Creating Positive Vibrations
As I get older I realize that I am not one for the bitter chilly weather. I grew up in damp, dark England, not meaning to put it down or anything, rather to prove a point to myself that I should be able to cope with the cold. However here in Pennsylvania, which, let's face it, isn't the coldest spot in the universe, I find myself feeling the occasional blues as soon as January hits. There are days when getting up in dark mornings with a slight chill in the bedroom is totally uninspiring.
Snowy weather should conjure up a romantic setting with children joyfully sledding and horses pulling bell covered sleighs through the crispy air. But the reality is slipping and sliding to get to your car. Hours shovelling your driveway of snow, only to find it covered again the next day. Wrapping up in layers of clothing to go out and overheating as soon as you hit the mall and spending hours behind drivers who go to pieces as soon as a snowy hill appears. I sound terribly negative don't I? Well I was because my pipes froze and then burst! However, that was last week. This week, I feel upbeat, happy and full of life.
It is natural to go through short periods where life feels pretty blue. These periods can last for a week, a few days or even a few hours. After that we bounce back and continue to go with the adventure of life. During those blue times, it is important to relax and understand that life does go up and down and it is normal and okay. This is also a good time to reflect on our daily activities and see if we are forgetting some areas and overdoing others. If these periods go on for longer, however, we may need to make some changes to our present lifestyle. Below are some great ways to chase away the winter blues naturally.
It is much easier to embrace a positive attitude when you are feeling strong and energetic. One of the best places to start is by taking a look at your present diet. Sugary foods, soft drinks and cold foods can make you feel more lethargic and depressed and drain your inner vitality. Animal foods, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods can create stagnation and cloudy thinking.
Begin by incorporating whole grains and vegetables into your daily diet. They release a slow, steady kind of energy, which helps to stabilize your emotions and give you lasting stamina. To generally feel stronger, try eating warming thick soups, stews and grains such as oatmeal, and fewer sugary foods, salads and raw fruits. To feel more relaxed, eat lightly cooked vegetables, brown rice salads, noodles, cous cous, quickly steamed apples, hot apple juice and fewer eggs, meat, poultry and heavy, fatty foods.
At the end of this article, I have included some recipes from my Cooklets that are especially good for developing inner strength, vitality and helping to relieve stress.
Often during the winter months we need to literally lighten up. Brighter lighting in your home can make a big difference. Creating a 'light feeling' in your house can help too. Here are some ideas that are effective and easy to implement.
Create a bright, cheerful home environment by clearing out the clutter, using bright colors and adding green plants. A water feature in the east part of your home will increase the energy associated with feeling confident, self assured and able to make things happen. Open doors and windows on a daily basis to bring in fresh air and create new energy in your home.
Most people will feel happier on a bright sunny day than a dark, damp and cold one. It is helpful to try and create a similar atmosphere at home. A real fireplace is one of the best ways to compensate for the lack of sunlight. If you have a real fire, light it regularly, if not keep candles lit when you are at home. The northeast part of your home or a room is ideal for candles. Salt lamps are also very beneficial. They add negative ions to your room, which help to create a fresh, uplifting atmosphere. They are great next to computers or in rooms with little light. I leave mine on all the time and love the soft, orange glow they create.
Add touches of bright colors, such as reds, oranges and yellows, to create a warmer atmosphere in your home. There is no need to redecorate. Instead add cheerful colors in pictures, cushions, fresh flowers and other accessories. If the color is strong enough, even a small object can still make a noticeable change to the atmosphere. Choose pictures that make you feel positive and happy about the future.
If you find you get depressed easily, try sleeping with the top of your head pointing east, southeast or south. This will align you with a sunny, bright and uplifting energy whilst you sleep. 'Up lighting' that reflects off the ceiling can help create a positive atmosphere, as this tends to stimulate a more upward flow of energy. Keep the atmosphere of your home as dry as possible. Dampness affects soft furnishings, curtains and carpets which increases the risk of a cold, damp atmosphere in your home. To avoid dampness be sure to have an effective heating system, whilst making the most of any dry, sunny days to dry fabrics outside.
Exercise can really move your energy and help clear those dull, cloudy feelings. Movement helps to improve your circulation and oxygenate your blood. Good circulation helps to dissolve those cloudy thoughts that contribute to feeling down. Stretching and gentle walking help to free up energy that is bound in the body. Exercise, sports and activities will also help you become more contracted, increase your self-esteem and help you feel more alive.
