Now that the holidays are over, and the long days of winter are here, many of us suffer from feeling melancholy. Some may even suffer from worse and have seasonal depression which often needs to be treated by a medical professional.
For the those that simply feel a little blue, there are some easy mood lifting activities that you might expect and some that you may not.
- Simulate light by picking up a light box that mimics sunlight. Sit by the box and read a book or meditate for a while. If there happens to be sunlight of any kind, sit near a window or if weather is permitting, step outside for a bit. You might also want to pull back the curtains or trim back foliage that blocks the natural light from streaming in through the windows. It can do wonders to add cheer.
- Lay off the carbs, try chocolate instead. As we all know, carbs and refined sugar tend to rev up the body and lend to feelings of a false euphoria only to crash later. Chocolate on the other hand can enhance your mood naturally, and hey, it tastes great!
- Plan a vacation. Even though you might not get to go on that vacation until later in the year, the very act of planning the trip gives you something to look forward to and increases your happiness and optimism. It takes you beyond the immediate and allows you to project to a future date. If you are lucky enough to take a holiday during the winter months, mores the better.
- Redecorate and bring in a spot of yellow. Use of the color yellow in small doses can enhance the mood as it is uplifting but beware that yellow should be in small doses. For some, the color may encourage anxious feelings. Add a yellow throw pillow to your sofa or a bowl of fresh lemons in the kitchen on the counter. The key is to add little bits of the color around the house to where it will lift the spirits like a sunshine filled day. If you are in the mood for a complete change in your home environment, that will give you something to hone your focus and before you know it, spring blooms will be popping out on trees and tiny flower heads peaking out of the last traces of the winter freeze.
- Try a new exercise or workout. If you are someone who already shows up to the gym a few days a week then this idea is great for you. Alternatively, if you struggle with working out, then you really should give this idea a go. We all know the benefits of regular exercise are synergistic as it is good for mind, body, and soul. When trying a new workout, select something that interests you but yet is a match for your fitness level. So, if you don’t workout often, you should probably hold off on running five miles or hiking to the summit, and if you are someone who runs three miles on the treadmill then lifts weights, try Pilates or Yoga. It is a nice way to locate your center.
- Meditate. This goes without saying that mediation is a great way to find balance and center your energy. Many may find being alone with their thoughts can heighten the bad feelings so when you meditate, try thinking of a subject you want to focus on before you start. Find a quiet place where interruptions can be halted. Be sure that you are comfortable and if it helps, turn on soft background music that will inspire positivity but such that it won’t take away from the goal. Speaking of goal, plan to start small with your meditation periods. Try for small increments at first then build up to as long as it takes for you to walk through the process with a restorative outcome. Don’t know how to prompt yourself? Try visualizing a walk through a treed lane with the warm sunlight filtering through the canopy of trees. Think about what you would hear, birds singing and squirrels chirping, a slight warm breeze blowing past while the filters of sun are kissing the top of your head. Also think about what you smell and how the crunching of the pebbled path feels under your feet. Alternatively, think of walking along the ocean shore with your shoes sitting in a pile on a blanket on the beach on dry sand. Your bare feet coming in contact with the wet sand. How does that feel? The waves crashing before breaking into the shore, you feel little splashes hitting your pant leg. Overhead the gulls are circling while the salt air tickles your nose. The cool breeze is countered by the warm sun making its way through the sparse cloud covering. The key is use visualization along with full immersion of the senses. It may take a few tries to allow yourself to not think about paying the bills or creating a to-do list. Keep at it and you will eventually find a way to allow yourself to escape and clear your mind.
- Volunteer. Doing something for others inspires a feeling of satisfaction and can be very rewarding. If you are not sure how to find time to volunteer think of something small like running an errand or taking a meal to shut in. Many non-profit organizations have a shortage of volunteers so there are many opportunities to contribute on a regular schedule or when your time allows. Many retirement or assisted care homes welcome volunteers as well. You could read books or if you know how to sing or play an instrument the residents love to be entertained. Many pet shelters have volunteering opportunities as do parks and recreation centers. The point is not to add to your already cluttered schedule though, so find something that truly interests you and will inspire you to help others.
- Remove the clutter. Looping back to your home environment, when living in clutter, it can inspire feelings of blah. Instead of letting your stuff get the better of you, try getting a jump on your spring cleaning. If you have just a few things to purge, then the task should be swift and rather pain free. If you happen to be someone who has a difficult time ridding your home environment of excess, this may prove to be more of a challenge. Let’s assume for a moment that cleaning out your home is at the bottom of your list of activities that you care to partake. In order to get started, pick a room or area of your home that you feel you can reasonably tackle. Donate as much as you can, throwing out or recycling the items that a thrift store would not be able to re-sell. The goal is to find order in your haven, which will help to achieve a feeling of well-being.
- Get outside. Even if the weather is nasty with rain, wind, snow, and sleet, stepping outside for a few minutes and taking in deep breaths of air will help clear your mind and regain focus. Whether you are at work or home, taking a few minutes to stretch and change your energy will do wonders. If the weather simply does not allow for you to actually go outside, open the window for a few minutes or at least stick your head out the door taking a deep breath then duck back inside. The point is breathing fresh air and cleansing.
- Hang out with friends or family. Meet up with friends for Saturday brunch, or as mentioned many times before, if weather is permitting, invite your friends for a walk or hike. Take in a movie, meet for coffee, attend a seminar, or join a book club. Throw a party and invite all your favorite people. If throwing a party scares you get some take-out and host a game night. The point is to surround yourself with people that recharge your batteries. As humans are social creatures, spending time with others is one of the best ways to inspire good vibes.