As the shortened days and falling temperatures have led you to believe, yes, winter is coming. Unless we live in fun and sun year-round, winters may seem like a dark cold blanket that won't let us escape. We need to work extra hard to take care of ourselves - in all facets - in order to keep ourselves fit and limber (this practice applies to everyone and are definitely tips I use myself). But if we do find ourselves in a funk or in a time of mild crisis, here are some quick tips to get back on track. If you are feeling you need a bit more than this and would like to talk with someone, don’t be shy about reaching out to someone (like me). Otherwise, take a deep breath and read on for your Overall Health Maintenance Plan this winter.
MENTAL MAINTENANCE … in six easy steps
Here are some tips to re-energize yourself this winter.
- Get out of your Head
When we get down on ourselves we tend to become self-absorbed. We feel trapped inside the front of our skulls, mired in a sea of darkness. How do we find our way out? Start by opening your eyes wide. Zoom out. Look at what’s around you: the walls, floor, ceiling. Your hands, knees, feet. You are a living breathing miracle, existing in a space in this world. You are MAGIC.
- Realize you are not Alone
You are not the only fish in this sea. You have friends and family near and far. You are interconnected with other living things in this shared experience called life. FEEL THE LOVE.
- Release the Weight of the World from your Shoulders
You have not been put on this earth to solve the worlds problems. You are merely one cog in the machine. Feel good about your role in that, BUT realize that you can only do what you can do at this moment. You are not a comic book superhero. You can only do good things when you let yourself be the best you.
- Control what you can Control
You can not control what your office mate says about you, what your best friend from high school is saying on Facebook, how the project you've been slaving away at will turn out even with every sweat and tear. BUT you can control yourself: how you perceive and react to the world around you. Release that control and think about yourself — everyone else will take came of themselves, promise.
- Give your Unique Qualities to the World
Write. Draw. Take photos or videos. Make a website. Write a project. EXPRESS YOURSELF. Do what you need to do to let the world realize your presence. Contribute to the collective effort. Give good energy. Feel good about what you are giving.
- Feel better? Good. Now DON’T STOP.
When you begin to feel good about yourself you need to keep the ball rolling. Now is not the time to spend the next hour watching cat videos on YouTube (I know, there are tons of super good videos of cats, and some say that most of them are necessary). Now IS the time to keep your eyes and ears and mind open to experience the world and actively contribute to it.
PHYSICAL MAINTENANCE in one easy step (repeated at least 3x/week)
Physical activity helps our bodies AND our brains get moving, and allows our minds to process things at a much faster rate than when we’re sitting around. How do we know this? Science says so. Our friend Science also says that 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (jogging, running, biking, swimming) is all we need to keep our health and our mood elevated. That’s only three 25-minute workouts per week. EASY. Of course if you live somewhere where it’s hard to even find a good road to run on, let alone having access to a good bike or *gasp* a luxury indoor swimming pool. And THE COLD. Yes, it will be cold outside and facing it can be a chore, but think about what your body and your brain NEED; a sedentary lifestyle leads to a sedentary mind and body, withering on the vine. You too can bloom in winter like an exquisite Jelena Witchhazel or Leatherleaf Mahonia (no I am not a botanist and yes I had to look that up).
Don’t like running or jogging? Brisk walking will do the trick, as five half-hour walks per week (150 minutes total per week) will get you the same benefit. Can’t find the time? Dance in your room, do yoga from YouTube videos. ANY physical activity is better than none. Just remember to start slow to give your body time to warm up to the chilly world outside.
On top of this plan, please remember to not be too hard on yourself. Life is hard and you’re fighting the good fight. And keep a sense of humor because life is funny - laugh away and enjoy it!