By Ashley Davis, USDR Contributor
Yes, the holidays are a distant memory and the spring thaw seems ages away. For many of us, the early months of the New Year have the uninspired feel of the winter blues. Our bodies react to less sun, cooler weather and less fresh air and these changes can wreak havoc on our minds and emotions. So how do we deal with the sluggishness that often accompanies this time of year? A few shifts of attention and simple new behaviors will help take the chill out of the long winter.
Invigorate – With the cooler weather we tend to stay indoors and move less. Although getting outside and exercising is optimal, the weather outside could be frightful. Try this breathing exercise, which you can do regardless of the weather, to boost your energy: relax your shoulders and breathe in for the count of 5, hold for the count of 5 and then exhale slowly.
Hibernate – Don’t fight it. Take a cue from nature’s rhythm. This is a time to sleep more, to draw inward, and to conserve energy. Try going to sleep ½ an hour to 1 hour earlier than you normally would. You will find that if your body rests more, you’ll have more energy during the waking hours.
Appreciate – Notice positive aspects of the winter weather around you. Enjoy looking at the branches of the trees, beautiful silhouettes that aren’t visible during the green leafy months. Take up a winter sport like skating or skiing. Develop the habit of noticing and savoring hot fires, warm sweaters, cozy blankets and hearty soup – enjoy the things that have no place in July but are perfect in February.
Create – Take some time to plan a summer vacation or activity. Actually take notes and visit a web site or two. As you do, take time to pause, close your eyes and imagine your summer activity with all the details, the smells, the warmth and the sights. Let the spirit of summer lift your mood and create motivation.
Anticipate – If all else fails, remind yourself that ‘this too shall pass.’ No winter lasts forever. Remember that life is in flux, constant motion. Before you know it, spring will be roaring in like a lion and the winter will be a distant memory.
We can’t control the seasons but we can control our reactions to them. Winter weather may be challenging but when we learn to direct our minds to the positive, we can carry a warm feeling with us all year long.