Part 4 of our Boost Your Mood series
Look around you. Does the environment look safe? Does it look cared for? Does it look under control? You might think that the things going on inside your head are the biggest influence on your mood but your surroundings play an outsized role in changing the way you feel at any given moment. Change your scenery, and change your mood. Here's how:
Hygge, but not as you know it
If you have read any lifestyle or wellbeing articles, you will have read about the concept of 'Hygge' from Denmark. It's a lifestyle concept that has been scientifically shown to improve mood and wellbeing especially in the darker winter months.
All these articles will tell you that the word translates to 'cozy' but - as someone who lived in Denmark as a teenager* - I can tell you that it is a lot more than mere coziness, candlelight and cocoa, which is what is always suggested to create a hygge environment.
(*As a side note, please ignore any articles which tell you to pronounce the word HOO-gah. It will make Danish people cringe. Just search for an interview with Meik Wiking, the Dane who popularised the concept outside Denmark to learn how to say it.)
It also has connotations of care, and things being in order; little annoyances taken care of. A 'hyggeligt' time can be had when you're not in a 'cozy' environment whatsoever. In Denmark, as long as you're experiencing a moment where the inconveniences of life are not encroaching on the moment, it can be hygge. Time taken to banish irritation will increase the opportunity for hygge.
So for example, an electric bike ride can be hygge. If you pick a route that you know well and enjoy, you pack a pannier with things that you will need, invite friends and family who you want to spend time with, and take time to savour the whole journey, there's a high chance you'll experience the stress-busting effects of hygge, and not a candle in sight!
Examples of what is not hygge:
- A ride on a bike that's the wrong size.
- A ride up a hill that is too steep to pedal up.
- A group ride where people go at different speeds and get separated.
A good e-bike can help with all of the above issues, of course.
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Get local recommendations for places to visit
Over the last 10 years or so, the number of cycle routes has expanded rapidly in the UK. Organisations such as Sustrans, Cycling UK (formerly the CTC) and local councils have been busy building routes in both urban and rural settings, with free maps available to make it easy to navigate.
The picture above shows a route in central Croydon. Yes, Croydon. That is a real heron in a real river...in central Croydon.
A good bike route lets you escape from the madness of the world. A good bike route gives your senses things to engage with that are separate from your everyday routine. It could be the birdsong in a particular forest, or the architecture in a historical village that immerses you in the moment.
It's easier than ever to get a personal recommendation for a good bike route based on what you like. Join a local Facebook group and ask around. People are happy to tell you which routes are best if you need to stop half way at a cafe or pub, and also which routes get badly affected by rain or traffic.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, people used their daily outdoor exercise time to get outside and find all these green spaces they'd never had the time to explore before. Now, these hidden gems have been discovered, all you have to do is ask.
For inspiration on where to ride, sign up to our newsletter: Charged Up!
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Pack a picnic pannier
Electric bikes have a big advantage over conventional bikes because they can haul so much luggage. OK, so you don't have to bring your whole pantry like in the Tern GSD photo above!
Panniers are easy to put on, and you'll notice that with the exception of our electric mountain bikes, most of our bikes already come with racks as standard. The Jarifa mountain bike actually comes with pre-drilled holes so that you can easily fit a rack at a later date.
Fill a pannier with all the treats you know will bring a smile to your face when you unpack it at your picnic site. A good bike ride should feel like a completely different world to our normal one, which means dieting rules don't exist.
Psychologists agree. Occasional treats - having something to look forward to - is a simple way to keep your mood up.
This brand of e-bike is a good option for carrying things in panniers.
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Find a view
There is intriguing research to suggest that getting a view of large expanses of nature - the sky, water, meadows, valleys - has incredible effects on your mood.
In various research around the world, looking at the sky was correlated with being more creative, looking at the sea was associated with feeling calmer, and being able to see expansive views has been shown to produce feelings of safety.
Sally Agustin, PHD, who specialises in Environmental Psychology says:
"To start, calming views feature trees that we could have scampered up to see what was going on in our world and open grassy areas that would have made it easier for us to spot danger approaching.
The most preferred and relaxing views of nature include some sort of clean, fresh-appearing water element."
There are some great bike routes that integrate all of these mood-boosting features.
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Get away from traffic
Nobody likes traffic. The noise pollution, the air pollution, the danger, the waiting, the way that people start behaving like Little Emperor's the moment they're in their own motorised bubble. Traffic is bad for humanity.
Nobody looks at a road with hundreds of cars trundling past and thinks, "Ah, this is the life!"
Getting away from roads is a great way to resettle your mind. To enjoy silence, fresh air, and healthy dose of solitude is a fast way to decompress and let your mind process what it needs to process.
We can recommend the Traffic-Free Cycle Trails book by Nick Cotton which has 400 traffic-free cycling trails around Great Britain.
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Summary: An e-bike can help you access environments that can boost your mood because they can go where cars aren't allowed, where walking takes too long, or where traditional bikes would struggle.
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