In winter many of us have to reach a bit harder to bring in some brightness to our life. After all, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real!
The cold, inclement weather and the reduced hours of daylight can have a profound effect on our mood.
For this reason I think that it’s timely to remind ourselves that there are so many things we can do to make winter not only bearable, but maybe even something to be enjoyed. Here’s just a few ideas to get you started.
Choose your focus
What are you choosing to notice …and what else could you notice instead?
We tend to get more of what we focus on, so if you find that you’re focusing on the grey weather, and noticing how gloomy it makes you feel, what else could you tune into and focus on to brighten yourself up? The comfort of a cosy fire? Being with friends and family? Cheering on your favourite sports team from the sideline? It‘s going to be different strokes for different folks, so pay attention to some of the good and maybe even beautiful things happening around you and focus on those.
This morning I was driving to work, running a bit late and I knew I had to deliberately change my focus because I was starting to feel a bit stressed. I looked out of my car window as I drove past the estuary and noticed how beautiful it looked in the bright winter sunlight. Calm as a millpond, with hundreds of birds, it was truly a gorgeous moment and it re-set my thinking – a much better way to start my working day.
Do more of what you enjoy
This might sound like stating the obvious, but it can be so easy to let “life get in the way” of what we enjoy and it’s amazing how the things we have to do have a way of filling up the time and space for what we want to do. I can be really guilty of allowing this to happen myself.
When I notice the life starts to feel like it’s getting out of balance with too much work and the perception of too many obligations, that’s when I know I need to check in and earmark some time to do something I really enjoy. It mightn’t even be anything spectacular or time-consuming. It could simply be putting aside time for a quick blast around your nearest park, a brisk beach walk or picking up the guitar. Often we’ll believe that we don’t have enough time to do what we love, but add up your weekly screen time and you’ll probably be enlightened about the amount of time spent – time that you could be spending doing something more uplifting. Ask yourself what you’d rather be doing, taking onto account what’s available to you, and dedicate some time for that. You might have to diarise or schedule it to make sure it happens.
We’ve touched on the positive emotional benefits of giving before. If you’re feeling a bit down yourself, finding someone (or a few people) to give to will help you feel more positive yourself. You might choose to give more time and focus to people you know already or even volunteer your time to help complete strangers. Either way, the evidence is clear, giving can significantly boost your mood.
How about doing some random acts of kindness? If you’re short of ideas for what to do, google! Here’s a website I found with some ideas to start you off.
Dial up your appreciation
This is somewhat related to the first point I made, choosing your focus. If it all exists in the moment – the good, the bad and the downright ugly, practice paying attention to and appreciating the good. This is a habit of thinking that you can cultivate with practice. Something I have noticed with the people I’ve worked with over the years, is that those who are happiest are those who are highly appreciative. The great news is that if you tend to be more of a “glass half empty” kind of person, with some deliberate practice you can become more “glass half full”. You could even combine an act of kindness with this by finding a way to tell someone how much you appreciate them.