Mindfulness

7 Mood Boosting Activities To Help You Beat Those Winter Blues

Photo by:  Cara Stott

Photo by: Cara Stott

Once the busyness of the holidays slows down, and the excitement from the New Year has run dry, January becomes a cold + long month.

I live in Utah, where January seems to be the longest month of the year. It’s cold and snowy with short, dark days — and I definitely feel it affecting me. I have no energy, no inspiration and no motivation by the end of the month. It’s hard to do anything that I used to do to feel good.

So, when you are feeling down and it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, here are some tips re-energizing and lifting your spirits during the long winter months.

7 mood boosting activities to help you overcome those “winter blues”:

  1. Exercise
     

    Finding time to exercise and move might just be the best way to get you through these months. Exercising gives you energy, boosts happiness, builds confidence, and improves sleep. All of which, seem to be thrown off during the winter blues.

  2. Get Outside
     

    It is so easy to become a hermit and stay indoors — especially if you don’t ski or snowboard. But getting outside, midday when the sun is highest + brightest can drastically improve mood. Whether you go for a walk, sip coffee outside for 2 minutes, or just make a point to be aware of the sun shining down, this can all boost your mood.

  3. Morning Routine
     

    Creating a morning routine gives you a reason every morning to get out of bed and start your day. Have your morning routine be very warm + comforting. Maybe it’s sipping on coffee while you write down three things you’re grateful for. Or maybe it’s bundling up in blankets as you do a five minute meditation. Just find something that you look forward to doing every morning.

  4. Focus on the Positive
     

    It’s easy to forget what good things we do have going on in our life, when we’re feeling down. To help you focus on the positive and what good is happening, everyday write down three things you’re grateful for and three good things that happened that day.

  5. Bright Environment
     

    Because it’s so dreary outside in the winter, having a bright space to live in creates a welcoming environment. To create a bright + uplifting space replace dark colors with whites + pastels, hang up string lights around your room, invest in a happy light that simulates the sun rays, or an alarm clock that simulates the sun rising.

  6. Stay Social

    Like I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to become a hermit and stay indoors all winter long. With that being said, it is just as important to make time to visit friends. Having weekly social time helps get you out of the house and breaks up your usual schedule.  

  7. Vacation
     

    If you really feel like splurging, go on a vacation. Visiting a new place and getting out of your comfort zone can significantly increase happiness. It gets you out of your everyday routine, exposes you to many new experiences and leaves you with a changed perspective + attitude. Want to take all the stress out of planning for a vacation? Join me, Monique on an amazing yoga + adventure retreat ;)

Here are a few daily activities to help you break those winter blues. By focusing your mindset on self-care and making little changes, you will soon feel your spirits lifting.

How To Avoid Holiday Stress

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I’m sure everyone agrees, the holidays are stressful AF. We are obligated to attend party, after party. We spend time with people we normally wouldn’t see. And we often break our bank buying unnecessary presents.

By the time we get to actual Christmas Day it has been so worked up in our head that we often leave feeling disappointed — like maybe we didn’t get what we were hoping for, or the gift we gave wasn’t good enough. Or maybe there is the classic family drama that breaks out after we’ve had one too many eggnog cocktails.

Whatever the reason is, the holiday season can be draining emotionally and physically. Even though, everyone’s goal is to get through it with a smile on your face.

To help you get through these crazy times and make the most of your Christmas Day,

Here are 3 tips to having a happy Christmas:

  1. Morning (or evening) meditation — Because the holidays are so demanding we often neglect our alone, or self-care, time. We usually stop doing what makes us happy because there are so many other things that need to get done. So, the morning of Christmas (or before we go to bed on Christmas Eve) before all the chaos starts, just take 1-minute to yourself. Focus on your breathing, reminding yourself of all the positive things about Christmas. This will start your day in a calm, happy tone so you don’t feel rushed, tired or overwhelmed.

  2. Let go of expectation — Perhaps the biggest buzz kill on Christmas is expectation. We build up this day for months. We put so much planning + prepping into this day that if it’s not all perfect, it doesn’t feel good enough. But the reality is, there is always more you could have done, something bigger you could have gotten, or a better gift you could have given. So go into the day knowing that somethings will go wrong but it is OKAY.

  3. Give more than you receive — I’m sure you’ve all heard before the true gift of Christmas is giving. And as cliche as that sounds, it’s real. When we focus on what we are getting, we unintentionally fall into a scarcity mindset — always feeling like we need more, and like our last gift wasn’t good enough. But when we shift our focus on the gifts we give to other people, and how happy that made them feel, we begin to share their positivity + joy.

So, this Christmas allow things to just be, stay present in your environment, and don’t worry too much about how you think things should be.

Want tips on making 2018 your best year yet, too? Click Here to register for the FREE Zen AF Webinar.

Is your life out of balance? How to know and what to do about it.

Last month, September 2017, I was travelling through Bali when my taxi driver made a very interesting comment and really got me thinking.

