Feeling down? Use this as a time for reflection, making changes that will lead to a more satisfying life year round.
Q: I feel like a cliche, but I have the winter blahs. It’s not depression (I checked) but I do need to get myself jump-started. My productivity, energy and satisfaction are really feeling it. What can I do? — Jan, 42, business manager
A: There is actually a lot you can do with a little creativity.
Start simple, breaking out of the small ruts we all fall into. Do you always have cereal for breakfast? Try yogurt or toast. Take a different route to work and really look at your surroundings.
Keeping it easy, watch a different genre of movie or read something that’s outside of your normal arena.
Go to the library and browse through magazines about topics you’ve never thought about before.
Get color in your life. You may be defaulting to grays or blacks in your wardrobe. Use color to wake you up and give you a sense of vibrancy.
Then step it up a bit. Decide on something you’d like to learn or do.
Create some structure to help you be successful with your new objective. If you’d had a goal, say, of stretching a little in the morning, throw yourself out of bed and commit to two minutes. It could quickly stretch to many minutes and become an energizing part of your day.
For that matter, if you have a dog, instead of letting it out into the yard, grab your coat and your pet’s leash and get out a couple of times a day. Even if you’re not depressed, you’re probably inside a lot more. The fresh air and connection with nature will help you feel better.
Now the big stuff. Find something larger than yourself to get involved with. A lot of us drift along, puttering through our lives. It’s pleasant enough, but it’s hard to look back and realize you haven’t really made a difference.
What will it be for you?
What do you care about? What concerns do you have for the world or for future generations?
There are more than enough ways to be involved, so focus on something that is meaningful for you. Consider ways to make a difference for kids. Work on issues related to the environment. Support anti-racism efforts. Get involved in politics. Put yourself into whichever effort you choose, letting it become a powerful focus for your life.
You might think you’re too busy for a substantial engagement. My experience is that becoming busier with something important actually creates energy.
It also sets a powerful example for others around you, including children.
Then look at other aspects of your life. Do you have satisfying work? Enjoyable relationships with family and friends? If not, this is also a good time to enrich these important parts of your life.
It’s good that you’ve considered depression; it was a likely hypothesis. Apart from that, how’s your health? Make a point of choosing wellness — eating healthy food, getting enough rest, and exercising in ways you enjoy.
Tend to your emotional and spiritual well-being as well.
A seasonal slump like this is not uncommon. Use this as a time for reflection, making changes that will lead to a more satisfying life year round.