I’ve done right well this winter, but my motivation started finally freezing this month. And it’s usually too cold for the salt to work. When I was growing up, my mom always told me, “If you’re feeling it, someone else probably is too.” So today I thought I would give us all (me included) a little winter pep talk.
Life and health is mostly a series of many, many small decisions made every day. Here are some good February decisions.
Play feel-good music from a feel-good time in your life.
“The past which is not recoverable in any other way is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity. . . ” — Oliver Sacks, Neurologist
Musical memory is powerful. Several years ago I watched a video on Facebook about the power of long-remembered, beloved music on our brains. A woman named Gladys has severe Alzheimer’s dementia and does not communicate much. She is able to tap along to familiar hymns as a clinician, Naomi Feil, sings. However, when a particular song is sung, Gladys starts singing with Naomi, a real communication breakthrough. (Video)
I suggest listening to music from a happy time to help when life is tough, you need a boost, or just to feel good daily. Research shows that listening to long-known music activates memories about oneself and emotional responses related to those memories. Specifically in one research study, “Exposure to long-known music preferentially activated brain regions including the medial prefrontal cortex, precuneus, anterior insula, basal ganglia, hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebellum relative to recently-heard music. These areas are involved in autobiographical memory and associated emotional responses.” (Thaut et al, 2020)
February is a hard winter month! Play music. Play it strategically! Think of eras you were happy, hopeful, and/or carefree and start dosing yourself up from songs from that time. Add movement and dance to it for even more potential benefits.
I use music apps because when I pick a song, they’re great at picking other songs from the same era. And I keep a little wireless speaker in the kitchen to connect to. Sometimes, I feel too “blah” to pick “happy” music, but I have found that if I can just get the music on, and then start moving it up the “feel-good” ladder, I can work myself up from the melancholy stuff to bright songs which rejuvenate my feeling of hopefulness and joy or even rebellious songs which offer a feeling of empowerment (which one needs for sure in February winter).
Force yourself to seek out comedy which makes you laugh.
Pick up an old Reader’s Digest and find the funny story section. Search your phone for the best stand-up comedy or hilarious bloopers. Think back on your life about scenes which always make you laugh and giggle again!
In order to genuinely laugh, different neurotransmitters HAVE to be made! It’s like a natural anti-depressant! Why not use it? Why not seek it out? You’re probably already paying your cable bill, your phone bill, and your wireless internet bill, so why not take advantage of the comedy you can find on them which can change the chemical imbalance in your brain naturally?
What makes you sincerely laugh? Go find it! I like the site called Dry Bar Comedy to find cleaner language comedy. Here’s some stuff that made me laugh too: 13 Clean, Christian Comedians Who Will Make You Laugh Right Now.
Move. Move. Move.
It’s sub-zero and you don’t even want to leave the house. Do you have stairs? Walk up and down them a set number of times. Do you have a TV or phone? Find the work out stations. Playing music? Dance! Do you have arms? Throw in a push-up today, and try two tomorrow! By the end of the month shoot for five push-ups in a row.
Force yourself to move in an intentional way for strength and cardiovascular reasons. Make it intentional. Why? Because when you start accomplishing your intentions, it feels good, and February blues start leaving!
Give yourself permission to not feel your best, be your best, or do your best.
I’m no good at taking breaks. My idea of taking a break is to unload the dishwasher. Lately, I’ve been going through the motions, not really doing anything well.
I’ve told myself, “It’s winter. Take a break.” So I might sit and read, but I feel guilty about it. So my sitting is never really therapeutic.
In order for a break to be truly effective, one must give oneself permission to really and truly set aside the expectation of themselves that anything else must be done. When I sit, I must stop looking at the kitchen, the toys on the floor, and the kids I’m letting be on technology for me to have a quiet moment.
It’s winter, and that means that physiological changes are taking place in my body which really do not want me to be active. I can’t stop being active, but I can make it permissible to really, truly, honestly rest without guilt.
Look above the horizon.
I try to look at everything in life spiritually. I know from a medical and scientific standpoint, winter is long and hard on both the body and brain. Physical ailments are hard and burdensome on a body and brain. Life’s changes and fights are hard.
But I also know that God has asked me to stop seeing with the eyes given to me in this world and to stop feeling with the physical receptors that have been given to me in this world. I’m to see with spiritual eyes and spiritual receptors, and that means that no matter what happens, God’s peace, love, and acceptance is here. I must somehow search that out even in the cold, even in the physical ailments, even in the angry world. It is natural and human that I am distracted by these worldly negative experiences, but when I can see through them and feel true peace, then I have entered God’s realm for me. It’s the free will of thought that I have been given and that for which I humbly, and falteringly, seek.
Have a great weekend! Keep making the right choices.
Good to hear you again! Agree wholeheartedly…find a verse in script that speaks to your soul and meditate on it – for me it ‘s “Be stilland know that I am God”
That’s a good tip, especially now when it feels “weird” out there (in society).
I like that verse too. Because my head keeps so busy, that’s an anchoring one.
Thank you for the above post. I’ve missed reading your posts during this interminable pandemic. Glad you are posting again. Also, If you ever wonder if anyone is out there, we are just hibernating trying not to eat all of the Doritos during the long gray slog of winter.
Laugh out loud!!! Okay! (The last line made me laugh! Wish those Doritos would be out of stock like so many other things are. Ha!)
And thanks. That means a lot. It’s a “live studio” production, so when the audience speaks, it’s reassuring.
Great suggestions. I love the song one. We crank up the tunes a lot around here. I also make us all keep going outside even if it is cold and rainy (although, I know our cold is nothing compared to yours).
No, you are so right about going outside. I know we need to do this, but this one I am not mentally at yet, despite 10 years here. It’s slippery, icy, windy, cold. But I know it’s important and do keep that as a goal to get to. 🙂 Last week it did get up to 45, and we did walk outside one day. So I pat myself on the back for that!
On the song one, I wish I had more time to write a better, more scientific post about music and memory. It’s really fascinating. The music center is preserved in Alzheimer’s dementia even though the areas around it are damaged!
Well, have a great day!
yes. I believe the music one. My mom has Alzheimer’s and she loves church music. She is most at peace with it playing. I am fascinated by memory, brains, and mental health, and nutrition. It’s one reason I enjoy your blog fo much. 😉
Good to know. Good to know.