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10 Tips To Get Your Inner Glow Going (Because Researchers Declare Today the Most Depressing Day of Year)

Posted Jan 22 2013 10:07pm

Researchers – who, exactly, I can’t tell you, but they exist, I promise – declare the 3rd Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year. The buzz of the holidays is over, Spring is too far off to get excited about, the only Halloween candy left in your kids’ plastic pumpkins are Mary Janes or Nerds, it is depressing! Add on that it’s freezing and dark out a lot of the time and you add a case of SAD (Seasonal Affectation Disorder) to the causes. I get SAD big time, my mood has been hugely affected by how much sun I receive since I was little. Ahh…those years in New Mexico were good. Anyway, I feel it too, I’m looking for the next thing to hitch my soul wagon to, to get me moving. But here’s my take on it…it’s ok to be a bit blue this time of year. In Chinese philosophy, this is the Yin time of year, the time to be quiet, still, withdrawn, building strength. Spring and Summer are the times for outward energy and motion and travel and excitement, flowering of seeds that were quiet in winter. So my first rule is, don’t fight it. You’ll get instantly happier if you don’t expect this time of year to be too thrilling. Let it be quiet. But that said, we all need a little boost now and then, so here 10 ideas for getting your inner glow going during this dark time of year.

1) Don’t fight this time of year. Ok, I already said that, but it’s important. Accept that winter is a time to rest up after more hectic seasons. Let yourself be quiet, be home, move in synch with the season, the weather. Stopping resistance is always the first step to getting happier.

2) Margaritas. Come on, it’s ok to lighten up a bit right? Not every tip has to be deep. Red wine is comforting too. Or if you don’t indulge, then a soothing cup of tea is always wonderful for the soul.

3) Light a candle. I swear a single candle is so powerful. It’s like a beacon for the soul, illuminating, centering, inspiring, calming. And in these dark times of year, almost holy sometimes, just light a simple candle.

4) Cook something hearty. I love to make spaghetti bolognese – ground beef, tomato sauce, a few veggies, lots of parm. A big bowl of that will warm my soul any time. You might like something else, but indulge in a healthy comfort food. A little sweet is nice too, but don’t overdo junk food. It feels great for 13 seconds but then is kind of a mood killer the rest of the day. But healthy comfort food – indulge! This time of year it’s good to do that. Ok, that’s 2 indulgent things in a row. So…

3) Get outside. Get some air, some sunshine. Even in winter that sunshine is good for the mood, the body, the spirit. And fresh air is an instant mood booster, and it’s something many of us get way too little of in winter. As the Scottish saying goes, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. So bundle up and get outside, maybe even get your heartbeat up with a brisk walk or run. It feels refreshing and invigorating and wonderful. And then you’ll feel less guilty about your wine and pasta later too, so double benefit!

4) Read. What could be better in winter than curling up under a blanket with a great book? I love having a book that is so engrossing that I look forward to my evening read all day long. Don’t judge what you like. War & Peace – total page turner, loved it. But Nora Roberts has her strengths too (she’s a cheesy romance novelist for the dudes reading this), spy thriller, non fiction, John Deere tractor manual, doesn’t matter. As long as it gets your happy chemicals flowing, get under a blanket and enjoy!

5) Have sex. I think that’s a good thing to do in winter. Or any time. Those elusive researchers have found sex to be a major mood booster (big surprise). It’s also a little exercise. Sex burns something like 300 calories. But who cares really, it’s just fun. And if you’re alone….well this is a PG-13 kind of blog but I think you know where I’m going here…

6) Be with people. Winter forces us all indoors, behind walls and away from others. Be sure to have a friend over or go out and connect with people at this time of year. The best way to determine a person’s happiness is apparently measuring the number of social connections – the more good friends, family, etc that a person has, the generally happier they are. So get out the phone and make some lunch dates/play dates/move dates, whatever.

7) Laugh. Watch a funny movie, one that really gets you giggling. Or hang out with that one friend that has you in stitches. Laughter is the best medicine – in fact it is, it’s proven to boost your happy chemicals and relax the body. I’m starting to see a wonderful evening take form here: Wine, pasta, good book, funny movie with a friend, and end the night with sex. No wonder I’d be happy after following my advice!

8) Make plans. Think about something you’d like to do or somewhere you’d like to go this year. For me I love getting seed catalogs in winter and thinking about the beautiful garden I will plant. The fact that I plant it and then manage to kill most of it every year never holds me back! Pretty pictures of flowers and tomato plants and bean poles make me giddy. But whatever your thing is, start creating…a trip to Paris? Or your local state park. Or the beach. Or a project your want to build, home improvement you want to do. It’s motivating to think and plan for the year ahead. But make it fun. Cleaning out the gutters, or dealing with that huge pile of papers by your phone – not a mood booster! Think of something that makes you smile to plan.

9) Change something. This is always good for a boost. Move furniture around in a room, clear out that disastrously messy corner of your basement you pretend doesn’t exist, make a meditation corner in your home, plant an indoor window garden…whatever it is. Change is the spice of life and I think mid-winter is a good time for spiciness!

10) Be of service. I saved the best for last. The very best way of all to make yourself feel better is to do something for someone else. To get rid of the self pity or sluggish thoughts we can all have in our heads and be of service to someone in need. What a soul soother. Because we all know ultimately this is why we are here, to be of service to the world in some way, whether large or small. Volunteer somewhere. Donate all the things you cleaned out of that basement corner (the good stuff anyway). Or simply look all day long for simple ways to be kind. That is the ultimate way to get your inner glow going and you’ll pass your glow along to all you touch in the process.

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