Mid-Winter Mood Brighteners

01/26/2017 08:37 pm ET

Feeling stressed? Whether it’s the winter blues or contentious politics getting you down, mid-winter is always a good time to find new ways to renew your spirits.

For better sleep:

  • Gentle yoga moves and stretches at bedtime will work out the kinks, fill your lungs with refreshed air, and get you yawning. Just sit naturally on the bed (cross-legged if you can) and do adaptations of yoga stretches with your arms, neck, sides and back. Don't reach hard or bounce as you might for a sports stretch--instead go for good posture, slow movements, and hold each stretch for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Soothing music. If you're not sure what to buy, start with a Pandora track based on George Winston, Forest, or similar artists and songs.
  • A good quality Pranamat.  A Pranamat has hard lotus-like flowers on it—lying on it is akin to lying on a bed of nails.  The endorphins released by the mat soften the edges of worry and sorrow and bring on deep, blissful sleep. I recommend Advaita’s beautiful and eco-conscious mats. They also make great gifts!
  • Valerian-mint tea.  Avoid wine or other dehydrating beverages at bedtime.  Milk helps some people, but the late night protein boost can actually cause an energy surge that cancels out the soothing power of calcium.  This herbal tea, however, has soothing properties and acts as a muscle relaxant.  It also has a calming effect on your stomach.
  • Moisturize your extremities.  (Yes, guys, you too.)  It just plain feels good of course, and it will make you more comfortable throughout the night.  Plus, moisturizing will help your skin--your body's largest organ--breathe and release toxins.

To soothe stress and lift your mood:

  • Watch a few minutes of comedy. Whether it's old-fashioned antics or a late night show, a few minutes of irreverence will lift anyone's mood.
  • Bake cookies.  Even if your only baking skill is donning an oven mitt, you can still fill the house with that wonderful baked cookie aroma by buying refrigerated dough.  Studies have shown that the aroma of baking bread or pastry produces a soothing and healing physiological response.
  • Drink water. Deyhdration can make you feel slow, creaky and irritable. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel if you remind yourself to drink even 2 glasses of water a day.
  • Get outdoors. No matter how foul the weather, get outside and enjoy at least 20 minutes of natural light and fresh air.
  • Buy yourself a bouquet. Guys, you too! Nothing says “spring is just around the corner” than a vase of flowers or a new potted plant.
  • Start a plan for the year.  Just like in the movie Bucket List, create a list of 10-12 projects and goals you want to attempt in the coming year.  Include everything you want to do, know matter how quirky or improbable.

Energy boosts:

  • Lemonade fast. It seems counter-intuitive but this liquid fast on lemonade made of fresh lemons, water, Grade B maple syrup and cayenne actually produces amazing results. A one or two-day fast will help you feel lighter, stronger and more energetic. It will also banish those dark circles under your eyes.
  • Vitamin B.  Because vitamin B is water soluble, it is not stored in the body and you can easily become depleted of this essential nutrient. I take a slog of liquid vitamin B-complex straight from the bottle. If you read the labels on most energy drinks and energy shots, the main ingredient is a liquid B-complex. Personally, I prefer a high grade nutrient solution to bubble-gum flavored shots. But I do keep some energy drinks around too and if, like me, you object to the tutti-frutti flavors, just dilute them in sparkling water and add a slice of fresh lime. That will help keep you hydrated, too!

Do you have suggestions to add to the list?  Please add them in the comments box. 

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