The Practice of Gratitude as an Rx to Beat the Winter Blues: Gratitude Journal Challenge
In the midwest, February though shortest in days, can feel like the loooonnnngggggest month of the year. For me it matters not if that bashful groundhog in Punxsutawny sees his shadow or not, by this time in the winter, I am jones’in for spring.
This afternoon, I was working with a teenage patient who is feeling the same way. Kinda punky, cabin feverish, and having trouble seeing the positive in things today. We all get that way sometimes, yes? And in Indiana, after a stretch of cold gray days where the sky feels as low as a hobbit’s ceiling, you betcha, I feel it too.
Now this kind of itchy, restless, bluesy is different than a persistent stretch of down days or debilitating forms of mental distress. For those experiencing severe anxiety or depression, intensive support is vital and should be sought with your personal physician ASAP! What we are talking about here is the winter blues, that end of hibernation time, cooped up, will the sun ever shine again on this frozen tundra kind of disquietude.
In my experience, mindfulness techniques can be a wonderful boon to help lift us out of the winter blues. Several research studies have linked the use of gratitude practices to improved mood, increased energy and positivity. (click for reference link).
Starting a gratitude journal is a simple, cost effective, and uplifting intervention that can help us to focus the brain’s attention on the possibilities in life, and away from a habit of dwelling on fears or regrets. At Nourish Wellness, our gratitude journal workshop is among our most popular, especially when offered in the dregs of winter :).
So I’m starting mine again today, in solidarity with my patient who is starting her gratitude journal as well. If you are in need of a lift, join us! Grab a notebook and a pen and set aside 10-15 minutes a day to reflect on what brings you joy. What are the gifts in everyday life, big and small, that you sometimes overlook? Make a list of 10 people, places, things, or experiences that warm your heart and make you feel appreciation… write a new list every day… for 45 days. Give us a shout out to let me know your experiences before, during, and after. Believe me, its a game changer!
So you guys are my accountability buddies for day 1 of this winter’s Dr. C gratitude journal. Just 44 more to go!
Here is my list for today:
- The health of my family, all are hale and hearty at the moment.
- The unconditional love of my Rosie pup, my intrepid adventure companion & cuddle bug.
- The amazing ability of the body to heal. I’m grateful that a tear in my gastrocnemius (calf) muscle which had me on crutches a few weeks ago has healed well enough to do Warrior III yogasana on a fallen tree today.
- A warm and cozy home in these chilly days.
- Meaningful work.
- A supportive community which inspires me to keep growing, learning, and creating (that includes you!)
- The potential energy I can sense in the soil under my gardens…Mama Earth may appear to be hibernating but she is preparing for an abundant spring.
- The daffodils whose noses are peaking out of the soil next to my front door.
- The knowledge that even on the grayest of days, the sun is shining in its glory up there above the atmosphere, and the clouds bring snow + rain which nourishes the rivers & the fields & the gardens…where springtime will soon flourish again.
Now its your turn. One notebook, one pen, 15 minutes a day, one list, ten items, for 45 days. Go!
Let me know what you think after you complete your gratitude journal challenge!
Written by Ann C. Collins, MD, RYT