5 Tips for getting through the Winter Blues

Though I make an effort to put my best face forward when coming into contact with others, I do admittedly struggle with getting the winter blues that taint my feelings toward myself, my life and everything around me. It's not a fun state of mind to be in. The main difference between me and the typical depression sufferer however is that the fighting streak in me will not allow defeat for long. It takes over and forces me to lift myself up again. Call it the survival instinct of someone who has had to face a lot of adversity in life! So up I go again! Higher than before. And my results are powerful, as can be seen by the growth and continued success of Suncokret and my long-standing personal relationships and continued good health (knock on wood), with the occasional minor setback. In this blog post, I wanted to pass on my 5 best tips for getting through winter like a true Spiritual Warrior: 1. Be sure to get outside for some meaningful encounters with the sun and nature for at least 20 minutes once or twice per day, or at least whenever the weather is forgiving enough to allow. If you can't get out daily, make a committed effort to go out for longer stretches of time, between 1-3 hours, at least once per week instead. On some days, I manage just a little walk around the property with the dogs, but lately I’ve been extending that walk up to the church (see photo) and around our side of the village as I find it truly inspirational and a great way to warm up the body without it feeling like a great effort. The church sits on a hill and offers a view of Stari Grad, Brac Island, our village, the coast line and it is a place where I feel connected to One and where I can talk to the Divine. On weekends, I make a committed effort to spend family time doing things we love outdoors, as much as possible. This past weekend we took a long bike ride along the coast in and around Hvar Town. The weather was sunny and the air was brisk, but it was wonderfully inspirational! 2. Take 20 minutes daily (or as often as you can) to check in with yourself, mind, body and spirit, and be sure to form a dedication or Sankalpa (short, affirmative statement or personal mantra) for your “I am, I AM” time. Start by doing a simple 1-minute grounding exercise, like sitting in Sukhasana while performing Prana Mudra, or standing with your feet firmly on the ground and circling your arms down and around like the sun. In both practices, you imagine drawing life force from the earth and sky into your body, chakras, glands, organs and entire being, connecting to the life force within and around you. ​Do this or anything that allows you to slow down, go within, connect you to how you are feeling today and connect to the Source… Perhaps today’s a day for journaling or taking a mindful walk in nature, instead? It’s all good if it helps you get grounded and feel connected! Next, take 3-5 minutes to perform a few rounds of Surya Namaskar with Ujjayi Pranayama: there is nothing more powerful and uplifting than performing sun salutations in winter while connecting to the light that radiates out from your own heart and connecting you to the life force that drives everything. This will not only activate every part of your being, get your circulation going, connect you to your breath, stretch and strengthen you from head to toe, but it will also help you feel strong, limber and pumped up for the day ahead. And you can do it in just 3 -5 minutes! On days that you simply can’t unroll the mat, just go for a more active walk in nature, or do some active house cleaning, noticing how much better and clearer you feel now that your space is all tidied up! Once you are feeling warm and more flexible, try slowing down and going in deep; performing any 3-5 Asanas, Pranayamas, or perhaps a short Kundalini Yoga Kriya that you feel calling to you from within. If you went for a walk instead of doing sun salutes, then take 5 minutes to deeply observe yourself and the nature surrounding you. Or, if you cleaned house, then take some time to re-decorate or just appreciate the beauty of the space you’ve cleaned. The point is to gain deeper connection and appreciation of where you are at with yourself and life right now. End the process with a minimum 3-11 minute Savasana or Meditation: always rest after your practice to allow time for integration and self-reflection: how am I feeling and how has this practice helped me today? Is there any message I am receiving from my higher being which can help me move forward with my day ahead with more ease and grace? 3. Check in and keep up with your goals from time to time; if you made new year resolutions or are simply dedicated to progressing toward your life’s main goals, check in with how well you are keeping up and adjust accordingly. If you’ve slipped off track, get back up and start again. It’s never too late to be true to yourself and the things you want. Start today: Name 3 things you want most for yourself today, this week, this month, this year. Jot it down, now get to work! ​​4. Make time for friends and social life; whether it’s just a coffee, lunch or dinner date, a playdate with like-minded mamas and papas, a walk in nature with a dear one, or even a meaningful chat over the phone, don’t forget to feed your soul with the blessing of good company to keep your spirits lifted and bright. Give and get some encouragement for your mutual plans, dreams and goals. Be a coach to one another and help one another be the best you can be! 5. Eat and sleep right for your body type; So, I mention "for your body type" because "eating right" and "sleeping right" does not mean the same thing for every person. According to the wisdom of Ayurveda, we all have a different constitutional makeup that dictates how much sleep we might need and the type of food that is supportive to our good health and well being. But you don't have to be an expert in Ayurveda to eat and sleep right. You can simply start by observing how the various types of food you put into your body make you feel. What is the best portion size to help you feel fulfilled but not bloated? When is the best time of day for you to eat your meals, and do you need two, three or four meals to feel satisfied? What is the right balance of carbs, protein, veggies and fruit, and dairy that helps you feel energized not foggy and depleted? Similarly, how much sleep do you need to feel good? Do you need the same amount of sleep every day, do you (sometimes) need a power nap (like I do) to reset? What kind of environment and bedtime rituals help set the foundation for your highest quality sleep experience? To summarize: By mindfully addressing these 5 areas of well being on a regular basis, and especially when I am feeling down, I manage to slip out of the winter blues soon after succumbing to them. In case you find you have fallen off the wagon of maintaining good lifestyle habits that help keep the winter blues away, isn't it high time you got back on? It just takes a decisive moment to pick yourself back up again. And if you simply can't find the will or strength to do this on your own, you know where you can come to get the support needed to get yourself back on track. It would be my pleasure to do this together with you! Wishing you all light, peace, health and happiness from Hvar, Evening Marie

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