Happy Monday to you! Well it's getting to that winter time in the Southern Hemisphere where it all starts to get pretty INTERNAL and we can take example from all of you our Northern Hemisphere friends on how to stay inspired and active over our cooler months. So inspired by the recent drop in temperature and the desire to help keep my and your motivation at a high this winter, here's a few reminders of things we can do to improve our mood and maintain our motivation over the winter months and beyond, plus a few thoughts on why they're effective. Which might you incorporate to help with your motivational mojo this week and beyond???
1. Rise with the light
Sleep with the curtains or blinds in such a way that the natural light comes in in the morning and you, in your natural circadian rhythmic fashion, will wake with it. When you do, rather than leaping out of bed, why not take a moment to take stock of the insights you've awoken with and how they relate to the day to come? Then leap out of bed. Particularly in winter, though it's important to add some movement to get you warm and your metabolism ON for the day and maybe pre-warm your space if you can before you fully emerge from the covers. Whatever it takes to entice you out of the sleepy cocoon of the night and early morning that was and into your soulful service to the world and your passion.
2. Rehydration- keep drinking plenty of pure filtered water
Sometimes we need a little reminder, ok it's getting cold now, but you still need lots of water, to help your body cleanse and run at it's best and stay out of stress. Especially when you're inside with the heater drying out the air all day long. Every time you breathe out, you're breathing out your body's water content in tiny drops, which the heater is artificially drying out of the air. Remember, you've got to put it back in. In winter, especially at the start of the day, instead of substituting water for tea, keep having your water with a little freshly squeezed lemon in it, just add some hot water so that the first thing you take in is warm water and it kickstarts your digestion, wether before or after your morning meditation. Because the brain in over 85% water, it's also shown to help improve our mood. And if you talk to any of my friends who are into Zazen or Kangen water, they'll tell you hundreds of benefits of alkaline, pure water.
3.Align, Meditate, Appreciate
Starting the day on the right foot. Despite all the hardcore get up at 5am if you're a REAL entrepreneur (or perhaps to avoid the army of little people for just an extra hour or 2 actually, if you're a parent) talk, we all know how cozy it is spending just a little extra time in the warm cocoon of comfort on a South East Australian morning at the risk of then having to fly out of bed in a mad rush, already feeling behind the 8 ball. Now more than ever though, with the extra time indoors, its even more important though to make time for a morning meditation practice to cleanse, ground and align your energy for the day, start the day on the right foot by taking stock of all one has to be grateful for and to ask for any insights relative to how one can best lovingly and abundantly be of service that day, plus get any other insights relevant to that day. There's a great version of this that we do in my 30 Days to a Life I Love Program (next upcoming on the 10th July) that is just perfect for this and will be perfect for over the winter months too, to help us maintain our inspiration and love of life well above the seasonal status quo.
4. Do exercise you love
It's easy to drop this one when it starts to get cold....because its' cold and you don't want to be outdoorsy. But don't. Take over the gym, or a local yoga class, or your lounge room with impromptu streamed yoga classes from Gaia, double your resolve to go to that evening or weekend dance class, or do what i do and dance up the lounge room. Or embrace the cold, rug up and run, or ski, snowboard, toboggan your way through the snow season. Dare I say it, if you can, make some extra time to create and enjoy and intimate life! Whatever floats your boat, just make sure you keep your body moving, and those happy neurotransmitters pumping, as the temperature drops. As someone who's recovered from depression, I tells you, this surrendering to the SAD's business is a CHOICE, not an inevitability, and exercise is one of our greatest allies in aligning our bodies for a happy, inspired winter and a flowy, productive work day.
5. Choose Music You Love
What can you add to your playlist which will help you elevate your mood over the winter months? There is a definite correlation between what we choose to listen to over winter and experiencing the winter SAD's. Basically it works like this, the song lyrics we repeatedly listen to can influence our brains in a similar fashion to the chains of thoughts we choose to tell ourselves. So it's worth giving some thought to how we want to use language to influence and motivate us? What lyrics will support you to be more of what you want to be and feel more of how you want to feel over winter? More than that, certain musical combinations of tones e.g. melodies or harmonies moving in a descending direction induce sadness, whereas ones moving in an ascending direction open our hearts and lift our mood. Certain frequencies of sound too harmonise too our energy, whereas others disrupt it. With that in mind, are their any changes you can make to what you're listening to throughout the day? What music and what lyrics will inspire, motivate and uplift your morning moods right now?
6. Inspired Service
Continuing to do any combination of the before mentioned in your morning makes the move into work for the day over winter easy, because you're already aligned with what you're here to do that day and feeling inspired to move, or rather flow, straight into your way of being of service to the world. There's certainty and clarity around it. Now you just need to get in contact with the world and do your best to get it done. And take stock of the little progressions, as well as big goals your ticking on the way.
