The cold and dark late afternoons of New England winters can be tough on our bodies and minds. Many people feel down or have “winter blues” during this time.
Mood changes often begin and end when the seasons change. For some, the mood changes can affect our thinking and how we handle our daily life, and can evolve into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression.
Here are some tips and strategies to stay healthy and happy during the winter months:
Move often. Walk, dance, play a sport, do something that rids the body of tension. When you move, serotonin is released in the brain, which produces endorphins, the happy chemicals.
Laugh more. Laughter suppresses the stress-related hormones in the brain and activates the immune system. Laughter also stimulates deep breathing and massages your internal organs.
Breathe for vitality. The oxygen that breath brings to your lungs is your life force. When we are aware of our breathing, we focus our minds. Breathing deeply and fully with great focus can energize and invigorate us.
Eat nourishing food. This enhances your energy. Also, focusing on the experience and sensations of eating can lead to heightened awareness.
Sleep. Getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being. When it comes to health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
Get out in nature. Exposure to the natural world makes us feel better emotionally and contributes to our physical well-being by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
Pamper yourself. A massage or a facial can restore and rejuvenate you. Pampering can also be just luxuriating in the simple beauty of your environment. This might include hot baths, long walks in nature, reading a good book, watching a feel-good movie, creating a healthy gourmet meal.
Share with friends. Cultivate strong social networks, which has been shown to help people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives
Count all your blessings. Assess what is working in your life on a daily basis.
Seek peace of mind. Peace of mind translates into good health because stress and burnout contribute so much to ailments.
On a spiritual note, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh writes in “The Kabbalah of Nutrition,” at Chabad.org, that “The Torah teaches us that, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but rather man lives on the word of the mouth of God.’
“In the Torah, the word ‘bread’ refers to food in general, not just to bread. What the above verse is teaching us is that within the ‘bread’ we eat is invested Divine life-force, and, moreover, that it is important for us to know that this life-force is coming directly from God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life (and, indeed, of all reality).”
PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is an award-winning radio producer, business owner and leader. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, and is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award. Her new “Positive Aging with Patricia Raskin” podcast is broadcast on the Rhode Island PBS website, ripbs.org/positiveaging.