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Staying Centered

Through the Long Cold Winter: 3 Easy Steps to Raise Your Vibration



You don't have to have Seasonal Affective Disorder to feel and experience lower energy and drive in the winter.


The latest estimate I came across said around 10 million Americans experience SAD with the greatest number of said cases occurring during winter. It's not difficult to imagine why. I think it's true for many of us, even without a diagnoses of SAD, that we experience lower drive and energy in the winter for obvious reasons:

  • Shorter days

  • Longer nights

  • Colder temps

  • All which lead to lower physical and therefore many times mental stimuli

While I'm about the farthest thing from a medical practitioner and therefore would never give out medical advice, I can tell you that I've dealt with such emotional downs and that I have found a rather highly effective regimen that works for me.


Interested? Read on...


Everyone is different and experiences life in their own way. I'm sure there are some out there that get absolutely amped in the winter....counter to the way most people I know experience it. Don't get me wrong, I love snowboarding...I love fishing in the snow.. but I admit that the above bullet list can affect how I feel. And here's what I do about it:


The Big "Secret"


1. The First Step:


The big secret, I've found, is a three part list. the First step to feeling better in winter....and really in all aspects of life is (drum roll.....) understanding INTENTIONALITY. Some references deny that this is an actual word, others confirm its existence. For our sake, it's as real as anything else. Also, intentionality isn't just the first step... really it's the overall theme that even permeates the second and third ideas discussed later.


Too often we get caught up in life and "what's happening to us." In my experience (including experience with depression, medication, deciding that medication wasn't the answer for me, trial, error, and then my somewhat recent ...6 year or so...investigation into understanding the mind and how it works for and against us), reactive thinking and reactive action in life are the antithesis of mindfulness, happiness, and even prosperity.


Plan Plan Plan. The easiest way to be intentional is to plan. Don't just react to what needs done. Plan it. Feel an intentionality around it. Around everything you do. Yes, things will pop up...unplanned things. But your attention and intention are pivotal here. Acknowledge. Adjust. Plan again. You can either dictate your life or react to "what happens to you." The choice is yours really.


2. CHOOSE Activity


Cold weather and more darkness means that so many of us will let the "feeling" of winter take over. Remembering step 1, we must take that a step further. Choose activity. Don't wait to fill in your calendar when you "have time." Do your weekly planning on Sunday. Schedule your month. Add in activity: physical activity...mental activity. These are just as important (and if you hold your personal health in high esteem....often more important) as the work you need to finish or the garage than needs cleaned.



Everyone needs physical activity. Choose the gym. Same time every day. Or choose your run. Same time every day. Choose fishing. Choose skiing. Choose hiking or snowshoeing or skating or the pickup hockey game or pickup basketball game.... hell just choose to walk on a treadmill or do early laps around the mall if you feel that. Just choose them, choose the time. Schedule it in and keep that promise to yourself. Have integrity. Keep your word. For most of us, it's important to keep our word to others but it's easy for us to break promises to ourselves. Choose self integrity and make it a habit. I literally CHOOSE a day of fishing every week...on a weekday...because I can and prefer. I choose it because it is an integral part of my survival. I choose it because it is a practice in mindfulness...it's a detachment from the "chatter" and a purposeful connection to mother earth. It is, for me, a literal physical and mental exercise.


Choose mental activity. Choose puzzles, choose cooking classes or painting classes or learning how to create something...quilts or photos or poetry. Doesn't matter. Choosing an activity that speaks to you and keeping your word to yourself does. Choose social time...choose dinner with friends, dates with your partner, choose watching a favorite program with your loved ones if you wish...but CHOOSE it. Don't default to it. Don't flip on the TV because there's nothing else to do. Be intentional.


3. Routines


Our individuality cries out for freedom from restraint but our minds crave routine and stability. Positive, helpful routines take the guesswork out of the everyday...they save metal and physical energy. Some people do better work late at night, some better in the morning. Night owls and early birds alike should, in my experience, strive to keep a consistent schedule to help the body and mind feel better aligned and not chaotic. A gym/workout routine...same time every day...is very important to my physical AND mental health. Knowing when and how I am going to workout takes the mental stress and unnecessary energy of deciding out of the equation. It's already decided.



Perhaps my most important routine is this:


I would argue that my morning routine is perhaps the most important part of my day. Here is my routine:


  • Wake at the same time every day...before the sun rises so that I can open the blinds and gather the first rays of the day. There is something so powerful and profound about watching the world wake up and maximizing the amount of daylight you experience during winter can really be a big bonus.

  • Greet the morning with a happy greeting...set a positive intention

  • Bathroom...because why lie?

  • Put on the headphones and turn on some binural beats that match my intention for the day...Healing, third-eye, thankfulness, balancing, brain power....depends on the intention for the day. No words, no lyrics. This is not the time for chatter.

  • Stretch...limber up. Get the blood flowing.

  • Yoga...same as above but a dose of mindfulness mixed in.

  • Meditation...quiet the mind. Stop your brain from constantly chattering. It's a practice and it will serve you outside of just your morning routine.

  • Journal...positive writing. Intentions. Things you are thankful for. Affirmations. Rarely do I write about problems and if i do it's to acknowledge and move on. Staying stuck in a story about a problem doesn't help anything.

  • Coffee...because yum.

  • (Optional because I set up posts automatically with an app) Check to make sure social posts are ready on my BUSINESS ACCOUNTS ONLY...takes three minutes max.

  • Head to the gym...same time. Every day. Unless I'm skiing for fishing.

  • Stay quiet. I don't talk at all during my morning routine. There's plenty of time for the "chatter" of life later. For me, this is not that time. This is a sacred time.

Sounds like a lot?! It's not. This whole list takes me about an 45 min to an hour (not including gym time of course). It's not a lot to ask and it is an absolute necessity to me...to set the intention of the day...to dictate the day on my terms and not to just react to life. Oh...I also make my bed too....often with my wife. If you don't make your bed in the morning....well....you're missing out on one of the earliest and easiest wins of your day every day.



You don't have to start a list like this every morning...especially if you don't have a routine at all. If you don't have a routine, start one. Pick one or two things to do...repeat them until they are habit. Add something else. Repeat until you have a routine that makes you feel like you're on top of your day from the beginning. *I highly suggest staying away from TV as part of your morning routine! There's plenty of time for "chatter" the rest of the day. I could go on and on about "news" and "staying informed" but we'll wait for another time. Trust me...you can go without "being informed" every morning. Check your weather app one time the night before or once in the morning and then forget about it. Dress accordingly...be prepared...but it's weather and it often changes anyway. Especially in the places I have lived.


Well, something that started as a short list has carried on and on again. Thank you for your time and I hope this helps....in winter and beyond.


Cheers,


-Nic







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