate. Each one lasts two hours and takes you through a succession of carefully crafted exercises designed to help still your mind, heighten your senses and deepen your connection to the surrounding environment. Afterwards you’ll be invited to bathe in the serenity of the woods and take a closer look at the finer details of nature around you, before leaving feeling grounded, connected and ready to take on anything the city has to throw at you.
Queens Wood, Highgate, natureasnurture.com
We all know that regular meditation is key to switching off — especially when you live in a city that doesn’t sleep — but that doesn’t make it any easier to master. If stilling your mind is a struggle, a session in one of Inhere Studio’s mediation pods could be the answer. Created by a team of meditation experts and interior designers, each one creates a sheltered, calming space out of wooden slats, encircling a comfortable meditation chair. Once in the chair you can listen to one of the guided meditation sessions on the in-built headphones to relax, as gentle lighting washes over you. If you’d rather just catch 40 winks, book into one of Pop & Rest’s private pods for a mind-boosting power nap. With branches in Shoreditch and Holborn, you can even squeeze it in during your lunch break.
Ground Floor – Unit 1, 10-12 Bache’s Street, N1 6DL and 29 Lincoln In fields, Holborn WC2A 3EG, popnrest.com
Haven’t got a green bone in your body and kill any plant that comes within three feet of you? Then terrariums are the answer to your urban gardening woes. Not only do they add some welcome greenery to your home, the art of creating them is also deeply grounding and meditative. Leafage run excellent workshops across London – head to their next one in Balham on 19 January to create your own miniature garden – as do London Terrariums, who run weekly sessions from Peckham to King’s Cross.
The Exhibit, 12 Balham Station Road, SW12 9SG; weareleafage.com
As much as we may love our food, most of us are woefully disconnected from the journey it goes through before it actually reaches our plate – which is why organisations like Forage London are so genius. The organisation offers foraging events in parks across London throughout the year, ideal for re-grounding and becoming better attuned with the world around you. Events this winter include rummaging for roots in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, wild food walks in Hampstead Heath and mushroom-growing workshops in Stoke Newington.
Various locations, foragelondon.co.uk
DIY Art Market Events and Workshops
Indoor plants have been proven to enhance our mood and improve our connection to nature, but the pots they’re housed in can do just as much to boost our happiness. Or at least that’s the philosophy behind DIY Art Shop’s ‘Grown and Thrown’ workshop on 8 and 9 February. Come to choose from a range of quirky ceramic pots and planters and match them with a selection of cacti, succulents and houseplants to create the perfect pairing.
DIY Art Shop, 129 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EB, diyartmarket.com
Storytelling has been used as a healing tool for centuries and in our fractured society it’s now more vital than ever. Sister Stories is taking this ancient tradition and bringing it into the modern world. The concept is simple: they facilitate women gathering in circle across London and beyond to share the truth of their experiences, as a way of fostering deeper connections and communities. Under skies, under stars, in living rooms, around kitchen tables, women have gathered for millennia – Sister Stories offers a simple, powerful reimagining of this practice. Their next event, in Streatham on 12 January, promises to leave you feeling ‘calmer, happier and more connected’.
Leigham Court Road, SW16 2SF, sisterstories.co
The Mindfulness Project
Housed in a beautiful 18th-century townhouse overlooking Fitzroy Square, The Mindfulness Project is an innovative hub for those looking to learn how to meditate and master the art of living in the present. The space runs weekly meditation sessions on Wednesdays and Thursdays, as well as regular one-day mindfulness retreats and eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses, scientifically proven to help people cope better with stress, depression and anxiety. There’s no better way to re-set and re-charge your batteries ahead of winter.
6 Fitzroy Square, W1T 5DX, londonmindful.com