Try to scrub your skin with a hot, damp,100% cotton towel every morning to stimulate the body. Dip the middle part of the towel into hot water whilst keeping the ends dry so that you can hold it, wring out, fold it up and scrub your skin from head to toes, including your face. Repeat the process as soon as the towel is beginning to cool down. This will help you improve circulation and pick up your energy levels.
Spend time outdoors in nature. This is a wonderful way to lift your spirits, even in cold weather. The freshness of trees, grass, water and flowers, will help you to feel youthful, uplifted and re-freshed. If you live in the city, you can enjoy the benefits of local gardens and parks. The more bright light you're exposed to each morning, the better. If you get up after sunrise, go outside or sit by a large window -- even on very cold and cloudy days.
Deep breathing, hara massage and becoming grounded are important techniques to really help bring energy to the lower part of the body. When we feel stressed or depressed, our energy tends to go upwards and inwards. We feel tense in our shoulders and find it hard to 'turn off' the worries and thoughts. Thoughts are very expansive and keep going unless grounded in reality. To help prevent those blue feelings of depression, it is important to bring your energy back down into the lower body and literally keep your feet on the ground.
Deep breathing is an easy and vital way to become grounded. Practice breathing in through your nose and down into your stomach. Hold it for a few seconds and then breath out down to your feet and into the ground. Imagine roots going from your feet into the ground. Imagine being anchored to the ground. Repeat this seven times. Practice the deep breathing when you go to bed at night, whilst driving, watching TV, when stressed out or whilst relaxing. The deeper and slower your breathing the more energized your body becomes. The more peaceful you will feel too
Hara massage. A simple self-massage of the stomach is very good for your health and will bring energy into the whole digestive region. This technique helps the internal organs re-align and strengthens the abdomen area. Try this every morning after awakening. Gently press around the outside of your stomach in a clockwise motion. Repeat three times. Press gently under the right ribs and then the left. Repeat three times. Press around the outside the belly button in a clockwise motion. Repeat three times. Rub the whole stomach region in a clockwise motion ten times. Relax with your hands on your belly.
Foot Soak. Soaking your feet in hot, salted water can also help to bring your energy down and out of your head. This is a great technique if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Soak your feet in the evening for about 10 minutes. A gentle foot massage afterwards with a little oil mixed with your favorite aromatherapy oil is a great way to finish the day.
We may not be able to change events but we can change our perception of those events. For example the loss of a job could bring much better long term opportunities or the break up of a relationship might end something that was not really working and allow you to find a happier longer lasting relationship. Experiment with taking different problems in life and writing down all the possible benefits you might get from them.
Create a list of all the things you would love to have in your life. Be as free as possible. Write the list again but this time add a positive beginning. For example instead of writing, I want to be in a healthy relationship. Re-write it with the words, 'I am' in a healthy relationship. Keep the list in a drawer or somewhere safe. It is amazing how many of the things on the list start to come about.
Set a time limit for your negative feelings. Decide on a period of time each day that you will feel fed up or sad. Really feel those feelings and then let them go. Say to yourself, I am now open to new things coming my way. Every time the negative thoughts come back, acknowledge them and then choose to focus on a task or activity.
Listen to motivational tapes in your car when driving to work or going shopping. Use the time in your car for learning new skills or ways of thinking.
Take time each day to sit quietly and appreciate nature. Nature has incredible healing qualities. A few minutes of peaceful reflection can do wonders for the mind, body and spirit.
Count your blessings. Make a list of all the blessings in your life. Imagine how they make you feel and then place the feeling in your belly. These cherished memories are part of you and can be drawn upon in times of difficulty.
You can imagine you have a beautiful internal garden. It's always there. Your garden is always growing and you can create it just for you. Maybe in your garden you grow vegetables or flowers. Maybe you grow ideas. Maybe you grow your own roots. Whatever you do in it, it's always fresh and alive, and it never fails to disappoint. Because the garden is all your own, you can control it - and nobody can take it away from you. And because your garden is always growing, it's the one place you can be that's not only peaceful, but in which you can always live a fruitful, meaningful life.
Give Yourself A Treat
Take time for yourself. Journal your thoughts, take a hot bath, read a book, sit in nature or anything that makes your inner self sing with joy.
Give yourself a treat on a regular basis. Treats can be free, inexpensive or special. Think of things that would make you feel nourished. Buy flowers, a box of raspberries or spend a morning browsing in a bookshop. Treat yourself to a facial or invite a friend over for lunch.
A massage is a great way to change your mood. It helps to move your energy, increase circulation and get rid of toxins whilst relaxing your mind, body and spirit.
A Brief Summary With Some Added Extras
- Lend a Helping Hand - help out a friend, neighbor or someone less fortunate than yourself. Giving to others gets you out of your own woes and helps you feel connected.
