Spring has sprung and with it comes a sense of hope–not wishful thinking, but knowing that flowers will bloom, grass will turn green, and changes can happen. We don’t know exactly what those changes might look like or when they will take place, but there’s a renewed sense that it’s possible. This is an example of how our thoughts can impact how we feel.
Our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors color our experience of everyday life. It would be nice if we could change our emotions as easily as changing the TV channel, but we can’t. What we can do is adjust our thoughts and our behaviors, and they in turn change how we feel. This works in both directions–the negative tends to happen almost automatically, while the positive takes a little more effort. After first becoming more mindful of our thoughts and behaviors, we can then choose to think or behave differently, thereby changing how we feel.
Changes you can make today. Since it is spring and the weather is improving, I’d like to focus on changing some behaviors to take advantage of the nice days. The #1 thing you can do for stress and all kinds of negative moods is to go for a walk.
The benefits of walking are endless, but I’ll list a few: getting out of the house/workplace/stressful situation, breathing in fresh air loaded with refreshing oxygen, using large muscle groups to improve circulation and get that oxygen to your brain, which leads to clearer thinking and improved ability to make healthy choices and decisions. If you add to your walk by mindfully focusing on the things you see in nature, you give your mind an additional break from thinking about your stressors.
Another way to enjoy the outdoors is to simply sit outside, perhaps with a refreshing iced tea or comforting cup of coffee. Pull up your sleeves to get a little extra benefit from the sun. More studies are showing that the majority of us (especially those who live in the northern ⅔ of the US) are quite deficient in Vitamin D. The warmth itself is also refreshing. Make sure you’re not taking any medications that make you sun-sensitive (instant sunburn!). Again, mindfully focus on the natural world to enhance mental break.
It can also help to open your windows and let the outdoors in. This helps sweep away staleness, bacteria, and viruses that gather in closed up spaces during the cold weather. Again, the theme here is refreshment.
What are some other areas in your life that need to be refreshed? Stop for a minute to consider ways to do that as well.
If you’d like to talk more about a particular issue, I would be happy to meet with you personally. Just give me a call at 636-234-0035 and we’ll schedule a time to talk. My office is conveniently located in downtown Washington Missouri across from the Old Dutch Restaurant.
I look forward to helping you feel better!
Katie Walker, Licensed Professional Counselor