Updated: Dec 19, 2019
It's winter season here in New England, there's no spring in sight especially in Boston where I live. During this time of year it's my number one priority to manage stress to keep vibing high with a positive mindset. A few weeks ago, I noticed a dip in my mood, mostly because I couldn't be outside exercising as much as I do in the warm weather. So I got creative and turned to these activities and tools to manage my mood.
When you don't manage your emotions or thoughts, especially during the winter, you start to see and feel things in a negative way. You aren't your thoughts or your emotions, so it really becomes a matter of using a holistic approach to maintain positive thoughts and release negative feelings quickly to maintain high energy. In this post I'm sharing with you my top tried-and-true, practical ways to be peaceful, joyful, and balanced during the winter:
1. Light Therapy
I use a Verilux brand 'Happy Light' which mimics the sun. Since our body and brain's chemistry is directly affected by light, and there's only a small window of time during the day when the sun is out in the winter, we need to ensure we are still getting this in a natural way. This UV-free light (with an intensity measured in lux to be 10,000 to mimic a bright sunny day) stimulates our body's production of serotonin (which improves mood and happiness) and regulates melatonin in the evening (which promotes sleep). In this way it resets your circadian rhythm. This was such a small investment for the positive effects it delivers, and its quite small to fit on your bedside table and travel with. I use this only for 10-15 minutes a day, while I'm on my computer or meditating in the morning. Verilux is a trusted company and this is the number 1 selling light therapy lamp on Amazon.
2. Gentle activity
I go on a nature hike or half hour walk in my neighborhood as much as the weather permits. Even during the snowier months of December and January, I made it a point to go to a new reservation each weekend to walk outdoors for fresh air and this significantly boosted my positive mood. Yoga is something I go to at least twice a week, and biking at the gym. When your mood and energy levels are more susceptible to being down in the winter, it is much harder to motivate yourself to exercise at higher intensity levels. So a little bit of gentle energy focused in this way each day is equally effective and doable.
3. Himalayan Salt Lamp
These salt lamps give off negative ions when they are turned on, which are similar to the properties of ions that are given off in running water in a river, lightening storms, sunlight, waterfalls, and ocean waves. Water itself is very healing, so in this same way you feel renewed and refreshed when the light is on. These lamps soothe allergies, while attracting pollutants in the air to stick to them, and even help neutralize the effects of blue light given off by electronics. Most importantly, the reason I use these lamps is to help boost mood and energy levels, especially for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The soft orange hues are soothing colors used to calm mood and increase focus.
4. Medical Grade Essential Oils
Essential oils are my go-to tools to manage my emotional well-being. The sense of smell is our most primal sense, so it exerts a powerful influence over our thoughts, emotions, moods, memories, and behaviors. Aromas are received via olfactory receptors, which are highly concentrated in the limbic system, the primitive part of the brain and seat of emotion. Stress also affects the limbic system, but in a negative way. These oils affect us much like a hit of a mood-altering drug would, but with healthful results instead. So to manage stress, I use the essential oil in correspondence to its effects on how I would like to feel. Used in a diffuser or simply adding a few drops to water to drink, Peppermint or Lemon is invigorating, while Wild Orange is mood-boosting. doTERRA's Cheer Uplifting Roller ball blend, Elevation Joyful blend, Bergamot, Melissa and Grapefruit are all super winter mood boosters I've been using. I roll the Cheer blend using the roller on my inner arms throughout the day, then sniff directly or diffuse the other oils. These have kept me uplifted, balanced, and centered.
5. Active Social Activities
Seeing friends in the winter to meet up and do something active is an amazing mood booster. It's great to catch up and support each other, while also boosting your endorphins and doing something fun and active together. Recently I've gone indoor rock climbing and done aerial yoga with my friends, and it has been such a positive experience. I noticed it increases your confidence and attitude when you learn something new while having fun, while sharing the experience of uplifting and supporting each other. You can easily do these gentle activities with friends, along with snowshoeing or ice skating as other ideas. Get out in your community and do something fun!
Meditation has been my practice for the last couple of years, but this winter I truly noticed how positive its effect on my management of moods and positive thoughts. I increased my time to meditate daily, using the Insight Meditation app, and in turn it has allowed me to feel centered, calm, and happy regardless of the outside circumstances (such as winter :)). There are hundreds of guided meditations in this app, that are separated in different categories you can choose like sleep, productivity, spirituality, happiness, stress release and more. Now I meditate at least 1 hour a day if not more, and it actually increases my time to focus on my businesses as I center myself and release stress. You can easily meditate for just 5 minutes a day and it will have the same positive effect you can slowly build upon.
7. Healthy Diet & Supplements
I drink a smoothie everyday to boost my immunity while getting all the nutrients I need in a yummy way. Just throw pineapple, nut mylk, kale or spinach, spirulina, and a banana in a Magic Bullet or Vitamix blender. Spirulina is very nutrient dense, and I use it to sub my fruits/veggies for the day. I normally eat healthy year round, but in the winter I amp it up. It's part of my preventative wellness plan to eat as much vegetables and fruits as possible, so I'll have a salad every day and make a ton of soups. For supplements I take a vegan Life Long Vitality supplement as my foundation, Terrazyme digestive enzymes, then add a probiotic for gut health and Mito2Max as an adaptogen and natural energy/mood support. This way I can still enjoy some desserts and dinners out without going overboard because most of my diet is very healthy. In my Integrative Wellness coaching training, one of the beneficial lessons I learned in terms of nutrition is the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time I adhere to healthy life choices, and 20% of time I relax and do what I want to do. This is an effective long term wellness strategy as it eliminates an all or nothing mentality.
These are my tips on how to manage the winter blues, particularly if you live somewhere where the winters are cold and long like in New England. During this time it's so important to manage your moods and thoughts to ensure they are positive. Let me know in the comments which of these work best for you and if you have any other techniques you use I would love to hear about them!
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