- Be Adventurous - think about taking up a new hobby. Make sure it is something that you would love and would enhance your life not create more pressure.
- Watch funny movies - this is a great mood enhancer.
- Sing or Chant - sound helps to move your energy, increase circulation and create uplifted feelings. If you don't want anyone to hear you, sing to loud music in your car!!
- Watch your diet - include whole grains and vegetables on a daily basis.
- Create lightness in your home - use lighting, colors and images to create warmth and light.
- Exercise - run around with you kids, play sports or enjoy yoga - choose something that you love.
- Breathing - Breathe deeply to relax and release stress.
- Attitude - Count your blessings, take care of your inner garden.
- Treat - give yourself a treat on a weekly basis.
Cooking to Chase Away the Winter Blues
Vegetable Miso Soup
Sukiyaki - Friendship Dish
Greens with Ginger and Almonds
Vegetable Miso Soup
Serves: 4 people
Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes
Utensils: Medium pan with a lid
1 medium onion sliced in half moons
1 inch piece wakame rinsed and finely sliced
1 shiitake rinsed, soaked for 10 minutes and finely sliced
1 cup daikon rinsed and finely sliced
1/2 cup tofu finely diced
4-6 cups spring water
2 tablespoons barley miso diluted in a little soup stock
1-cup greens such as kale, daikon tops or collards rinsed and finely sliced
Place the water, shiitake and wakame in a pan and bring to a boil.
Add the onion and simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add the daikon and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes.
Add the diluted miso to the broth while it is still boiling.
Immediately turn the flame to very low. Add the sliced greens and cook for about 3 minutes more.
This dish is an excellent way to get high energy that is long lasting. Sukiyaki helps to open you up, so your energy flows more freely. It is nourishing and relaxing and helps to make you feel less pressured. This is a great way to serve fish for children. Sukiyaki is a complete meal in itself and makes a great lunch or simple dinner. It can also be used as a side dish for a more elaborate meal. It is served from the skillet and everyone can gather around to serve themselves.
Serves: 4-6 people
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Utensils: Cast iron skillet with lid or heavy pot with lid
1 pound white fish sliced
vegetarian option - use fried tofu sliced into squares
2 cups cooked udon noodles
1 carrot rinsed and finely sliced
2 cups Chinese cabbage rinsed and finely sliced
1 cup broccoli rinsed and cut into florets
1/2 cup string beans rinsed and halved
1/2-cup scallions rinsed sliced in half-inch pieces
1/2 cup spring water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon shoyu
1 tablespoon mirin
Warm the skillet on a medium flame for a few seconds.
Add the oil and warm for a few seconds.
Place the vegetables, fish and noodles in sections around the pot.
Add the water, shoyu and mirin. Cover with a lid and steam on a high flame for about 5 minutes.
Serve hot from the skillet.
To shallow fry the tofu, heat a small amount of sesame oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the tofu. Cover with a lid and fry on a medium flame for about 3 minutes. Turn the tofu over and fry on the other side for 3 minutes more. Remove tofu and drain.
Greens with Ginger and Almonds
Greens give us a light, bright, fresh energy. They help us to feel uplifted and re-freshed. Greens are very important for those who live in apartments or city life where there is little access to the freshness of nature. They are also good for the lungs and help to smoothly discharge excessive meat, eggs and salt from the body. The ginger in this recipe is very good for circulation.
Serves: 4 people
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Utensils: Medium pan with lid, baking sheet
1 cup collard greens rinsed and shredded
1 bunch watercress rinsed and sliced
1 cup kale rinsed and shredded
1/2 cup spring water
2 teaspoons shoyu (optional)
1 teaspoon juice from fresh grated ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped roasted almonds (optional)
Pre-heat the oven at 300 degrees. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove and finely chop. Meanwhile, place the water in a pan and add the collards, kale and watercress.
Cover with a lid and steam for about 3-5 minutes.
Remove and place on a serving dish. Mix together the shoyu and ginger juice and pour over the greens.
Add the almonds and mix gently through the greens.
Note: for ginger juice, finely grate fresh ginger and squeeze the grated ginger over a small bowl. The juice will drip into the bowl.
Steamed Green Apples
Lightly steamed apples help to relax the liver and are generally relaxing and opening.
Serves: 2 people
Preparation time: 5 minutes
1-2 organic granny smith apples
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup natural apple juice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Cut the apples in 8 slices. Remove the core.
Place the apples, sea salt and apple juice into a pan.
Cover with a lid and cook on a high flame for about 3 minutes.
Remove and serve with a little lemon juice.