If you’re anything like me, it can be far too easy to slip into an attitude of despondency during the cold, gray winter months. Sometimes, without even realizing it, you suddenly struggle to find inspiration in things that once energized you, or maybe you’re having a hard time keeping the house tidy when before it would always come a little more naturally. No matter what it is, you may have noticed that you just don’t feel as light on your feet as normal — if you can relate to any of these feelings, I can confidently say you’re not alone, which might offer a little bit of comfort.
I’ve compiled a list of “seven mindful ways to have seven mindful days,” in an effort to help you cultivate more mindfulness in your day to day. The goal is to break away from the depressing thoughts and re-embrace mindfulness, thankfulness, and general positivity in your everyday life.
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Day 1: Organize Your Space
Clutter can be a huge source of stress. A messy room can bombard your thoughts, distract you, and lead to exhaustion simply by being in your home.
Because of this, start off your week by reclaiming your spaces. Go through your belongings with a minimalist attitude, seeking out those ways to cultivate mindfulness even in the dark corners of the closet or around your office space. Look for things that provide value and intentionality — whether it’s your grandma’s wedding ring or a wooden ladle for soup. If it has a value, great! Everything else must go.
Once you’ve sorted through the clutter, make sure the items that are left each have their proper place. If you don’t have a good place to keep things organized, get a dresser, a cabinet, or even transform a locker into a trendy storage option, but ensure all things come with intention.
Day 2: Organize Your Mind
Once you’ve organized your spaces, it’s time to work on your mind. Winter has a way of dampening even the cheeriest of spirits — I should know. I deal with seasonal depression each fall and winter, and I’ve come to learn an interesting thing about this far too common annual bout of seasonal discouragement: you can fight it and you can win.
If you’re feeling scattered, one way to create a more positive, mindful attitude is to look for any cognitive distortions you may be struggling with. Are you reasoning with your emotions? Are you catastrophizing problems? Are you using all-or-nothing thinking?
If you’re having trouble focusing in enough to identify any mental filters you may be struggling with, consider doing the unplugging challenge to help you reclaim your brain. Select a reasonable amount of time and then turn off your smartphone, disconnect from your laptop, and just live in the moment for a few hours or even a day or two.
Day 3: Organize Your Schedule
With your space in order and your mind back on track, there’s one more organizational element that must be tended to: your schedule. This is especially important around the holidays. If you find that you’re suffering from a busy day after a busy day, it’s time to take back the reins.
Something simple, like setting up a mindful morning routine can help you slow down and appreciate where you are each and every day. A few things to consider with a routine of this nature include:
- Ask yourself how you’re feeling each day and then taking the time to give your body and mind a chance to respond.
- Spend time in meditation and prayer.
- Practice mindfulness as you go through the humdrum daily routines — e.g. brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and so on.
If your mornings aren’t conducive, another option is to take this mindful approach with your bedtime — or even setting up both morning and evening routines. The more you can work times for mindfulness into your daily schedule, the better off you’ll be.
Day 4: Practice Some Self-Care
Once you get to the fourth day, you should be starting to recognize a bit more order — and, by extension, peace — in your life. At this point, I recommend you take some time to indulge in a little self-care. A few suggestions include:
- Letting yourself sleep in (or go to bed early).
- Taking a bath.
- Going for a peaceful walk in nature to spark those dormant creative thoughts.
- Partake in a yoga or meditation session, either alone or with a group.
- Brew a warm cup of tea and enjoy it in mindful silence.
Day 5: Help Someone Out
While self-care has its place in the fight for mindfulness, it’s essential that you also take time for others. Start by spending this day looking for someone that needs your help.
This could be working alongside your child as they struggle with their homework, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or visiting a relative in a nursing home. Even if there is no one in need of obvious help that you can find, even just reaching out to an old friend, a family member, or someone in the community who may need a little warmth in their day can be beneficial to the both of you!
Day 6: Recharge Your Social Battery
Along with helping others, I recommend spending time socializing with your peers as well. There’s nothing like a few hours spent with close family and friends to help recharge your social battery and bring your mind back into the here and now.
Put on a tea party, host a movie night, or invite friends over to play some games. However you go about it, I suggest you find a way to plan in some quality time with others.
Day 7: Have a Happy Hygge Evening
Finally, finish off your mindful week with a happy hygge evening. Hygge is one of my favorite cultural traditions — the untranslatable Danish term focuses on things like coziness and comfort. In other words, good, wholesome, happy things.
Spend this evening by a warm fire wrapped in a blanket, sipping some mulled cider. Invite friends over to chat, read a good book, or doze off into blissful sleep. Whatever you do, make sure to slow down and be mindful of each moment, thankful for every breath, and aware of the simple fact that you’re alive.
While you don’t have to specifically spend seven days going about rediscovering your mindfulness, setting up little daily goals in an effort to cultivate a more mindful week can be a great way to help you get back on track.
From helping others to recharging your social battery, organizing your spaces, and participating in a little hygge, there are many different ways to shake off the apathy, reject that depression, and veer into a mindfulness lifestyle during the cold winter months. Good luck!