The colder, shorter days and the inclement weather can feel heavy and cause our spirits to sag. Old, unhealthy habits can re-emerge and inspiration may feel very far away. What is a body to do?
- Stop isolating! Yes, some down time is absolutely necessary. Everyone needs time to reflect and to regroup; however, if you find yourself spending most of your time alone AND this alone time feels like an oppressive blanket, then it is time to reconnect. Invite a friend to go somewhere. Find a local hiking or sports club. Plan a get-together. Take a community class. Whatever you choose, get out of the house and interact with others. Humans are social creatures, even the introverts. We all need, in varying amounts, time with each other.
- Change it up! It is easy, especially in winter, to get stuck in a rut. You may feel you don’t have the energy to try something new. This feeling is caused by inertia: a state of rest or uniform motion unless changed by external force. We humans tend to feel lethargy when we are static. Our habits can contribute to this inertia. Have you noticed your habits? Do you tend to sit in the same seat at the dinner table or in the classroom? Do you tend to drive the same routes, engage in the same evening activities and do the same workout every week? If so, consider changing things up. As any professional athlete will tell you, they saw a spike in their performance when they began to cross-train and integrate new activities into their regimen. The same is true in other areas of our life. When we change things up, when we are willing to explore other options, we optimize growth and get out of our rut. What is one thing you are willing to change right now?
- Retrain your brain! Just like our physical body can get stuck in a rut, so too, can our mental body. When we keep having the same thought over and over again, we create a strong neural pathway that acts like a groove in a vinyl record. In order to jump that groove, we have to actively retrain our brain. This retraining requires practice and is expedited by learning mindfulness techniques to “trick” the brain into a new pattern. There are books and videos which teach such mindfulness strategies. I recommend Rick Hanson’s Buddha’s Brain and Gay Hendrick’s The Big Leap to start.
If you are looking for a way to combine all three of the above mentioned strategies, then consider registering for the upcoming Brain Change: Using Mindfulness and Movement to Build Resilience class which starts on March 5. During this 6-week class, you will have opportunities to compensate for your innate negativity bias, to mitigate unpleasant emotions, to cultivate more compassion and empathy and to nurture more positive human connections. Plus you get to spend time in the company of other wonderful humans who are invested in changing things up too.