Photo by Nelson Nieto

Photo by Nelson Nieto

As we drove along the small, crowded streets with the dense jungle on either side there was one tall building sticking out above any trees — higher than anything else around it.

He pointed to the building and said something along the lines of, “Do you see that building? It has brought up so much conflict in our city.” After seeing the confused look on my face, he continued on. “This is the tallest building in the entire city, higher than any tree, it is not natural and its height throws our whole environment out of balance.”

He paused, and asked me, “How can we live in harmony if our environment is out of balance?”

That last statement really struck me. I am from the U.S. and everything we have pushes to be bigger, faster, better. We don’t think about keeping our world in balance, we strive to have the most or the best.

More than just our cities being out of balance in many ways, my own life is out of balance in smaller ways. I work too much, sleep too little, don’t see my friends enough, over eat and my room is a constantly cluttered. It’s no wonder I feel so overwhelmed, stressed and out-of-balance when the world I am living in is not in balance either.  

Have you heard of work life balance? Most Americans, including myself, are constantly trying to find a balancing point between work and play. We are expected to do the most, because if we don’t someone else will. Competition is bred into our society and we think we’ll feel happier when we have more, but that only leaves us exhausted, run-down and still craving more.

The key to finding balance is to understand what you need to feel content. 

Here are 5 tips to help you  find balance + reduce stress in your life:

  1. Declutter - If your room is messy you’re going to feel a lot more overwhelmed because you’re living in a cluttered environment makes it more difficult to find things you’re looking for,   If something in your room does not serve a purpose nor does it bring you joy, then it’s time to let it go.  A great book about decluttering and organizing is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

  2. Develop an effective morning ritual - Waking up a little bit early and allowing yourself some quiet time to get grounded will help set a calm tone for the rest of your day. You can make your morning routine even more effective by answering these three questions:

    1. What are you grateful for? This gets your mind focused on positivity and abundance, by recognizing what you do have.

    2. What is your intention for the day? This will help keep you focused, motivated, and moving forward with your daily life. Even if you want a lazy sunday, set your intention as having a restful day and see how much easier it is to relax.

    3. What are your top three priorities today? Identify your priorities and then focus your day on getting those done.

      A great tool to getting your day started and ending your day is The Five Minute Journal. It has quick, short journal prompts designed to help you live your most productive and fulfilling day.     

  3. Get the most important thing done first - Similar to above, if you only had time to do one thing today, what would it need to be to feel productive? Get that thing done first. The activities we put off, give us the most anxiety. Likewise, if there is something you don’t want to do, do that first. By the end of the day you will feel accomplished and stress-free.

  4. Leave your work at work - This is important. How often do you come home from work and continue to think about what you need to be doing or are constantly checking your phone + emails? This can be difficult but understand that work is for work, and no where else is. It’s kind of like the idea that you only sleep in your bed, you don’t eat or read in it. To help you leave your work at home, make a list at the end of the day of what you need to do tomorrow. Creating a list will help you stop thinking about what you need to do later. Secondly, when you show up to work the next day you will know exactly what you need to do and where you need to start so you don’t waste a lot of valuable work time.

  5. Focus on one task at a time - We are living in the age of multitasking. It can be difficult but train yourself to do only one thing at a time. If you have not finished your current task at hand, don’t check your phone, facebook or emails. Set aside time in your day to look at your phone or scroll through facebook. You will find yourself a lot more focused, productive, stress-free and present with other people.

Start incorporating these 5 tips into your daily life and begin to feel more balanced and less stressed. 

Want to take these methods one step further? Sign up for our FREE GUIDE on How To Be Zen AF and receive 10 daily tips to living your most stress free and fulfilling life. 

Stay Calm, Stay Cool
Monique from Zen AF

The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Make Your Life Zen AF

Sure, you can read every self-help book on the shelf, get a gym membership, break-up with your boyfriend and move to a new city, but until you realize one thing not much in your life will change. In order to make your life Zen AF, in all areas, you must learn to take responsibility and accountability for your life.

Taking responsibility and accountability for your life means that you own up to mistakes, fight challenges head on, and show up for yourself. You understand that power is in your hands, and if you don’t like something, you take responsibility and change it.  

 
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Yes, some people are dealt not-so-great hands, but it is entirely up to you to create the life you want. There will be obstacles, things will get in the way, and at times it will seem impossible, but understanding the power you do have in your own life will lead to huge changes in happiness, fulfillment and meaning.

Learning to take responsibility + accountability for your life simply means that you understand the role you play in your happiness. It means no longer being the victim and no longer playing the blame game. When faced with an obstacle, you don’t let it defeat you. Instead, you ask yourself, “how can this move me forward?” or “how can I fix this?”.

Developing this attitude and taking responsibility for your happiness, puts you in control of your life. It allows you to decide what your life looks like and gives you the power to make those changes.   

So, how can you start taking accountability + responsibility for your life today? What small change can you make to put yourself in control, regain your happiness and make your life zen af?