06 February 2015

3 Practices to Beat the Winter Blues

Longing for Spring (PART II of II) 

As mentioned in last week’s post, for many of us, winter can be a difficult season—short, frigid days and dry, long nights, causing a sense of lethargy or worse, depression.

The winter blues can be a subtle nagging experience that lingers for weeks.

Following are a few practices that I’ve found helpful for keeping winter blues at bay.

Please note. The mild “blues” is one thing, but anxiety and depression are very serious medical conditions. If you experience signs of depression it’s crucial to consult a doctor for diagnosis and recommended treatment. But if you are generally emotionally stable and find that the winter blues are just bringing you mildly down, you might consider the following supplements.

  1. Meditation

Ahh…so here’s something you can try without consulting with your doctor first. This is my personal favorite practice for staying grounded and centered and connected to my inner vitality.

Meditation is a harmless practice that sages from virtually all religious traditions throughout the centuries have promoted. Now-a-days, because of all the research demonstrating the benefits of meditation, some schools and corporations are teaching a simple meditation practiced like mindfulness to their students and employees, respectively.

Over time, meditation helps you realize that 1) You are not your thoughts. And 2) You are not your feelings.

YOU are deeper, wider and more expansive. Thoughts and feelings come and go like the passing wind. Ever notice how in one moment you can feel great about yourself and think life is perfect and the next moment you’ve never felt uglier and it seems as if nothing in life is going your way?

The mind, has a mind of its own that incorporates lots and lots of passing thoughts and feelings. The key to staying grounded in your true self, your essence is to learn how to have a different relationship with your thoughts and feelings

Meditation or a contemplative prayer practice like Centering Prayer, achieves that for you. Over time, as you commit to regular practice, you establish some distance between your truest, most radiant self and your fluctuating thoughts. This is the process of moving from what the sages call, attachment to detachment.

So, determine to meditate or practice contemplative prayer. Start with 5 or 10 minutes a day and work up to a minimum of 20 minutes, two times a day. Be patient with yourself. And give yourself grace. Some days it will be easier to practice than others.

And then consider taking time periodically for an extended retreat where you can devote more time to contemplative practice or meditation. And if being with a supportive group of people for such a thing is helpful to you, consider joining us at Gravity for one of our annual retreats.

  1. Yoga

To add to the emotional challenges of winter, in the ancient Ayurvedic system of health and vitality, the winter months are governed by Vata (air and space)—which means the Vata dosha in us is more likely go out of balance during the cold season.

An out-of-balance Vata dosha causes in part dry sinues and runny noses, making it hard to combat colds and flus. When Vata goes out of balance, it drives the other two doshas (Pitta and Kapha) out-of-balance, leading to early on-set of disease. It’s essential to keep Vata in balance.

Yoga helps keep Vata balanced and moods stable. A regular practice is incredibly beneficial for overall well-being. The key is to find a teacher and class that suits you.

If you’re new to yoga, don’t settle for the first class or teacher you try. There’s virtually a class and teacher for every kind of person! There are so many different styles of yoga. So, do a little research, try a few different classes and find one that suits you. To find three of my favorite yoga studios in Omaha, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

  1. Nature Walk

As long as the temperatures aren’t below freezing, I enjoy bundling up and going for a walk at a nearby lake. I’ve found it really grounding to get my body moving and connected with nature. Revisiting the same outdoor nature spot helps me notice the changing seasons and appreciate winter for its invitation to slow down, regenerate and rest.

I’ve learned the hard way that my body needs me to honor the seasonal cycles. Communing with nature in the winter helps me take better care of myself, keeping me from over-extending. I give myself permission to produce less and take more rest. Knowing that spring and summer will come and with those seasons, more daylight, more energy and more activity.

So bundle up and take a morning walk or one during your lunch hour. You might even want to invite a friend along. The company can do wonders for improving your mental and emotional outlook.

What other practices have you found helpful to combat the winter blues?


*photo credit: ttronslien at morguefile.com