Apparently January 25th is set to be the most depressing day of 2010. Called “Blue Monday” the Monday on the last week of January each yr is the day when we’re most likely to feel down and lack-lustre. This is often attributed to the combination of debt from Christmas, cold and wet weather, suffering from colds and flu and the lack of a public holiday on the horizon!
What can we do when we succumb to the Winter Blues? The usual distractions of overeating, drinking alcohol or vegging out in front of the TV that many of us are tempted by can lead to addition physical and emotional difficulties. What simple, sustainable alternatives are there?
First of all, we need to have a deeper understanding of why the Winter season has a tendency to get us down. In addition to the cultural, materialistic reasons mentioned above, there are natural, energetic reasons why this happens. The energetic nature of Winter is to be cold and damp. The physical effect of this on our bodies is to make us feel like exercising less, expending less energy and eating more. Emotionally the effects are to make us feel like making fewer changes, taking fewer risks and staying grounded.
One of the wonderful benefits of living more simply and sustainably is that our self-awareness becomes supercharged and our sensitivity to our surroundings, and in particular what the natural world is up to, becomes greatly enhanced. As this awareness matures, we are more likely to notice how, when our environment changes with the seasons, it affects how we feel. Then we can start to make any rather different decisions about how to respond to that in a simple, sustainable way.
This might not eliminate “Blue Monday” altogether, but it may well lead to us having a much more comfortable and productive day.
So, how do we change our approach?
Rather than resisting the qualities of Winter that we don’t like, we can choose to accept the cold and the wetness. What can we find about Winter that we enjoy and look forward to? By accepting what is, we can start to relax and reduce the stress that we are imposing on ourselves. We might even begin to enjoy it!
This is a kind of “if you cannot beat it, join it” principle. It’s all about engaging with Winter, but in a way that nourishes our minds and bodies. For example, we can make a point of enjoying any light, moderate exercise each day (not as much as we might during the other seasons). If we cultivate a winter habit of wrapping up warm and walking for a short time around midday, when there is most sunlight, then this also boosts our mood and encourages vitamin D production. This in turn can increase our feelings of energy and wellbeing. Eating warming, lightly cooked, balanced foods at our major meal times not only warms us from the inside, but helps to endure that we get adequate nourishment to boost our immunity to colds and flu. This is a time to use our company cafeteria rather than take a cold, packed lunch to work or to take time out to cook our main meal at lunchtime if we’re working from home. Another healthy way to engage with winter is to take steps to improve our sleep patterns. Rather than fighting winter by attempting to get by on the same amount of sleep we need in the summer, we can accept that our needs vary with the seasons and give ourselves permission to sleep a little more.
My third remedy is a favourite of mine for alleviating the blues, feelings of fear and apathy and general malaise – action. What type is prescribed in this case, though?
First, let’s look for any of our favourite sources of positivity. Who out of your friends and acquaintances make you laugh, radiate an aura of well being and positivity? They’re the people to make sure you spend time with on Blue Monday.
Perhaps you have other sources of humour and positivity that you like to turn to when needed.
When socialising, be mindful not to use it as just another distraction, but rather as a means for meaningful connection with others.
When faced with Winter Blues, we can choose to succumb to our usual materialistic, unsustainable distractions, or we can choose any simple, sustainable ways to nourish our bodies and minds. In this way we can transform Winter Blues into Positive News.
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