So it’s cold. It’s gray. It’s dark. And I feel lame. Do you ever feel yucky when the weather is bad? What about fully depressed? I sure do. That’s when I open my mental health kit!
Where’s the Sun?
Some days, there’s less sunlight than I’d like. I love the sun’s ability to make me feel bright, engaged, open, activated, and tuned-in. So when my bright friend is hidden behind clouds for the *$@%ing fifth day in a row, I start to feel a little puny.
My cure? Immerse my mind in something.
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My Cure is Immersion
I have a theory that my brain loves the sun because of the type of state it gets me into. An immersive one. One where it is easy to pay attention to and enjoy something for a while. When I’m immersed, I can’t think of anything else.
So, when I don’t have the sun to help me, I engage in activities that allow my brain to fall into the same deep, engaged state.
The trick is to find immersive activities. Then actually do one!
Go back into your memories, and pick out some things that feel great to do! Things that when you do them, you can’t think of anything else. Immersive activities that will truly activate your brain. Here is my winter blues mental health kit!
Mental Health Kit
To help stimulate your noggin, I’ve got a checklist of activities for ya! A mental health kit, if you will. These are things that can activate your brain and uplift your mood. And they’re simple. They are things you might do weekly anyway; things that you probably already have the materials for.
1. MIND-OCCUPYING TASKS
Here are some activities guaranteed to take you in:
- Get out your art supplies and doodle, draw, or paint
- Organize something (junk drawer, vanity, pantry, etc. – very satisfying)
- Pre-chop some vegetables (soothing and helpful to your future self)
- Color in your adult coloring book (I know you have one)
- Work a puzzle
- Look at pet memes
- Knit (okay I don’t know how to knit, but I heard its lit)
2. TRANSPORT YOURSELF
Take your mind to a new place. See different things. Feel different things. Do it actively, not passively.
- Go for a nature walk (Otherwise known as a nature bath -nature is magical in any season.)
- Treat yourself to a nice meal at a cute little restaurant (You know, the one that makes you feel like you’re back on that amazing trip)
- Hit the thrift shop (Go pop some tags baby! Buy a weird kimono for $5 that makes you feel like a goddess. Then send me a pic.)
- Walk around the block (This is so easy and instantly effective at resetting my mind)
- Go for a stroll around the mall (Lots of activity, people, and free samples)
- See a movie in the theater (Pick something weird)
- Play a video game (Suddenly you can fly and shoot lightning bolts!)
- Try the free meditation introductory class (You know, the one you always see signs for? It will be AMAZING.)
- Visualize a beautiful, calm place
- Plan a dream vacation (Not a realistic vacation)
- Read a book in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, or History (Personally, I would never read history. But some people say it’s dope.)
- Read a story to kids
3. PLAY WITH YOUR NEUROTRANSMITTERS
Try drinking a different type of caffeine than your usual. Caffeine works at the neurotransmitter level; new caffeine causes new activity. Drinking it will give you a brain boost (and maybe some antioxidants). I like to have one of these when the sun goes down (and I get sad about it). Just one cup 🙂
- Green tea (get those antioxidants baby!)
- Matcha latte (way more antioxidants)
- Earl Grey tea (You fancy)
- A piece of dark chocolate and fruit (super yum with raspberries)
- Espresso (whip your pinkie out!)
- Chai latte (black tea)
- Tip: Do something FUN after you drink this. Not something you hate.
4. JUMP AROUND
Time to shock your system awake. Shake it up. Shake it off. Whatever, just move your body (vigorously, baby).
- Sing an Alicia Keys song loudly
- Dance party in the kitchen
- Go for a quick jog (wearing your brightest workout clothes)
- Watch dance vids on YouTube (I’m obsessed with JoJo Gomez’s choreography)
- Do yoga for 20 mins (I just do 10 sun salutations then lay in corpse pose)
- Workout to one little video
- Try a new dance class (I HIGHLY recommend African dance)
- Watch a sporting match or reality show that makes you get up and yell at the screen
5. EAT SOMETHING THAT FEELS GOOD
If you feel lousy, maybe your sugar levels are too low, or you’ve been eating junk? Fresh, delicious, genuinely nourishing food helps me feel like a functional human again. These always make me feel better:
- Berry smoothie (antiox alert!)
- Hummus (mmm… lemon & garlic is my fave)
- Granola bars (these homemade ones might change your life)
- Chili (I feel emotional just thinking about chili)
- A juicy piece of fruit
- Beans (how are these so satisfying?)
- A few carrots (v classy)
- A nice tall glass of water
6. BODY KINDNESS
Aww. When I feel low, some TLC feels wonderful. You probably need to do one of these right now:
- Take a long, hot shower
- Rub your feet on a tennis ball
- Rub your hands
- Head massage!
- Clip your nails (if that’s not self-care, I don’t know what is)
- Moisturize your skin (Check out my blog post Winter Mental Health Trick: Keep Dry Skin Happy for 10 amazing and weird tips)
- Massage (DIY, or ask someone who loves you to rub your back)
So there you go! Lots of ideas. Pick one. Try it out. Then write up a list of more.
Make your own Mental Health Kit
What would you add to the list above?
To make your own mental health kit, simply make a checklist for yourself, and put it somewhere you can easily find it!
Some people even fill a box with mental health kit items to help themselves on down days, such as tea bags, art supplies, cute toys, pictures, lotion, aromatherapy, etc.
If you’re feeling down, and the weather is not helping, I feel for you. I suggest stimulating your mind. It works well for me 🙂
Dr. Erienne Weine
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