In the northern hemisphere, daylight hours are shortened in winter, generally, from last September to March. This means that we get less exposure to sunlight. Sunlight gives us positive mental wellness. It’s warm mentally and physically, as well as being essential to our health. I want to share some of my mental wellness strategies for the coming winter months. Some of these strategies are an adaptation from others, and some are ones I adopted through practising.
But, first on the importance of mental wellness, specifically in the coming months. Mental wellness is as essential as physical wellness. After all, a healthy body equals a healthy mind. Most of us take regular exercises to improve our physical health, whether through walking, cardio-vascular exercises or fitness classes. I regularly take long walks, practise kickboxing and MMA at least four times a week. If we can look at ways to apply the same strategy to our mental health, we are on the way to improving our overall wellbeing.
However, with the upcoming weather changes and shorter daylight hours, we can be affected by the seasonal changes. Seasonal affective disorders (or SAD) are prevalent. Changes in our external environment will invariably affect change in our inner world. I certainly have noticed the fast-approaching dark nights and the lacking of energy.
What are mental health and mental wellness?
Mental health concerns the health of our mind, psyche and mental construct. This includes our thoughts, our thinking style and our mental model of the world. The mind never sleeps because it works to ensure that our internal organs are functioning at all times. It operates on a cycle that recurs every twenty-four hours, and it is better known as the circadian rhythm. Within the circadian rhythm, various internal organs become active in alignment with the meridian circuit at their peak time. Positive mental health and wellness is a balance of the body-mind in one wholistic system working together. Adverse mental health and illness is an imbalance of the body-mind system causing misalignments.
Why do most of us struggle with our mental health in the winter more so than in the spring or summer months?
Many factors can negatively affect our mental health. Most of us will struggle with daily challenges such as worrying about our finances, job insecurities, time-pressured job-related responsibilities, family worries, relationship concerns etc. But, changes in the weather can also be a factor that lower moods and dampen the spirit.
Most of us may struggle with our mental health in the winter months mainly because of environmental changes, but other influences can be. The fluctuation in the atmospheric pressure can lead to lethargy, tiredness and fatigue. The quickening dark nights do limit our time in daylight. The shorter days come with limitations and the desire to hibernate. Our desire to get out of bed when it is still dark can diminished. And we lack the will to do energy. We grapple with staying positive, and our mental health can slide into low moods.
The good news is that we can do something about this, and we are all capable of taking steps to help improve our mental wellbeing during the winter months. The benefits of positive mental health are essential for our overall wellbeing. Here are some helpful strategies to get you through the upcoming months.
Surround yourself with natural (day)light bulbs or lamps
You can buy daylight bulbs or lamps in any lighting shop or online. The benefits of daylight bulbs help increase our exposure to natural daylight. It helps to improve our moods and mental awareness. It also helps to reduce Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Try it for yourself.
Surround yourself with psychic protection
Be in a meditative state. Visualise yourself surrounded by a transparent white light that encased your entire body. Within the protective bubble, feel the warmth of white light energy recharging your spiritual and physical body.
Ensure that you are well-nourished
For a healthy body-mind, we need to take care of the physical body as this helps maintain a healthy mind. Eating a regular, colourful and balanced diet is essential for positive physical health.
Wellness is about balanced in all aspects of beingness. Eating in moderation. Drinking in moderation. Exercise in moderation etc.
Incorporate meditation into your day
Make time for meditation, set yourself the time and space to be with your inner world. This means sitting still, preferably in a quiet and peaceful place, outside if possible. Go inside yourself. Be with your thoughts and allow your mind to wander, and just observe whatever you’re thinking. And notice the different things that your might be thinking about. And see who is observing the thoughts.
Practice being mindful. Mindfulness is a conscious awareness of our thoughts and the mind. It is about making our automatic thoughts and the thing we think about conscious. If you tend to ruminate over a situation, being mindful helps you to notice the recurring thoughts. Then, you can ask yourself why you keep thinking about those thoughts. You should begin to see a pattern of repetitive thoughts or recurring thinking. I often find myself repeatedly thinking about wrongdoers. The individuals who have caused me aggrieved.
Mindfulness is simply being conscious about your present state of being and notice what you are consciously doing, thinking and feeling at that instance. It is about acknowledging what is and accepting the presentness of those sensations.
Nurture your spiritual Self
Naturally, as we take care of our physical body, we also need to consider our Spiritual Self too. Nurturing our spiritual Self include adopting rituals and practices that align with our beliefs, including religious and cultural traditions. Nurturing your soul also include transparency, honesty and being truthful to yourself. This means confessing and admitting your mistakes and take ownership of your responsibilities. Acknowledge your wrongdoings and let go of the false pride. Inevitably, you can find forgiveness for yourself and for others.
When the temperature drops below our ideal condition, we can be affected energetically. If it’s cold outside, we naturally strive to keep warm. If it’s warm outside, we will adhere to stay cool. Keeping warm physically by insulating our body. Keep warm mentally by ensuring that you wear warm colours, warm food such as chillies or jalapenos peppers, and drink warming beverages. Light a candle – do not underestimate the warmth of a single candle.
“Happiness cannot be persued, it must be ensue.” – Viktor E. Frankl.
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