“I still catch myself feeling blue about things that don’t matter anymore.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Winter brings darkness into our lives as we rise before the sun and return from our offices to our darkened houses. The winter darkness plus worry about the world's challenges meet our daily struggles to deplete us of our energy and optimism.
This is the time of year that many people suffer from the "blues". There are real physiological and biological reasons for this dip in our energy. Light and darkness are thought to affect mood and behavior via the complex interaction between circadian rhythms and the biological clocks which control them. This is nature's way of telling us to "hibernate" even though most of us are unable to do so given our busy lives.
What are the blues?
No matter how optimistic you are or how happy your life is, everyone experiences “the blues.” You may recognize the symptoms in yourself or others – feeling sad, losing self-confidence, physical fatigue, lack of focus, wanting to be by yourself, a feeling of inertia, and perhaps even feeling pessimism.
I’m not talking about the blues where one feels these things for months on end. That’s depression and it’s a serious clinical matter. I’m referring to the occasional day or few days when you’re just not motivated and feeling a bit sad but you don’t know why.
Sometimes the blues are brought on by an unexpected and difficult event. You didn’t land the contract you wanted, your best friend hurt your feelings, a series of mistakes have you doubt your abilities or the state of the world has created a sense of hopelessness.
Sometimes the blues are just a pause in your life. These pauses are actually an invitation to become more reflective about what matters most to you, or the change to evaluate your life or relationships.
If the blues are lasting for more than a few days, here are some things you can do to bring sunshine back into your day and your heart.
Ten Ways to Beat the Blues
Acknowledge your feelings.
The first step is becoming aware of what you are feeling without the need to push it away. You may find that by staying in the discomfort of the blues you may make a breakthrough in some part of your life.
Feed your soul.
This is an opportunity to take care of yourself emotionally and spiritually. Read poetry. Poetry evokes a sense of the sublime and offers a deeper perspective on life. It soothes the soul. Paint or write. Look for inspiring stories in the world. These are all things that bring calm and gratitude into your heart space.
Music is another way of soothing the soul. Moving your body to the rhythm of music creates a sense of expansion and lightness in your being. When we are feeling blue we are also feeling isolated and fragmented. Music and any art form takes us to another level in our being and brings a sense of wholeness during a time when you feel disconnected from yourself and others.
Pay attention to your body.
Most certainly the blues can be a physiological response to a change in your hormone levels, a vitamin deficiency, a response to stress or an indicator that something is not right with your body. Listen to your body. Maybe what you really need is a few good nights sleep. Or perhaps a yoga session or returning to your exercise routine will change the chemical balance in your body to shift you back to your optimistic self.
Nature is the ultimate healer. Get some fresh air especially if you’ve been working indoors in artificial lighting and stale air. Even in winter, bundle up and go play in the snow for a while and get the sun on your face and fresh air in your lungs.
Serve someone else.
There is nothing like taking care of someone else to make you feel useful and valued. Serving someone else takes the focus of you and puts your attention on the needs of someone else. Service is not only good for the receiver but even more fulfilling for the giver. Volunteer. Teach a class at the elementary school. Help someone in your neighborhood that may be having a difficult time.
Shut off the TV and computer.
The amount of toxicity in today’s programs and news is overwhelming. Even if you think the TV is in the background you are energetically are receiving this negativity and it is affecting you. Instead, spend some time with yourself after dinner, writing or reading a good book, going for a long walk or engage in conversation with your family or friends. You reconnect to yourself and others and remove the digital garbage that is being spewed at you all day long.
Get some sunshine.
The winter months in New England and on the East Coast are long – and dark. You rise and it’s still dark and when you leave your office, it’s dark also. We need the sun to produce Vitamin D which is especially important for women to prevent osteoporosis and SADD. Get out into the sunlight. It boosts your Vitamin D and your spirits.
End each day with a gratitude practice.
We experience the blues when we focus on the negative events of our lives. By focusing on what’s good and positive you gain perspective remembering that this too shall pass and that overall life is good. Each evening write something you are grateful for in your journal and when you feel blue return to the journal reading through the pages and reminding yourself of your blessings.
Do something special for yourself.
When you are so busy with your life you neglect the most important person in your life – you. This builds resentment. Do something nice for yourself. It could be simple like taking the time to cook yourself a special meal or try out a new recipe. Maybe there is a class you’d like to attend or a movie you’d like to see. Perhaps calling an old friend who you have been out of touch with has been on your mind. Go get a massage or a facial. There are many things you could do that don’t cost much money or take too much time but represent a way for you to take care of yourself.
The blues are part of life . Not every day can be wonderful. Despite the discomfort there is always something to learn from allowing a pause in your life to reflect and renew. These simple ten practices will ensure that you make the most of a time when you are being called to reflect on your life and renew your energy.
If something is getting in the way of feeling more vital, effective and productive, let me know. Click Here to schedule a complimentary conversation to determine if coaching is right for you now.