The holiday season is approaching! And many of us love it but some of us truly hate it. For many of us, this time is a signal for our bodies to turn inward, slow down, and hibernate because the holidays mean dark, cold, lonely days. No matter which camp you are in, try one (or all) of these 13 things to boost your spirits this holiday season.
- Accept your feelings about winter coming
- Make a pros and cons list
- Take stock of your Pros & Cons list
- Make a plan to tackle dark days and loneliness now
- Get moving
- Find some beach-oriented guided meditations
- Get a new blanket (try a weighted one), sweater, bathrobe, slippers, hat, or scarf
- Take a look at your diet
- Connect with friends and family now
- Look around your community for options that interest you
- Take up a new hobby
- Take stock of your thoughts
- Commit to yourself!
1. Accept your feelings about the holidays Season coming
Acceptance of our current predicament allows us space for choice about it, no matter what it is, even if I hate my current predicament. By accepting where we are we will get out of it a lot faster. Acceptance doesn’t mean you agree, condone, or want the current reality. All it means is you acknowledge this is what is truly going on in this moment. Setting yourself up for success when trying to boost your spirits this holiday season.
2. Make a pros and cons list
What do you like about the season?
What do not like about the season?
From here you can build up things you like and work with what you do not like.
3. Take stock of your Pros & Cons list
What can you use from the above list to help you? Even if you have nothing good to say about winter, we can reframe what you wrote.
Being trapped inside can become: trying new indoor spaces, time to rearrange your furniture, or making small steps to get outside a little bit at a time.
4. Make a plan to tackle dark days and loneliness now
Find out what local organizations offer for connection and outings during the winter. As you collect these items, put them on your calendar so you have things to look forward to moving into winter AND commit to going to them no matter what.
5. Get moving
As an exercise scientist who turned psychologist, I am amazed at how many people do not use their bodies to treat their moods. You were born into a body to move it. When we don’t move, our energy gets low and we tend to try using calories to increase it. Hello weight gain – see #8 below.
Instead, move. I don’t care if your pushups are against the wall and your squats land you on the couch, just start moving. This is another great place to try a new activity in the winter – check out the Rec center in your area – being in a warm pool is pretty nice when it’s snowing outside and can almost instantly boost your spirits.
6. Find some beach-oriented guided meditations
For those of you longing for a cabin getaway – you don’t have to spend a dime. Take a mental vacation. The power of the mind is great.
Just think about a succulent, bright yellow, juicy, aromatic, zesty, lemon.
How many of you salivated?
Do not underestimate your mind’s ability to transport you and create a different experience once you decide to focus. Next blizzard, cozy up, plug your earphones in, close your eyes and take a 20-minute beach vacation in the comfort of your own home.
7. Get a new blanket (try a weighted one), sweater, bathrobe, slippers, hat, or scarf
If you’re like me, you get cold easily, and being cold is not fun. If it’s cold you hate, make sure you have gear. I’m known for wearing long johns and hats in my house all winter long. Make sure you have items so you can be cozy and warm. Layer it up. Get a fake fire app on your phone, TV, or computer if you don’t have the option for a fireplace in your home.
Why you ask? See #6 above … fake fire or not, you’ll be surprised at your mind’s abilities to create an experience for you if you let it. >> Get your Studio B Warm Weather Gear today!
8. Take a look at your diet
Many of us do not eat for mental health. We eat foods that actually leave us feeling depleted, low in energy and overall SAD (standard American diet). Eating for mental health includes eating a variety of foods, especially leafy greens. This gives the body the base nutrients it needs to start making the neurotransmitters you need to enjoy contentment, joy, pleasure, and ease.
- Evaluate your diet now, get to the farmers market and see what folks have preserved that you can take home and enjoy all winter long.
- Get with a nutritionist to review your diet and make sure you are getting what you need. In the winter we tend to want heavier foods.
- Look through cookbooks and find some items that look appealing to you and commit to making a new recipe every week or so.
The above helps you be proactive and plan for things you are looking forward to. If you don’t like to cook, enlist someone to do it for you, take a class, or find a few local restaurants to sample over the season.
9. Connect with friends and family now
Let them know winter is hard for you and you need some extra support getting and staying in touch during the long dark days. Set up reoccurring dates: game nights, lunch, and movie time. See #4 to remind yourself why you want to start scheduling now.
Some of you are asking what to do if you do not have family or friends to connect, see #10.
10. Look around your community for options that interest you
Look around your community for options that interest you, even if you don’t know anyone yet, which I know is hard. Some of you may need to take one of the below additional steps:
- Get into therapy
- Join a group around a task or activity you think you might like
- Reach out to an online community *Cough * Cough >> Studio B
Be open to trying and give it a real shot. Many give new groups one or two times and quit because it’s uncomfortable. It will be uncomfortable at first. I do not mean to be flippant about the difficulties that surround finding and making friends, however, we have to start somewhere.
Although many of us feel alone, if we are willing to be gentle with ourselves and open to trying new things we can make some sort of connection to help hold us through. Some of us need to be kind to ourselves and others. Work to have compassion for the humanness in all. People will say things you don’t like, do things you may think are weird, and may struggle to connect with you the same way you struggle to connect with them. Give them a break, remember you are there to connect and ask yourself how can you show up to support this person?
When you shift the focus from yourself you’ll be surprised at how different your experience is. Again, it may be time for some therapy if you are overwhelmed and confused by this concept. If people aren’t your thing look into volunteering with animals.
11. Take up a new hobby
Find something that’s healthy for you and commit to learning. Get curious and stay open, even if it’s a bit difficult or boring at first. By staying curious you access your pre-frontal cortex, this part of you, helps you stay in the moment, judge, plan, and respond rather than react.
By committing and giving it a real shot, you teach yourself about perseverance and grit. When you have grit you increase confidence. When you increase confidence in yourself, things get a little brighter.
12. Take stock of your thoughts
Do not underestimate your ability to change your mind and impact your environment.
Remember that lemon? Did you salivate again? If lemons don’t do it for you, how about a crunchy pickle?
You can hate winter all you want, but the more you tell yourself you hate it, the more you will. If moving to “I love winter” is too much just go neutral in your comments “it is winter” without the heavy judgment and anger that accompanies hate and dislike. Move away from the emotional content of your statements and just be objective about your situation.
So many of us remain trapped in the prison of our minds (about all sorts of things) because we refuse to give up our story about it. We refuse to look at it from a different perspective and change our mind about it. Doesn’t mean you have to like it, agree with it, or want it, just means you have to accept it as it is, see #1. Acceptance gives you power back. Acceptance allows you to truly examine and decide what you want to do about it.
The hard part of changing your mind…
You have to be the one to do the work and be uncomfortable. No one can fix the way you think about things for you.
You have to do the work.
13. Commit to yourself!
No one else can fix this for you. Living in Colorado I know we cannot, not, have winter at your house. By being proactive and putting a few things in place ahead of time you can have a different experience this winter. By noticing the way you talk to yourself and if you set yourself up to learn how to shift your focus and manipulate your perception of your environment you stand a better chance at tolerating what you don’t like.
And then winter be damned … it becomes spring.
Thank you for taking the first step in your journey to shift your mindsets about the upcoming months and
boost your spirits this holiday season
Learn more and reach out!
And as always, if you are struggling to engage fully in your life and would like to see how psychology might be able to help you contact me today!