How to Feel Sunny on All Those Cloudy Days: 20 Tips
By Dr. Markel, February 5th, 2020
In January, 2020, Grand Rapids, the only city in Michigan with an official sunshine measuring device, had zero sunny days—with only 32 hours of sun this month ( https://www.mlive.com/weather/2020/01/not-much-stands-between-michigan-and-a-ton-of-sunshine.html.)
Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Serotonin is associated with boosts in mood and happiness and a person’s feelings of calm and focus. Darkness, on the other hand, is related to the release of Melatonin, a hormone that tells your body when it is time to sleep.
The lack of sun in many U.S. locations, plus shorter days and colder weather, may bring on the blues. How can you keep up your spirits? Here are some tips:
1. Decide the degree to which winter weather conditions have an effect on your mood and productivity. If the impact is mild to moderate, then commit to reviewing ways to beat the winter blahs and discuss the topic with others. Make a plan and be accountable for working toward your goals. Be on the outlook for more severe chronic or clinical conditions such as seasonal affect disorder (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651.)
2. If you can’t decide the degree of impact, discuss your situation with a physician or clinical professional.
3. Consider Light therapy to increase the amount of light coming into your brain (https://www.health.com/depression/best-light-therapy-boxes.)
4. Wear bright colors. For example, Wear jaunty hats, gloves or scarfs.
5. Place some bright fresh flowers near your bed or in the kitchen.
6. Allot time to create interesting meals. For example, try incorporating some winter veggies in a new recipe. Or, try making some of your favorite comfort food. For a humorous experience related to making comfort food, read the February, Managing Your Mind Newsletter. Sign up on the bottom of the home page, www.mangingyourmind.com.
7. Remember or visualize enjoyable spring/summer events. Consider making a home picnic.
8. Develop an interesting booklist since reading can be recreational and relaxing. Get high- interest, easy-to-read books. You know, the beach books, that entertain you at the beach, lake, porch or couch.
9. Stop being a political junkie, watching or listening to broadcasts all day and half the night. Allot 30 to 50 minutes a day and stop aggravating yourself.
10. Watch musical movies and light television series.
11. Check your diet to ensure you get sufficient Vitamin D (600 IUs). Eat foods such as salmon, tuna yogurt and eggs.
12. Go for nature walks whenever safe, weather conditions exist–especially if the sun shines.
13. Listen to upbeat classical or pop music.
14. Play musical instruments. Remember that old harmonica, ukulele, or recorder. You don’t have to play well. Play easy, silly songs just for fun and relaxation.
15. Try aroma therapy to relax or pep you up. Use candles or bath salts or spices such as lavender or lemon to relax and cinnamon, peppermint, or ginger for a lift.
16. Use your time inside as an opportunity to photograph uncluttered, comforting places in your home. The identify one small declutter or home project to keep you busy.
17. Walk in a mall, use exercise equipment at home or a friend’s house. Join a class at a community center for yoga, dance, or water aerobics.
18. Stay connected to friendly friends, family members, or colleagues. Even a 5-minute call, Facetime, Skype or coffee date can boost your morale. Find a cartoon or joke to share.
19. Pamper yourself. Relax in a warm tub, give yourself a foot massage, watch exotic travelogues, and take a short nap.
20. Practice gratitude. Even when it is gloomy outside, remember that your ability to walk, talk and think are gifts. Even if your job, marriage, or relationships are not what you’d like them to be, still there is much to appreciate. For example, it is freezing outside. Are you happy to be in a warm place? Think about the homeless. How could you help? Perhaps you can donate some heavy sweaters or outerwear that you no longer use.
We don’t control the weather and most of us can’t escape those gloomy months with no sun. However. you can take charge and bring more sunshine into your life.
Contact Dr. Geri for continued discussion and ways to support healthy changes in your lifestyle. You can gain greater work/life balance. Are you interested in greater satisfaction and productivity? Contact Geri at Geri@ManagingYourMind.com