Guest article by Karen M. Pettrone-Keber
Winter has arrived and with it an increase in SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) cases. According to long-standing research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, the winter season ignites feelings and moods of depression for many, especially for those living in the northern parts of the US with less daily sunlight.
I am one such unwilling victim of SAD, and it has taken more than just sitting in front of a light box to quell my dis-ease with the symptoms! So, as a middle-aged person, I decided not to wish away one-third of my life each year. Instead, I make it a habit to practice ways of enriching the dark days of winter – and these rituals start and end with gratitude.
So, if you are game, let’s begin!
First off, I “Jot ‘n Journal” the start of my day in gratitude. Before my feet touch the floor, I take a deep breath and smile. I keep a notebook by the bed and jot down a few things I will be thankful for during the hours to come. For example, a warm shower, a great forthcoming project that needs work, or a hot cup of morning tea. These written reminders can keep me focused on what I have and not on thoughts of lack, scarcity, or stressors of the day ahead.
Next I drop, stop, and give myself 10-15 minutes of fun. Yes, you read that right! This time off might even come in the middle of a project. I make this a regularly occurring priority each day to drop what I am doing and engage in an activity I love. Whatever it is, I make sure it is not work- or errand-related. Examples could include a short walk outdoors, enjoying a simple piece of fruit, or a social phone call to a friend or family member. Just remember, it is not a chance to “catch up” or remove something from the endless to-do list! “Productive” is not a word attached to this planned activity.
Finally, as the day grows to a close and darkness returns, we come full circle back to gratitude. I call it “thanks for the memories” time. In the same journal I started my day with, I end with moments of reflection and thanksgiving. I jot down at least one thing I felt good about during the day. It could be something that woke up one of my five senses, like a wonderful scent, or a good deed gone unnoticed, a great meal, or anything that makes me remember the infinite, wonderful things in life.
Taking it one step further, I enter something to be grateful for that I recall another person did during the day. A favor, a smile, or gestures of kindness are all examples of such.
And the final journal entry is a short list of things to be continually thankful for such as health, happiness, and simply being. Research shows, and your body knows, that when the focus is on the positive you will always feel the warmth, the light, and the happiness life has to offer, regardless of the season…guaranteed!
Photo by Flickr user malavoda
Karen M. Pettrone-Keber is a life strategist who helps individuals explore their creative, expressive nature. With a degree in psychology and an advanced degree in education, she continued her schooling by successfully completing a certificate program in nutrition, herbalism, and aromatherapy from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. In addition to establishing her coaching business, Karen has spent decades as an educational consultant and literacy specialist. Today, Karen offers a wide range of programs and services to people of all ages, including families with young children, women seeking a new and exciting path, or anyone seeking a more balanced and happy life journey.