Bringing in the new year can be an exciting time. Most of us look forward to letting go of the old to welcome the new. But the winter season can often lead to what is known as the Winter Blues. When the holiday festivities end, there’s a realization that we have to get through the rest of the cold months, turning inward and relying on ourselves to create our own little slice of enjoyment.
Surprisingly this is not always easy and anxious feelings about the long colder days ahead are normal and very common. Don’t worry; we have a handful of ideas, backed by science, that are easy to do and proven to raise your spirit and brighten your day!
Random Act of Kindness
What do we get when we give? Did you know that helping others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease?! And even better, the gesture of kindness doesn’t have to be a big thing. Something as small as sending a text to a friend can positively impact your well-being.
The Journal of Positive Psychology found that trying to make others happy is more personally beneficial than when others try to make you happy. You read that right– it’s more beneficial for your mental well-being to give rather than to receive!
A simple smile or complimenting a stranger, doing an unexpected chore around the house, or making someone a meal– these are all small things that can reduce your stress and boost your immune system!
Listen to Bird Sounds
We know the idea of listening to birds sing to reduce stress sounds crazy, but there are actual studies on the power of bird sounds. According to Eleanor Ratcliffe from the University of Surrey, in her thesis examining the restorative perceptions and outcomes associated with listening to birds, bird sounds have the ability to transport you to nature. And we all know that being in nature can be incredibly therapeutic.
Idaho winters can make it difficult to listen to birds singing, but we have good news, the bird sounds don’t have to be actual birds. Downloading a bird sound app or listening to bird sounds on YouTube has the same effect as the real thing. And, of course, we recommend listening to the Mountain Bluebird!
Learn Something New
Often, the winter blues can make us feel “stuck.” With fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures, prioritizing the things that will make you feel like you are progressing can feel like a struggle.
Mel Robbins, New York Times best-selling author of The High Five Habit and The Five Second Rule, said, “feeling stuck is not a permanent state; it is a signal from your soul that there is something you need to do. Your mind, body, and soul operate on a system of signals. It’s how you know what you need. If you feel cold, you need shelter. If you feel hungry, you need food. And if you feel stuck, you need GROWTH.
That’s all feeling stuck means. It’s a signal that you stopped growing and your heart and soul need growth to survive. Whenever or wherever you feel stuck, it’s just a signal– so follow it.”
Trying something new is a simple yet radical way to feed your soul and feel “unstuck.” Take a yoga class, try a new hobby, learn a new skill, or read a new book; whatever it may be, you are watering your own garden of life by doing something new.
Declutter & Organize
Clutter, by definition, is a large number of things that are not arranged in a neat or orderly way, a crowded or disordered collection of things. A recent study from UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) found that clutter has a deep-seated effect on our mood and self-esteem.
Decluttering, cleaning, or organizing your house can feel similar to getting yourself ready to go to the gym– the struggle to go is real, but you feel significantly better once you have completed the workout.
Decluttering doesn’t need to be an overwhelming chore. Start small with something like a closet or pantry. Small cleaning and organizing goals will help prevent feeling overwhelmed and still provide the minimalistic lifestyle’s positive mental health benefits!
Pro-tip, if you struggle to know when to let go of an item, you can use the 20/20 rule. This rule will help you distinguish between the “just in case” items worth holding onto and those that can be let go. As you go through each item, the rule requires you to ask, can I replace this item for $20 or less? Can I replace this item in 20 minutes? If the answer is yes to both, you can let it go knowing the item can easily be replaced if/when necessary.
Your home is a sacred place that is an extension of your energy. Your home can have a profound impact on your well-being, and your well-being can have a profound impact in your home; it’s a balanced imperative to living well.
The colder winter months are an invitation to go inward. To deepen your relationship with yourself and your connection to the things you are surrounded by.
Even if you prefer to skip ahead to the warm days of summer, by embracing the present and taking a few steps to improve your well-being, you will be ready to bloom when the winter season transitions to spring. At the Mike Brown Group, we here to help you live well in your space.