October 29, 2021
As the seasons change and the days shorten, how do you find this impacts your energy levels or mood?
We are entering into a winter of some uncertainty and a challenging economic time for the country, so our coach Louise Otton has shared these tips to helps us take back control so that we can continue to flourish and thrive during the winter months!
1. Acceptance is key
Do you find yourself wishing for sunny days and dreaming of a beach, or thinking, “I’ll do that when the weather gets a bit better in the summer?”
If so, you are not alone!
However, we know from the field of positive psychology that if we change the way we think we can change the way we feel and behave for the better.
So, the first step towards a happy winter is to accept the fact that it is winter! We can’t control the weather or the seasons (or rising energy prices!) but we can change how we choose to react to them.
Take inspiration from our neighbours in Denmark and think about how you get some Hygge in your life. “Hygge,” pronounced “hoo-guh,” is a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing.” In English, we’d probably say cosy, so embrace it! (What is Hygge? - VisitDenmark)
Think about what you can do at home to make your home feel cosy – whatever that means for you -- lighter, warmer and more inviting. Hibernate, if you like and rest. Or instead you can nest and do things that make your environment more comfortable.
Rest doesn’t have to be passive; it can be something that brings a sense of achievement. Mindfully enjoy getting your winter clothes out, making heart-warming food, or completing those home DIY jobs you didn’t get to do over the summer. A slower pace for a few months can set you up for feeling restored and ready for the spring when it arrives.
Once you accept winter, lean into it, notice what winter brings that is positive, and then notice if it makes a difference to how you feel about it. If we accept this and understand that it is an opportunity to rest and restore, we can find things that complement this pace of life.
2. Get enough light
With less daylight available to our brains, we will naturally feel more tired as we are not getting exposure to melatonin and vitamin D, which are vital in regulating sleep, wakefulness and energy.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain and regulates our sleep cycle. It is produced in the dark and as winter is darker, we naturally produce more melatonin which can lead to more tiredness and fatigue. One way to combat this is to get outside during the daylight hours at least once a day and if that is not possible consider investing in a light box / sun lamp.
“A light therapy box mimics outdoor light. Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of seasonal affective disorder,”
Writes the Mayo Clinic.
If you’re interested in learning more, the Mayo Clinic more information here on this topic. Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light box - Mayo Clinic
3. Have a solid morning routine
Some of the most successful people swear by having a good morning routine which keeps them grounded, less stressed and more energised.
We are creatures of habit, and our brains thrive on knowing what’s coming next as it takes up less energy to not have to be consciously making lots of small decisions.
How can you use your morning to set you up for a great day?
Ok, so on a dark morning, getting up at 5am may be less appealing than in the summer, but have a think about what might work for you? What could you do to add a few extra minutes to your morning?
If you are not a gym goer that thrives on an early morning workout, can you set aside 5 mins to just stretch, take a bracing cold shower (it works: What are the Benefits of Cold Showers? | Wim Hof Method), do some breathwork, write some intentions for the day, or read something of interest to you that you want to learn?
4. Hang out with positive people
We can often find that we are pulled in many directions at this time of year with work, social events, Christmas, family commitments which can all become a drain on our energy. Have you noticed that some people make you feel great, while others leave you feeling sapped?
A useful tool that our coach Louise has taken us through recently has been to think about what kind of energy we get from different people in our lives and so we can spend more time with the ones who give us good positive energy.
You can try this short exercise for yourself:
Who are your engines?
Write down the names of all the people in your life that make you feel great! When you spend time with them you come away feeling energised, positive, excited, happy, grounded, supported and challenged. These people are your ‘engines’.
- Then think about how much time you spend with them. To feel great, you want to fuel that engine and speed off into the distance, James Bond style.
Spending more time with these people will leave you feeling energised.
Who are your anchors?
Write down all the names of all the people in your life who make you feel drained. We all have people like this in our lives and we can’t necessarily avoid them, but we can think about how to protect ourselves, especially around the holiday season as we often find anchors among family members.
These people can make you feel a bit flat, sad, dragged down, negative, exhausted, used. They are literally acting like an anchor and stopping you from getting where you need to go.
- How can you protect yourself and your energy levels when you start to feeling an anchor dragging you backwards?
- How can you set yourself up to give only as much time as you are prepared to give so you have more time for your engines?
Limiting time with these people will boost your energy levels.
Finally, think about what kind of connection you are to others. When are you an engine, or are you an anchor? How do you want others to be rating you!?