From the movie Cool Runnings comes the great quote “peace be da journey”. Isn’t this what we all want? Unfortunately for some this is simply not the case. The journey is anything less than peaceful. In fact, it’s downright dark and cold.
Not to bastardize the winter but if you live in the northern latitudes, you know that this time of the year can be brutal. It’s unbearably cold and long with limited sunlight. Depression, anxiety, sickness, isolation and weight gain dominate during the winter. The myriad of these and other negative emotional states resonate loudly during a time of Emotional Winter, if you will.
Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced tough times regardless of the earth’s trajectory around the sun. But the silver lining is that emotional winter is a lot like seasonal winter, it eventually ends and gives rise to the spring and then summer. If you feel that life is beating you down with an anvil, remember that the suffering will stop when you want it too. After all, what we feel or experience in life is directly attributed to what we focus on. What truly controls our life is the meaning that we associate to specific events. If you apply a negative meaning, then you must live with the consequences. You can see “it” as win or a loss and in either case you’re right because reality is what you say it is. So why not just see it as a positive? At the end of the day, no one outside of your closest family members cares what choices you’ve made because they are trying to deal with their own choices. You have to take responsibility for yourself.
When you find yourself in a bit of emotional winter, redirect your focus.
- Reach out to help others. Contribution is the easiest path to fulfillment. In fact, it’s paramount to your happiness. What’s better than a warm smile from someone you’ve helped? It gives you a sense of significance, love and connection. Now that’s a recipe for happiness.
- Stop complaining about the way you feel. When you complain your body listens. Negative self-talk enhances oxidation, which damages your body. If your body is unhealthy, emotional winter might seem like an ice age.
- Move. That’s right move. It’s motion that stimulates emotion. Start moving your body consistently; even if it’s just a half hour walk. It will help clear your head and activate your brain.
- When all else fails remember that the way you feel is associated with chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters). Their concentrations change throughout the day just as our anxiety changes. When you’ve hit the wall emotionally, go to bed and the let the chemistry reset but when you awake start your new day with a smile and a fresh new attitude. Give thanks for all that is good in your life. This will ignite the fire within.
You are not alone. What you’re feeling is a common sensation that all humans share. It’s up to you to reignite the fire that will keep you warm during brief emotional winters and eventually melt the ice and snow. Open your heart and focus on what is good in your life. The warmth of the sun awaits you.
Dr. Peter Percuoco is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and a Keynote Speaker. With 30 years of experience, Dr. Percuoco has stepped out of the clinic and onto the stage to share his message of hope and potential inspiring people to be the best that they can be.