Positive Psychology for Winter Blues

GameChanger

 

By Crystal Ramm, Central Community College Ord Learning Center Manager & Regional Coordinator

Winter is coming, and in some parts of Nebraska, snow has already made an unexpected and untimely appearance. There is nothing like trick-or-treating with mittens, stocking hats and snow boots to remind us that gorgeous fall weather is fleeting and winter is almost here!

Now, if you are anything like me, you love curling up on the couch with your favorite fuzzy blanket, snuggled in with family and friends, hot chocolate and a good movie. The slightest chill of fall in the air reminds me of my love for new adventures and cold-weather cooking. I LIVE to make beautiful messes in the kitchen; trying out the newest Pinterest sweet potato chili paired with savory cornbread and pumpkin spice…well, anything.

That said, pumpkin spice can only bring so much happiness. The early snow has also reminded me that it’s not only time to prepare for the cold, but also for winter blues.

Many people experience a little gloom and cold-weather funk now and then during the winter months. For some, these dark and dreary days are much more intense and can transform into Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is much more serious and can interfere with life in general.

If you are familiar with this seasonal phenomenon, you already know that winter blues can be helped by increased sunlight, eating healthy, spending time with family and friends, exercise (especially exercise), and if necessary, medical treatment.

In addition to those tools, I have added another weapon to my winter blues arsenal, called positive psychology. Positive Psychology focuses on happiness and well-being and is defined by its founder, Martin Seligman, as the ‘scientific study of optimal human functioning that aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive’. Positive psychology includes individual creativity, resilience, strengths, courage, humor, flow, emotional intelligence and much more.

 

Four years ago, I was introduced to Positive Psychology as a participant in SynoVation Valley Leadership Academy, Ord, Nebraska’s very own leadership academy. This leadership program continues to change my life for the better and the practice of Positive Psychology, in particular, has benefited me greatly.

Here are six ways I use Positive Psychology to stay energized and ward off winter blues.

Reframe.

I’m as guilty as anyone of starting my morning off with a stream of negativity: “I look like a wild animal.” “I slept in again!” “I’m a terrible mother.” “I hate the cold!” “I suck at life”… you get my drift. Take a moment to REALLY listen to your thoughts. If they aren’t positive, flip them on their rear end! “I look creative and adventurous.” “I take great care of my kids.” “The snow is beautiful!” “I’m curious about what today might bring.” Try it out; you might be surprised at how much better you feel after putting a positive spin on life. Remember, whatever you say about yourself, to yourself, will become your truth, so say nice things.

 

Give Affirmation.

Give an authentic compliment to someone every day. Acknowledge your coworkers incredible graphic design skills, highlight what you love about your partner and TELL THEM. Express your gratitude to the coffee shop barista for his or her positive energy each morning. Call your best friend and explain how they rock at making people feel special. It doesn’t have to be big to be impactful. Don’t forget about yourself here, you’ve done something right today as well! Take a minute to give yourself some much-needed credit. Don’t disqualify compliments that you receive, either. Accept them, say thank you and smile!

 

Crucial Conversations.

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I have the most important conversations with other people—inside of my own head, by myself. I alone write the story, read the story and believe the story. The ending of the story is not usually positive and suddenly I am following the story down a rabbit hole of negative thought. We come to extreme conclusions based on unwarranted assumptions about a person, a conversation, situation or an entire relationship. If you find yourself mulling over someone’s words, invite that person to join your conversation. Ask for clarity surrounding the “issue” and really listen to what that person has to say. Focus on what you want for the outcome of that relationship and go from there.

 

Find joy, laugh.

Having fun used to be simple, but somewhere between your job, parenting, paying the mortgage, another mass shooting, looming terrorism and winter blues, “fun” became more complicated. Surround yourself with friends and family. Play a game, paint, play Legos, watch a funny movie, go fishing, play laser tag, go ice-skating. Make a list of what makes you happy and commit to making those things happen more often!

 

Journal.

Journaling can be a powerful way to focus on the positive and let go of the negative. Make a list of five to ten things you are grateful for every day. Write down any negative thoughts and either reframe them (make them positive) or shred them (literally…it’s freeing).

 

Coaching.

If you feel stuck, take action and talk to someone. Hiring a leadership coach is a powerful way to consistently keep you in the positive and moving forward. My leadership coach is a wizard at leading me out of negativity loops and helping me re-write whatever “story” I am stuck in.

Winter blues or not, what are some ways you could incorporate positive psychology into your life?

You can find out more about SVLA here.

 


 

“The Moment you change your perception, is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.” – Dr. Bruce Lipton

 


 

Crystal Ramm

Crystal Ramm

Manager and Regional Coordinator | Central Community College Ord Learning Center

Crystal Ramm is the Central Community College Ord Learning Center Manager and Regional Coordinator. She grew up in Valentine, Neb., and currently resides in Ord, Neb. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She believes that Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN) is important because it gives Nebraskans an opportunity to connect with people. She is constantly inspired by members of her community so she is excited to represent Ord through CYN.

 

 


 

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