Chicago Suburban Family

Wellbeing

Nourish Your Spirit this Winter

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Got the winter blahs? You’re not alone. With the light-hearted holidays behind us and a stretch of cold, dark days ahead, this time of year can be rough, especially when many of us are forced to isolate away from friends and family. Banish winter yuck with a few of these nourishing self-care tips.

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Rest
With Covid-19 continuing to surge (not to mention the flu, colds and various other ailments running crazy eights through many households this time of the year), taking time to rest can help protect your health. Treat yourself to a cat nap, early bedtime, or simply rest with your eyes closed for 15 minutes.

Tip: Are worries keeping you awake? Write them down in a worry journal along with three daily gratitudes. Spray lavender essential oil mixed with water on your pillow. Then, lights out.

Collect the good stuff
File away feel-good comments people share with you and read them when you’re down. Make a Pinterest board with items that raise your spirits like inspiring quotes, pretty homes, or comforting recipes.

Tip: Start a Joy Jar. Include notes from friends, photos that lift your spirits, enlightening quotes, small trinkets, funny quips from your kids or daily gratitudes.

Make lists
No, not to-do lists which can only serve to overwhelm a tired, tender spirit. Instead make lists that answer questions like: Wouldn’t it be amazing if…? What are my dreams? What do I need less of in order to get more of what I want in my life? What am I grateful for? Who am I grateful for? What did I notice today? Or simply list your favorite books, movies, people, music, etc.

Tip: Decorate a special notebook just for your dream lists.

Disconnect
Just as you can catch feelings of sadness, anger or happiness from people you interact with face-to-face, a study published in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences suggests that emotionally-charged posts on social media can also influence your mood. Notice if you feel bummed or drained after spending time on social media. Curate your feed by unfollowing consistently negative individuals or groups, disable constant news notifications, and be aware of the types of posts you click on and share.

Tip: Take weekly social media sabbaths and establish daily time limits to regain control. Curb social media use by downloading an app like Space, Freedom or App Detox.

Listen
Dial up your favorite tunes by creating music playlists that either soothe or energize you. Also, try a guided meditation. Even a few minutes a day can help you interrupt the loop of negative, anxiety-provoking thoughts.

Tip: Check out the many mindfulness apps available like Insight Timer, Calm, Head-space, and Stop Panic and Anxiety.

Get away—sort of
Escape winter by traveling to a warm, sunny spot virtually. At VisitFlorida.com, feast your eyes on a beach bonfire or watch a sunrise while listening to the soothing sounds of the surf. Or visit Hawaii on YouTube and take a relaxing two-hour stroll along Waikiki Beach in Oahu.

Tip: Get into the spirit of your virtual getaway by making food and beverages inspired by the destination. At DiscoverPuertoRico.com, for example, take a virtual road trip around the island while sipping on a cocktail like a pina colada or mojito. (Check out YouTube or Pinterest for recipes.)

Read
From inspiring memoirs, humorous essays to page-turning novels, curl up with a book and a warm beverage. Share your love of reading by starting a virtual book club with other enthusiastic bibliophiles.

Tip: Follow your favorite authors online for quick hits of inspiration.

Relax
Are you someone like me who has trouble warming up on a cold day? On days like that, my go-to is a warm, soothing bath. Candles and lavender Epsom salts are inexpensive ways to make bath time even more special.

Tip: Schedule a massage, hot stone treatment, manicure or pedicure. Don’t forget to ask about their COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Seek deeper conversation.
Remember how good you feel after you’ve spent time laughing or discussing meaningful topics with close friends? Good conversation that goes deeper than small talk helps us feel a strong sense of connection with others. And, it’s good for you. Even time spent virtually with good friends can help boost our immune systems and de-crease our stress levels.

Tip: Schedule a Zoom or FaceTime coffee or cocktail hour with a friend or two. Even an hour will make a significant difference in your outlook.

Give
Big or small, doing something kind for someone is uplifting times two! Surprise an acquaintance with a thoughtful note, mail a funny card to a friend, or post a positive review for a local business.

Tip: Pay for the customer behind you in the drive-thru at your favorite coffee shop. Baristas say they get inspired by this practice too!

Exercise
If weather permits, bundle up and take a walk. The fresh air, the bright light of the sun on your face and time spent in nature can effectively lift an otherwise damp mood. If you can’t get outside, any kind of regular exercise can boost the feel-good endorphins in your body. For additional motivation, ask a friend to join you for a socially distanced stroll.

Tip: Part of healthy living includes feeding your body well. Choose colorful berries, winter vegetables and comforting soups.

Play
We aren’t designed to work, work, work all of the time. Even animals play! Play with paint, turn on the tunes for an impromptu dance party with your kids, or try a Pinterest project just for fun.

Tip: Get your family playing by scheduling a game night or goofing off outside together.

Declutter
Feeling stuck and bogged down? Begin decluttering your home, and you’ll immediately feel lighter. Start with things that are broken, damaged, no longer fit or no longer bring you joy.

Tip: Grab a bag or box and go around your house, picking up something from each room that you are ready to give away or discard. For additional tips, check out the book Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver.

Laugh
With all of the chatter, vitriolic opinions, depressing news and chaos in the world right now, it’s easy to get mired in everything that isn’t going right. Sharing silly memes and videos on social media, talking with a friend who makes you laugh, and watching laugh out loud sitcoms helps.

Tip: Set your DVR to record reruns of your favorite sitcoms or funny movies and watch when you need a break.

**Note: Depression and anxiety are serious health conditions. Please consult your physician if you continue to struggle.**

By Christa Melnyk Hines

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