January, this first month of the new year, always starts off with great hope and promise. Often, however, those feelings of optimism and expectation sour as the weather turns colder and the sun remains behind dark clouds for weeks on end.
The winter months can quickly become times of isolation and our realities devolve into gloominess. It certainly can affect our outlook on life in general. Scientists call it Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), and we casually refer to this mindset as the Winter Blues. Even the reality of facing the difficulty of sticking to (or already failing at) our new year’s resolutions can give a negative spin to our mood.
Sadly (pun intended), many people become victims to the winter blues and it can happen so gradually that people often don’t realize what’s happening in their personal world until life seems suddenly “all wrong.”
The good news is that there are simple fixes to transform you back into a happy, productive individual. You might try one or two, or several, of these simple mood elevators to get you back on track with your life. All are helpful in one way or another, and to use an old pharmacy term, “Apply as needed.”
1) Experience more natural light. This time of the year, we tend to stay indoors where it is warm, but that usually isolates us and keeps us more in the dark. Put on a coat and take a walk. Get out of the house for a short stroll in your neighborhood or in a park. Even lightening up your home by opening the window coverings for an hour a day can help.
2) Some people add a bit more color to their indoor surroundings during this time of the year and many say that helps brighten their moods as well.
3) Scientists tell us that we can revitalize our outlook on life by simply changing the background on our computers to a beach photo or some other happy, expansive scene.
1) Taking a moment to better organize our lives helps brighten the moods of many. It defines expectations and creates a better focus on free time. Clean out some clutter around the house that you’ve been ignoring (or have been stepping over repeatedly) or do some other task that you’ve been putting off.
2) Arrange a to-do list in a realistic, actionable fashion and check off the items when completed. You’ll love the feeling of accomplishment every time you finish one of those chores.
3) Start a new hobby—something you’ve always wanted to do but never found the time for.
Feel the Burn!
Stay active and increase exercise, or start a new exercise regimen (even if you start with just a few minutes a day). The physical and psychological lift will amaze you.
Fuel Your Mood!
1) Increase your intake of seasonal produce. Studies show that the more fruits and vegetables people consume, the happier they become.
3) Eat some dark chocolate. Scientists indicate that even one ounce can make you feel calmer and more content.
4) Consider chamomile tea to not only warm your tummy but also to warm your mood. A University of Pennsylvania study found that chamomile significantly eased symptoms of anxiety.
Become a Groupie!
1) Socialize more and surround yourself with friends and family. Seeking out human interaction is a natural mood elevator and minimizes the negative components in your life.
2) Stay positive by surrounding yourself with positive, energetic people.
1) Help others by doing some volunteer work. Philanthropic work is a well-documented mood enhancer.
2) Write a thank you note to someone who has been nice to you or has done you a favor. It will have a double impact by making you feel good about yourself as well as brighten the mood of the person on the receiving end of your appreciation.
Get Professional Help!
When all else fails, seek professional help. For more serious depression, there may be an underlying cause that requires professional guidance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your life may depend on it.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!