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Transform the winter blues from S.A.D. to H.A.P.P.Y.

How to use our 5 senses to lift our spirits in late winter.

illustration by Monica Bloom

by Monica Bloom

Winter blues, cabin fever, S.A.D. They all mean we feel a lifelessness, a darkness or lack of vigor as winter drags on until spring. Overall we can feel uninspired and a little depressed!

According to Ayurveda, S.A.D. can happen when we are surrounded by a cold climate, lack of light, too much time spent indoors, and lack of “green” nature around us. We can get depressed because it’s dark and there is an overall lack of prana (life force, life energy) outdoors.

Because we are a part of nature, when nature is lifeless, we often feel lifeless too. 

BUT don’t be S.A.D.! This is not all bad news. There are things we can do to change our mood in an instant!

In Ayurveda, healing is delivered through the five senses (sound, sight, touch, taste, smell), so while the outdoors and overall nature is lifeless, we can bring life IN through our five senses and begin to revive our mood.

5 ways to be more H.A.P.P.Y.

  • H = HEAT. Bring in the heat, by getting some sun on your face in the outdoors or by planning a warm get away in February, March or April. Other ways to bring in the heat include fireplaces, candles, saunas, steam rooms! The bonus about fireplaces and candles is that it’s not just warmth (sense of touch) but it provides natural light which balances out winter darkness.

Heat soothes our mind through the sense of touch and is balancing for vata dosha.

  • A = AROMATHERAPY. Load up the diffuser daily or drop essential oils on your wrists or drop on the floor of your shower and steam up the bathroom, creating a little spa experience! Use a few times a day if you want — there are no rules (that I’m aware of). Choose anyscent that makes you happy. Here are some ideas: lavender, sandalwood, patchouli, frankincense, jasmine, gardenia, grapefruit, ylang ylang. Or take yourself on a “field trip” to any store that has a bunch of essential oils and sniff away. Choose a scent or blend that you really love — and then use it all the time 🙂 

The sense of smell enlivens and pleases the mind and is balancing for kapha dosha. 

  • P = PLAY. Whether exercise or music, enliven your body and your daily experience with play time! Move your body long enough every day to create a little sweat and warm you up (heat!). Make it FUN! Dance, zumba, yoga, skip, power walk with your dog. Whatever it is, make it fun. And don’t forget the music! Music creates the mood. Give yourself a positive, happy, dancey boost with a great playlist. You get extra points if you play fun music while exercising 🙂
  • P = PRETTY. Bring pretty nature inside! Make it a point to pick up some beautiful flowers and/or indoor pots to perk up your space. Bulbs like paperwhites, hyacinths, or tulips are lovely indoors and are fun to watch them grow, too. You could also add some pizazz with a new throw pillow or two to splash of color and vibrancy to your space. 

When our eyes see beauty, our mind gets happy. Pleasing sights are balancing for pitta. 

  • Y = YUMMY. Choose yummy foods that enhance your mood! There are certain foods that I call “mood foods” and these promote a sattvic mind, which is a harmonious, peaceful mind. Sattvic foods come directly from nature and include fresh fruits, fresh veggies, grains, ghee, oils, nuts, honey. If you have those types of foods more often, your mind will feel light, clear and optimistic and peaceful.

What do you think, are these doable for you?! Choose 2 of these ideas that you’d like to practice each day for a week and see if you feel better!

If you do, keep doing them and fold in additional practices when you are ready. TIP: This doesn’t just help us feel more happy, it actually brings JOY and VITALITY to each day. Life is not about working to the bone indoors. Life is to be enjoyed and if we take conscious practice to enrich our senses, our spirits will feel enriched too.

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