The Doldrums of Winter
For most of my life, I've hated winters. Growing up in Northern Pennsylvania winters felt endless and confining—which took a toll on my physical well-being and mental health. In winter I was less likely to get outside, less likely to workout, and more likely to overindulge in junk food. And I'm not the only one! Not only are thousands of people are affected by seasonal affective disorder during the winter months, thousands more find themselves sluggish, unmotivated, and just kind of "blah." And it's no wonder: a lot of the wonderful things about these colder months, like enjoying comfort foods and cozying up near the fire, can quickly turn into over indulging in food and being sedentary. For many years I struggled through these months knowing that improving my habits would improve my wellness, actually trying to start new habits to improve my wellness, and wanting to tell my wellness to f%ck off. More often than not, I would find myself in what I call a "bathrobe day." Do you know these days? Days that you just can't bring yourself to do... anything. I didn't want to get dressed, I didn't want to work, I didn't want to play with the kids, and I definitely didn't want to move my body or eat something healthy. I wanted to zone out and not have to think. At all. And yet, as much as I didn't WANT to do anything I also didn't WANT to feel like that. It was a terrible place to be, and yet I kept finding myself there. 8 Minutes to Motivation First, I was trying to do all the right stuff, but I really didn't have motivation to be consistent with it. So all of the workout programs I started and the healthy food I bought did a lot of nothing when I was having a bathrobe day. Of course I didn't want to listen to Billy Blank's pep talk or Kino MacGregor's soothing meditations and I didn't want to spend an hour cooking a healthy dinner. And then one day I made up a simple rule that has stuck with me since. I said to myself, "Okay, you don't have to do the entire workout. You just have to do eight minutes of it." So that's what I did. And the next day I said to myself, "Okay, you don't have to go on your regular walk, you just have to walk for eight minutes." And I kept doing this with everything. "You don't have to prep an entire healthy dinner, you just have to prep a healthy side." Sometimes I would only do eight minutes. But most of the time, those eight minutes were all I needed to keep going. Most of the time, I finished the damn workout. Every time, it changed my entire mood. Why? Because:
Showing up is the most important part.
We talked a little bit about this in the Yoga Strong program this week. Week 2 of any change is tough. We often can gather the internal momentum to get us through week one, but usually in week two and three a few things happen:
our bodies start to change, but that change feels tough (think sore muscles, increased cravings) and
our mind revolts by telling us to go back to our comfort zone.
People talk about it taking 21-days to create a habit for a reason! Those first couple weeks are tough. But you know what's easy? 8 minutes. 8 minutes of saying yes to your wellness—to the things that will help you feel better and more motivated. Be aware of the lies your mind tells you like: "I don't have time for that" or "It's too late" or "One time won't make a difference." THESE ARE LIES. If you have time to scroll on Facebook or Instagram you have eight minutes to do some yoga, prepare a healthy snack, or go for a walk. Easy 8 Minute Mood Menders Not sure what to do? Here are my go-to mood menders:
Go outside: Bundle up and go for a walk outdoors. This can be tricky in the winter, but it makes a huge different. Put on your spikes, your winter jacket, and anything else you need. (Psstt... It's only eight minutes!)
Do yoga: Mindful movement can reel in your negative thoughts and give you the space and peace you need to get a second (or first) wind. I regularly post free classes within our private FB group, find one and try it... for 8 minutes!
Prepare a healthy snack: If prepping a whole meal seems intimidating, start with prepping a healthy snack. You'll feel loads better and after a while you won't miss the junk food.
Try breathwork: Breathwork is one of the easiest ways to make an immediate change in our physical body. Practicing box breath or the 4-7-8 breath has been shown to improve Heart Rate Variability, calm moods, and reduce stress—even after just eight minutes!
What are your favorite mood boosting activities? I would love to hear! Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.