Winter is coming and those of us who are sensitive to the weather changes will find that it affects our mood for the worse. You may already know that happier thoughts make a happier you - however, when it comes to positive thinking advice, most people will say "Just be positive!" or "Think positive thoughts!" This is useless advice and perhaps even more frustrating to receive it, putting us more in a deeper rut we started in.
As a Health Coach, I have had my share of funks. Dealing with hip tendonitis, sleep deprivation, and stressful work times will do that to you. Here are some magical tips to keep your spirits up and stress at bay as we approach the season of stress, cold and darkness.
Conjure your Patronus
In Harry Potter, the wraith-like creatures called dementors suck out all happiness and you feel like you'll never be happy again. You may have dementors in your life such as mean people, a frustrating job, or the feeling that you're not enough, that drain your happiness too.
You can use the Patronus charm when dealing with your dementors. To defend yourself, think of a single happiest memory and the spell would produce a happy feeling that would chase away the despair. Now, this is a skill because it can be difficult to think of happy times when we are sad or angry. Especially when we are our own dementors! But it is the best time to conjure those memories because just as our energy comes from what we eat, our energy also comes from what we think.
One of my happiest memories was when after living in a filthy apartment with an incompatible roommate, I found a beautiful apartment in my dream neighborhood. It was around the same time when I landed my first health coaching job in New York City for a company with a great reputation. I felt like I made a breakthrough after months of struggling and frustrated that things weren't getting any better. Whatever rut I'm going through, this memory leaves me feeling better about myself and life in general.
Now, it's your turn. What is your happiest memory? How did you feel back then? Really put yourself back in that time and relive it and you'll immediately begin to feel the benefits of this charm. The more you practice, the easier it gets!
Place your thoughts in your pensieve
Sometimes, our head is so full of swirling thoughts, distractions, and non-helpful information that life feels unclear, uncertain, and frustrating. These thoughts may even have dementor-like qualities that suck the happiness out of you.
In times like these, we want to literally place our thoughts aside. As you may know, the pensieve was a tool in which extracted thoughts can be placed to clear the mind. You can do this too! Your pensieve can be something as simple as a journal in which you freely write the thoughts that have been bothering you. If you'd like to take it a step further, you can also "talk back" to your own thoughts and write those responses down too. There's therapeutic value to writing it physically down and seeing it on paper, because the thoughts are now no longer in your head!
Stick to whom you love
Professor Snape gets credit on this one. Never mind his sticky ending - it didn't matter to him because the love of his life was his purpose, his reason to live, and guided all his actions till the very end. Sure, Snape wasn't the happiest guy, but he is a reminder that surrounding ourselves with whom we feel loved is super important to keeping your spirits up during stressful times. Sometimes, your mind can trick you to think that no one cares about or appreciates you - but by reaching out more to those you love, it can really lift you up. Whether it's family, a romantic partner, or friends, keep your loved ones close to you or reach out to them in times of need to remind you that you're not alone (and neither are they!).
By using the Patronus charm, placing your thoughts in your pensieve, and surrounding yourself with love, you have a basic tool kit to beat the blues, anytime, anywhere.
Catherine Chen, Ph.D., Health Coach is passionate about supporting high-achievers to find time and energy to focus on their personal lives while rocking out in their careers. Prior to working at In Your Corner, Catherine graduated from Yale University with a degree in Pharmacology and has worked in the management consulting, biotechnology, and wellness industries in New York City and San Francisco. She is also passionate about French culture. And wontons. Seriously, they're delicious! Outside of work and wontons, Catherine is a fan of Amy Schumer, bellydancing, and singing for no apparent reason. If you're overworked, stressed, or looking to transition to a new career, reach out to Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for weekly tips at www.achievewitheasenow.com (it's free!).