As I sit down to write this email it is the third Monday in January, commonly known as “Blue Monday” or the gloomiest day of the year.
There is really no science behind this term, however it is widely recognized that between the weather, not following through on a new year’s resolution and the holiday debt rolling in right about now, many people are struggling to find joy in their day.
I decided this would be a great time to discuss the ways that I intentionally boost my own mood. It's quite hard to be an effective therapist when your own mental health is shit. I really try hard to nurture mine, for the sake of my clients and my income.
No one is immune to being impacted by the cold and dark days this time of year. If you remember last week’s email, I introduced a concept called choice. You decide that you are in control of how you feel and you intentionally choose to make yourself a priority and provide yourself with what you need.
First things first, check your attitude; believe it is possible to get up every day, feel grateful for what you have, and know you are living a life with purpose in whatever that means to you. You are working on making yourself a little bit healthier and stronger for those around you every day.
Here are few things I do to keep my energy up and feel more positive and happy:
1) I bought a light indicated for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is different from the winter blues, it's prolonged low mood where your brain doesn’t release enough serotonin in the winter months when there is less sunlight. They sell these little lights reasonably priced at Costco. If you are a client of mine, you may recognize it as the little thing on my desk, blinding you during your sessions. I do feel it helps boost my mood, especially as my work environment isn’t very bright.
2) I take a vitamin D and vitamin B12 supplement every day for improved mood and an energy boost.
3) I intentionally spend time with people that make me laugh and provide unconditional support to my life. I make myself spend time with them even if I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT and would rather stay home alone and retreat. Connection with other people releases feel good hormones in your brain.
4) I do daily physical activity. There are lots of ways to do this inside even if you don’t belong to a gym. Take a walk at the indoor field-house or the Qplex. Grab your skates and hit up a rink or do a workout at home with the many free apps or demos on YouTube. There's no excuse to not move your body in whatever way you are able.
5) I think of taking care of myself like I would my children. I go to bed early if I’m exhausted, I make sure I’ve consumed enough water and food and I buy myself a little treat if I need it. This could be something small like a coffee or a new sweater. Treat yourself in whatever way your means allow and however makes you joyful. I am also very intentional about talking to myself kindly, like I would a child.
The bottom line is, if you check in with how you feel and then pay attention and honor what your needs are, you will be much happier and healthier, mentally and physically. You can’t keep telling yourself you are ok and tomorrow will be better if you do nothing different today.
Plus, when you are making efforts to feel happier, it works. In the words of Gretchen Rubin “Act the way you want to feel”.
CONSISTENTLY nurturing your mental health will pay off in how you feel about your life and present circumstance every morning when that alarm goes off each day.