7. Human Connection
We know it, but hundred of studies also back it up, while it's tempting to stay in and become more internal over the winter months, regularly connecting with people we care about, wether friends, family, partners, our like-minded tribe of work or social peers we know helps our happiness levels and combat depression, as well as aid our fulfilment and success in our work. So make sure you keep making time in your busy routine to get out there and be social over the winter months, and schedule in more skypes and facetimes and phone calls with the people who love and bring out the best in you and vice versa. Not to mention some time for some (oxytocin inducing) heart hugs, with whoever, amongst the peoples and the creatures of this beautiful planet makes your heart sing ;-)
8. Omega 3
Research has shown us that Omega 3 is highly effective in the alleviation of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Depressed, anxious brains are inflamed brains. And Omega 3 has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on brain tissue and therefore has been show to be highly effective in the alleviation of symptoms of depression and anxiety sufferers. Thus it makes sense that, if a combination of changing lifestyle factors leads to seasonal depression over winter, then it makes sense to up our Omega 3 intake over winter to help you with the happies.
9. Vitamin C
In addition to its well known other health benefits, vitamin C also has a role to play in reducing our stress and anxiety. Research on people suffering depression and anxiety has shown us too that one of the things they often have in common is a below average vitamin C intake. Vitamin has now been shown to be an important factor in the management of stress and its eventual progression into depression. Here's how. Where someone has a high concentration of vitamin C in their system, they have been shown to cope better with stress by way of vitamin C lowering the cortisol induced fight flight reaction. Among other effects, frequent exposure to high levels of stress hormones like cortisol exhausts the bodies physical resources, impairs learning and memory, and makes people susceptible to depression. In studies in which participants were asked to undertake stressful tasks, like public speaking, the participants given 1000mg Vitamin C all reported coping better and more than that, those who didn't get the vitamin C all had elevated levels of the cortisol in their blood and higher blood pressure than those who got the vitamin C supplement. Vitamin C is also a co-factor in the production of the happiness-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin, along with the amino acid tryptophan. So if you haven't already, it could be worth checking in with your naturopath or nutritionist about what you can safely add into your diet to get more of both.
10. Soak up the winter sunshine.
Yes i know it's cold now. But we still need nature, bright light and fresh air and what vitamin D you can synthesise from the sunshine that remains. So make sure you rug up and get out there and do it anyway...embrace the invigoration. Go enjoy it tiger. It reminds us that we're ALIVE!
11. Laughs & Fun
Don't let the winter blues win, or the quality of whatever you're watching this winter dictate your mood and add to the SAD's. Where can you squeeze some extra laughs and fun into your every day routine AND the weekends?
12. Eat Healthy & Be Sugar Free
While winter food is wonderful, in reality we cook a lot of it to within an inch and beyond of it's goodness and as we wake up more to our own energetic nature, eating the traditional hearty stodge alone somehow just doesn't cut it when it comes to maintaining your optimal energy over winter. We need the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals of raw foods, but we need the higher vibration of it too. How can you prepare veggies, herbs and fruit in such a way that they STILL contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals? How can you maintain some raw and realness in your winter diet? There's a good question for your friendly neighbourhood naturopath or nutritionist.
More than that, remember to watch your sugar intake. It's so easy in winter to compensate for the lack of external activity and the decline of sunshine with added eating sugar eating or alcohol consuming (still sugar) activity, it's trading one source of neurotransmitters and endorphins for one with a much worse come-down. Everybody loves a good hot winter dessert every now and then, just make sure it doesn't become a lasting habit of compensating for the SAD's and a deficiency of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, with a short-lived sugar high. How can you keep your life full of other forms of stimulation, like the ones above, at this time of year?
13. Rest properly
It's soooo easy in the nice warm lounge, with a cold bedroom and bed on ones mind to fall asleep in front of the tv, on the couch, with the lights on. Or even in bed with the the tv, laptop, phone all around and maybe the lights on. You know though, studies have shown that the body gets thrown out of its natural circadian rhythms and you throw off your sleep cycles if you sleep with the lights on. Likewise, if there's noise from tv and devices all around, you don't fully switch off, because part of our primitive survival brain is wired to listen for danger, which the screaming in that tv show at 1am, 3.5 hours after game of thrones, or whatever, just might seem to be. Not to mention, you're still taking ALL of it into your subconscious, whatever was getting broadcast at you through those and other devices over the night while your brain was in highly susceptible brainwave patterns during your sleep. It's all influencing how you'll wake up the next morning and in what mood. Too many electromagnetic fields and signals, wether from your phone, a wifi router, laptop etc around you during your sleep also doesn't help you rest, it's all yet another EMF disrupting your own energetic rhythm and the quality of restoration and repair your body could otherwise be achieving while you sleep. So lights and devices off or out of the room peeps. Plus make some end of day time to meditate and set up for the next day and you'll wake feeling far more refreshed over the winter months,
So there you have it. Thirteen ways to maintain your inspiration over the winter months. How did you go with all that? Did you learn anything new? Or get a handy reminder or two? There's some more research below on all of these, or feel free to ask my own internal wikipedia style database of knowledge, if it might help you in changing up your winter routine.
Until next time, have fun, take care.
Tips For Staying Hydrated This Winter
Fish Oil To Treat Depression
Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies
Vanadium: a possible aetiological factor in manic depressive illness.
High-dose ascorbic acid increases intercourse frequency and improves mood: a randomized controlled clinical trial.
Role of Antioxidants in Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression
How to Increase Serotonin in the Human Brain without drugs
World First Trail Shows Improving Diet Can Treat Major Depression
Face to Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression
Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature
The Benefits of Treating Depression with Laughter
Ways That Humour Heals
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.