The Winter Blues: 5 Strategies to Help Get Unstuck This Winter by Adora Winquist
Feeling down this winter? You are not alone. Winter depression facts include the sobering statistic that about 5 percent of American adults experience serious seasonal depression, while 10 to 20 percent experience a milder version called the winter blues.
Here are some strategies to help get unstuck when life gets you down:
1. Change Up Your Routine
Our human nature is highly adaptable and resilient. We also can have a tendency to become stuck in a rut of complacency. Identify two ways you can change up any day to day monotony to create new experiences and opportunities of engagement in your life. Drive a new way to work or to the grocery store. Learn a new skill, try a new hobby or even consider a new career path.
2. Optimize Your Brain Function
There are numerous ways that we can explore and optimize brain function. Sometimes referred to as rewiring or repatterning, modern day research on neuroplasticity indicates a far greater potential for new neural connections, networks and improved learning, memory and mood regulation. Innovations on rewiring patterns from past traumatic experience to new healthier emotional response and lifestyle habits are coming to the forefront of mainstream conversation. We collectively seek greater well-being and harmony in our physical health and mind-body connection.
With the expansion of neuroscience research, efforts have been made to examine the influence and efficacy of the ancient practice of aromatherapy. Due to the powerful connection between olfaction and the limbic system of the brain, which regulates much of our physiology, specifically mood, memory and emotion, when we inhale the right essential oils, we are able to affect the nervous system and regulate our emotional response. Using pure essential oils is gaining significant traction in the fields of mind-body health.
In regards to neuroplasticity, essential oils such as eucalyptus and lavender have been shown to lengthen attention spans and our capacity to recall. In conjunction with this discovery, it has been shown extensively that essential oils possess neuroprotective anti-aging properties, and have been cited by researchers as significantly reducing the effects or onset of dementia, epilepsy and anxiety (Ayaz, et al). The field of neuroscience is now becoming more holistic with the inclusion and study of lesser-used, but supremely effective alternative practices.
3. Take an Honest Inventory of Your Daily Habits
Are there any daily habits that do not serve you well? Take into account your exercise and diet. Do you consume excess sugar, fats, alcohol, caffeine or other substances? Also consider your practices of self-care and self-talk, and your emotional peaks and valleys. What healthier habit practices and positive outlook can you adopt? Negative influences in your life, whether it is toxic relationships or environmental conditions contribute to unhealthy choices. Pick two areas of your life and transform them by taking small and practical steps. Remember, new habits do not form overnight. New studies suggest it takes over two months to form automatic habits.
4. Cultivate a Practice of Gratitude
Focusing on thankfulness can quickly uplift our emotional outlook and transform from a sense of feeling stuck to one of liberation. Numerous studies reveal beneficial effects of gratitude on the brain, including an increase of “feel good” neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, that generate feelings of well-being. Create a simple daily practice. Upon waking, reflect on one thing you are grateful for – even the miracle of a new day! This creates positive energy to move through your day. Before you retire for the evening, identify one aspect of your day to be thankful for. Bring your day full circle.
5. Dream Your Desires Into Reality
Recent studies indicate that the brain does not differentiate between actual and imagined experience. What unrealized dreams do you have for yourself? Spend five minutes a day daydreaming those heartfelt desires. Put pen to paper and start to imagine yourself living those dreams in your everyday life. Do you have a desire for a healthier, more energized body? Deeper intimacy in your relationships? A companion to plan a life together? More money in the bank? You are filled with potential. Tap into your subconscious and dream your desires into reality.
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