Monday, January 12, 2009
Lifting the Doldrums
School teachers know that the period between Christmas and Easter is a long-haul in the classroom. Weather is often cold, dreary, and breezy. Students get restless and teachers get tired. But, students aren't the only ones that experience the malaise that comes during these winter months. Mental health professionals report that depression and anxiety are often experienced during the time period right after Christmas. I know there are many professional solutions to this problem, and they are excellent. Sometimes common sense has solutions as well. Here's a folk-list of ways to cope with winter doldrums.
1. Experience light! Because some days the sun doesn't shine, other ways must be found to get the full-spectrum light that the body requires. Check out the light bulb section at a nearby store and look for bulbs that are advertised as "full spectrum light" bulbs. Replace the ordinary bulbs in your light fixtures with the full spectrum bulbs and enjoy a dose of sunshine in your home! They are available in both florescent and incandescent bulbs. You can also find grow lights in garden centers that offer bright "full spectrum" light. Sitting under a "full spectrum" light for 20 - 30 minutes as soon as you wake up in the morning will help start your day off right. It's a real mood lifter, as it stimulates hormones that promote happiness.
2. Eat nuts! Nuts and seeds contain Omega-3's, an essential nutrient for healthy and happy brain function. A handful of walnuts each day will help combat the winter blues. Additionally, freshly ground flax seed daily supplies a high dose of Omega-3's. A small coffee grinder does a great job of grinding them. Be aware that if not ground, these seeds may benefit the colon, but the Omega-3's will stay bound up inside the hard shell, therefore not giving you brain benefit.
3. Exercise! A daily walk does wonders for the spirit. Bundle up during your favorite time of day. Walking when during the peek of the day when the sun is shining gives double benefit, but don't discount the soothing effects of a "nighttime" walk. Walking by moonlight (in a safe neighborhood) is relaxing and a wonderful mood lifter.
4. Eat right! Resolve to eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. These are the core ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. Use the other foods to garnish and enhance, but not as the main ingredient in the foods you eat. Not only will eating this way life your mood, but it will make you feel lighter and brighter too.
5. Think of others! Getting your mind off yourself does wonders for mood enhancement. Deliberately do something nice for someone else every day. Visit a shut-in neighbor, offer to babysit for a young mother for an hour or two, or pitch in to help a friend with an overwhelming project. By being of service to someone else, you'll find that your mind is taken off yourself and your blue's.
6. Listen to music! Music is a great mood enhancer, especially certain types of music. Classical music has been shown to enhance mood because of it's rhythms, patterns, and cadences. Spend some time with Mozart, Bach, Brahms, or Beethoven each day.
7. Sip a cup of tea! Tea relaxes the muscles in the body that cause tension. And it signals to your body that it's time to kick back for a moment and enjoy being in the "now". Forget the troubles of the past and the worries of the future. Concentrate on "being" in the moment and enjoying the life you've been given. It seems there really is a reason why January was selected as National Hot Tea Month!