Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Happiness and success

 

Girel with umbrella in the rainHere in Melbourne, Australia we're halfway through a pretty cold and bleak winter and many of us tend to get a bit 'blue'.  Some have a more serious problem, SAD, or Seasonally Affected Disorder', which is an unfortunate change of body chemistry due mainly to lack of sunlight, and can be hard to overcome.

However, most of us can do something to cheer ourselves up, so here are some of my favourite ways ...

1.   Don't run Winter down.

We tend to speak very negatively about cold, wet weather and this means a constant stream of negative talk and self-talk to our brain reinforcing how depressing winter is.  Keep it light!  Remember the alternative is not having enough water, or even water restrictions during the summer months.  Try and be as positive as possible about Winter to others and to yourself, and give yourself a mood boost.

2.   Colour it up!

I don't know about your part of the world, but here in Melbourne, we like to wear black.  Black, black, black!  It's elegant and versatile, but it can really get you down.  Look at your wardrobe and if you can't choose a more colourful piece of clothing, at least find a bright scarf or accessory.  Pink, red, yellow and lavender are great colours for winter, but any bright colour will send a cheery message to you and others, reminding us of spring flowers or beach umbrellas.  On the subject of flowers, buy a bunch of colourful flowers just for you.  Put them where you see them constantly (even if it is in front of the television).

3.   Eat warm meals!

Winter is the perfect time for a cheer-up chunky winter-warmer soup.  I like to put chilli and barley in mine, with lots of veges in a good stock.  Make the effort to put on a great stew or casserole.  If you've been saving up a bottle of red - put a third of it into a yummy beef burgundy.  It's well worth the effort.  Gabriel Gate has a great recipe in his wonderful book 'Taste Le Tour', recipes from the Tour de France cycle race.  Gabriel's book is available on his website.  Two hours in the oven and it's a smell to cheer up the bluest winter and tastes heavenly.  If you're allowed alcohol, enjoy the remainder of the bottle!

4.   Get outside!

Unless you're nursing a cold or there's some other reason you can't expose yourself to the weather, rug up, grab your umbrella and step outside!  Even a quick walk around the block can improve your mood and, when the sun does show itself, it's a definite mood improver.  If you think you can't leave your desk - think again.  Spending the whole time at your desk (even eating lunch and taking breaks there), can add significantly to your stress and depress you.  If your boss objects to you taking a brisk walk, assert that it's important to have a break and it's been proven to increase productivity.  They can't argue with that.  If you're a boss, get out too!

5.   Enjoy a hot bath.

This is something you can best enjoy in cold weather.  Run a bath - throw in a packet of 'Lectric soda' (Epsom salts) or muscle relaxing Radox.  Alternatively add some beautiful fragrances in the form of essential oils (sandalwood and ylang ylang or geranium are a good combination for cold weather).  Aromas go straight to our emotional brain and if it's a great smell, like woody, floral, (or that beef burgundy, (but not in the bath), it can result in an instant mood lift. Remember you dehydrate in hot water so drink plenty of fluids and rug up afterwards.  Great for aching muscles and bones.

Enjoy winter more and it'll be spring in no time!

Stay warm.

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