At The Dog Haus we always notice a significant change in the dogs’ behaviour when the weather changes. As it gets colder the dogs seem to have infinite energy and you can tell that maybe some pups haven’t been getting their regular exercise.
This isn’t all that surprising as it is that time of year again when it gets hard to get out of bed and face the day. Motivation is at an all time low and really all you want to do is hibernate. I can relate! Trust me. As someone who has suffered long time S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I know all too well about deep dark depression and the misleading comfort it seems to offer. It’s all too easy to slip into that sadness and stay there in a familiar funk. It takes far more energy to be up beat when the days are cold, dark and long and when stress piles high and you just want to give up. But when you have a family or a pet to take care of, it becomes even more imperative to pull yourself up and keep your mood and motivation in check. When other’s rely on us we need to stay positive, focused and moving forward! So I’m here to offer you solace and refuge. Here are my 10 tips on beating the blues so that you can be the best YOU – parent, dog owner, friend, spouse, teacher, nurse, business owner, musician….you get it!
- One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to make time for the things you love! So often when we become depressed or stressed we are quick to remove the things that bring us the most joy. If you think about it those are the things that ignite passion within us and in turn energize us! If you take that away because you feel like you don’t deserve it you will stay at a low. For instance with me, I know being creative is something that inspires me. It is important for me to express myself whether it is through writing (like this blog), painting, singing, or dancing, even when I am feeling down. When I do any one of these things I instantly feel different. I feel lighter, freer, and more me 🙂 Find out what energizes you and do it daily!!! I cannot stress this enough!
- Invest in yourself. What I mean by this is truly take care of yourself. This means eating well, working out, going to bed early, and working on ways to improve yourself. If you take good care of your mental, physical and emotional well being it will show through and effect your overall mood. Think of how good you feel after a good night’s sleep, or a run, or when you master a new skill. Why not incorporate that into your routine to keep you functioning at a high frequency always? Duh!
- Embrace your inner child. Remember when you were young and you did things just for FUN?! Why not do it again. Think of what it was that made you laugh and feel silly and try it as an adult. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t let loose and giggle now and again. Maybe it was playing board games, tobogganing, finger painting, or jumping rope. Try something you haven’t done in a long time and bring back those good memories.
- Listen to uplifting music. When you’re sad or depressed it’s easy to find a soundtrack to your life that keeps you feeling sad and depressed. No offence to Radio Head and ColdPlay, but listening to sad music has a cyclical effect and can often times intensify our sadness. You’re listening to sad music because you’re sad, but you’re also sad because you are listening to sad music, so how is that going to help? Now I’m a huge fan of Bon Iver and other melancholy bands, but I know that in listening to them my depression is not going away any time soon. Conversely, choosing to listen to music that makes you feel good will put you in a happier mood as it actually releases dopamine, the feel good chemical, from your brain (the same affect as chocolate, sex, and some drugs). On days I feel weighed down by stress and sadness I start my morning listening to a favourite song before going to work. Music has such a power over our emotions so use it to help treat your psyche and alter your mood. Try it!
- Meditate. In place of anti-depressants and anxiety medication, meditation is increasingly being used to treat depression and anxiety within the medical profession. It was actually my doctor who suggested I try Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to help deal with my depression and anxiety. And so I began an 8 week course and incorporated it into my daily life often meditating numerous times a day. I encourage you to find time in your life to slow down and live in the now. Simple things like focusing on your breath or sensations in your body help to clear the mind and bring us peace. We live in such a busy world that it seems difficult to take 5-10 minutes to literally do nothing, but it is so important to do so. Consider it like a recharging of your battery. This “time-out” completely alone with yourself with all the distractions gone, will help bring more focus, clarity and harmony to your life. For me, I meditate not just when I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor, but also when I run. When I run I just focus on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I am not concentrating on what I’m doing afterwards or how to solve issues I’m facing at work, I am simply in the moment, running. It is one of the best parts of my day and I feel refreshed afterwards.
- Surround yourself with positive people. It is said that you are a combination of the 5 people you hang out with the most…so choose wisely. Take a look at who you spend a lot of time with and what are they like. Are they ambitious? Passionate? Fun? Or maybe they are Debbie Downers and people who like to have pity parties. If you want to be confident, positive, and successful find people who inspire that within you. Remember energy is contagious so if you are hanging out with people who have bad vibes, they will rub off on you. Good vibes only people 🙂
- Practice gratitude. If you count your blessings each day it’s pretty hard to feel bummed about life. Do you have a job? A roof over your head? Friends and family who love you? Are you healthy? Are you alive and breathing? I suggest that each day you right down the things you are thankful for. Make a list and appreciate all the little things you have in this world. It’s important to also practice gratitude with others. It feels pretty good to actually say “thank you” to people every once in a while. Think about an employee who works really hard, a family member who is generous towards you, or a neighbour who does kind gestures and take the time to give them the appreciation they deserve.
- Do something nice for someone. A random act of kindness is a sure fire way of lifting your spirits. Good deeds really shouldn’t be done just because they make us feel good, but it is an added bonus! You could do something small for a stranger like holding the door open or do something big for a friend, either way it causes a ripple affect of good vibes. Even if the act itself is simple or anonymous it feels good deep down in your soul to make someone else happy. Spread kindness wherever you go and kindness will reflect back to you.
- Repeat daily affirmations. It sounds cheesy but it works! Write them down, say them to yourself out loud in front of a mirror, or repeat them in your head when you get feeling blue. Self talk is a powerful thing so telling yourself things like “I am a kind and positive person” or “I am beautiful inside and out” make a huge difference in how we perceive ourselves. You are what you think so think positive things about yourself and you’ll believe it to be true…because it is!
- Lastly, and probably most important, GET OUTSIDE! Sure it may be chilly, but bundle up and brave it! There is nothing better than fresh air in your lungs to make you feel alive. So resist the urge to stay inside all day and binge watch Netflix, because that’s not doing anyone any good. Strap on your boots, leash up your dog and go for a good walk in the great outdoors! It’s exercise for you and your dog and you’ll both feel better because of it, trust me!