- Mental Health
Raising the Mood
I won't lie. As soon as hints of winter arise, I become a Debby Downer. I don't like the cold, I don't like the dark and I don't like the wet. None of those things are my friends! As a result, I become a little bit melancholy after pretty soon after October.
I'm not the only one. I live in Washington State, and it is a not very wintery place. By that I mean we don't get the thick fluffly blankets of snow, or if we do, it doesn't last long and just turns to ice and nothing more. We get rain and slush. Many people in my hometown are pedestrians or bikers, and this weather just does not cut the mustard for non-driving traveling!
Washington and north depression rates are high in the winter. It is not uncommon to feel the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). For some it is mild, for others it is intense. I will stop you now, I have no answers for the intense symptoms. However, the general blues I can help you beat.
- HowStuffWorks: "Does smiling make you happy?"
Can smiling make you happy? Take a look at research and explanations behind whether or not smiling can make you happy. In this you will read how certain vowel faces can help mood, temperature and fear!
- 24 of the Easiest Houseplants You Can Grow
24 of the Easiest House Plants You Can Grow! Grow these no-fuss houseplants to bring life and color to your home.
- Little Known Cause of Depression
How a toxic bowel can put a frown on your face
Tools to a Smile
A simple thing one can do to be happier is to just smile. Even if you don't want to, even if you don't want any one else to see your smile, just smile. You can do this when you get up, when you go to bed, when you're in the bathroom, when you're walking your dog, when you're cooking lunch - any time! This doesn't mean smiling no matter what. If you find out you just got a pay cut or your dog got hit by a car - it is OK not to smile! What I mean is to make smiling a ritual and habit, something you can do without thinking.
Most people when they walk look toward the ground. This may not seem like anything significant. You many simply be ensuring your steady step, shielding your eyes from the brightness of the sky, or just feel awkward looking at the on-coming people. However, looking down can un-align your chakras, and disrupt the flow of energy, which can have an emotional effect.
As well as this, the sun, even through a duvet of clouds, enters in through your eyes, and stimulates the pineal gland, which is the gland that secretes hormones such as melatonin (when it's dark) and serotonin (your happy chemical). If the sun is unable to stimulate this gland then melatonin can be released, and serotonin will not be released.
Charlotte from Charlotte's Web had it right: "Chin up, it'll lighten up the darkest place!"
Plants in the house help to purify the energy and clear the air. They bring an element of life to a room, especially during the winter when the only green is the evergreens, and even they look a bit glum. Don't be afraid to have plants, even if you lack a green thumb.
Plants can also relax you and ensure you have a cleaner breathing environment, which is especially important if you live near a busy road. They take in the carbon dioxide we exhale and return it as nice clean oxygen. Having plants in the bedroom can also help to induce sleep!
What are your exercise solutions?
I am lazy. I will not be afraid to admit that. But, it is true that one can be happier the more active they are. This will bring blood flow to the brain and help one to perk up, be more alert, and get out of one's own head! It causes the brain to release endorphins which have a similar effect as morphine (though much healthier!).
Some good ways to ease into exercise, especially if you're a sloth like I am, are:
- Walk everywhere, or at least, increase your walking destinations. This will work doubly to your advantage as it will cut back on car usage, thus gas usage, thus less money stress!
- Yoga. Yoga is a very simple yet profoundly powerful exercise tool. It feels easy as you get into it, but the benefits are immense, as I will get into later.
- Kitchen exercise. That sounds silly, I know! But it's simple. When you reach down to get that heavy caste iron pan, turn it into a squat. Then, "forget" the pan and stand back up, and go for it again. Repeat this a few times. When you go to reach for the bag of flour, put it on the counter, then put it away, put it on the counter, then put it away. Turning general activities into an exercise is a good way to get yourself pumped for a good work out later.
Mood Boosting Food Recipes
Ensuring a healthy diet is important not just to your body, but to your moods as well. When you get the nutrients you need, your body isn't working so hard to break your processed food down and sort out what can be used in the body and what needs to be going to waste. More energy is a good way to a good smile. I personally find a pint or two of fresh juice is a good way to get me going an happy.
Lighting a candle can be beneficial. It is said that it is bad Feng Shui to have a room without a lit candle. I have found that the physical heat and the energetic warmth that it brings to be quite soothing, and I have always enjoyed scented candles as well. Simply watching the flame can be a means of centering the self and letting go of little stresses, and coming to understand the fragility of energy. Experiment and make sure there is a candle burning in the room you're in. Do not forget basic candle and fire safety!
This can mean cleansing the self, cleansing the house, or just generally cleaning! Negative energies hide in dark little nooks and crannies, and a clean atmosphere in all aspects can make a world of change in a mood! If your house is already clean, try smudging. This is the act of burning white sage and bringing it around the house, especially under cupboards, fireplaces, closets, under desks, and so on. This doesn't mean leave your burning sage there, but just making sure the smoke gets to these places. Another method is clapping three times in these places as well, or ringing a bell.
Self-cleansing can be as simple as a bath. See my Preparing for Ritual Hub for more details.
Adjust Your Expectations
There's no harm in aiming high - I'm a firm believer in shooting as far as you can, and seeing where you end up. However, be flexible with what you expect. It's alright for things to not turn out the way you planned them to. The fun of life is that you don't know where the road is going to take you. If you expect that you'll always be moving forward, and that life is a learning journey, then as long as you're learning along the way, you won't be let down.
This sounds so simple, yet can be so difficult as adults! We forget what was so basic to us as children, the letting go of poise and just remembering how to have fun! This can be dancing, going to a park and getting on the jungle-gym (yes, I do mean playing in the park), having a silly game night with friends - anything. Just play.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and not see your friends as much. But it can make a difference when you do, especially if it is regularly. Have a dinner night with your friends once a week, rotating who's house everyone makes dinner at. Have tea at a posh tea shop during a lunch break. Go to music shows and meet strangers!
Don't Forget to Fly
A huge part of just being bummed out is being bored. Don't let yourself get bored! What have you been wanting to do all these years? Where did you hope to be at this age? Why aren't you there? Set yourself projects that get you excited. Plan a trip, take up a new hobby that you don't think you'll like. Try something new.
Imagination in the spice of life, so don't forget to put that thing to use!