H.A.P.P.Y. CHEAT SHEET download here
For much of the northern hemisphere, February is smack dab in the dregs of winter. *raise your hands if that's you* Even though we're close-ish to March, we know winter weather is not going away any time soon.
While we might try to enjoy our winter wonderland, sledding is really only appealing until January and then we want to wear shorts and canvas sneakers. I get it.
A former midwesterner myself, I know how looooong winter can be!
In Ayurvedic terms, S.A.D. happens when we are surrounded by cold, dry air, lack of light, too much time spent indoors, and lack of "green" nature around us —we get depressed! It's an overall lack of prana (life force! life energy!). Because we are governed by nature around us, when that nature is lifeless, we often feel the same.
BUT we can invigorate and delight the five senses which will help us feel better. In Ayurveda, healing is delivered through the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste smell), so while the outdoors and overall nature is lifeless, we can bring life IN through our five senses and begin to revive our mood.
H = HEAT. Bring in the heat, by getting some sun on your face in the outdoors or by planning a warm get away in February, March or April. Other ways to bring in the heat include fireplaces, candles, saunas, steam rooms! The bonus about fireplaces and candles is that it's not just warmth (sense of touch) but it provides natural light which balances out winter darkness.
Btw, this is life, use your vacation time and run to the sun!
Heat calms the sense of touch and is balancing for vata.
A = AROMATHERAPY. Load up the diffuser daily or drop essential oils on your wrists or drop on the floor of your shower and steam up the bathroom, creating a little spa experience! Use a few times a day if you want — there are no rules (that I'm aware of). Choose any scent that makes you happy. Here are some ideas: lavender, sandalwood, patchouli, frankincense, jasmine, gardenia, grapefruit, ylang ylang. Or take yourself on a "field trip" to any store that has a bunch of essential oils and sniff away. Choose a scent or blend that you really love — and then use it all the time :)
The sense of smell enlivens and pleases the mind and is balancing for kapha.
P = PLAY. Whether exercise or music, enliven your body and your daily experience with play time! Move your body long enough every day to create a little sweat and warm you up (heat!). Make it FUN! Dance, zumba, yoga, skip, power walk with your dog. Whatever it is, make it fun.
And don't forget the music! Music creates the mood. Give yourself a positive, happy, dancey boost with a great playlist, like this one I made.
You get extra points if you play fun music while exercising :)
P = PRETTY. You need nice things to look at! And if you can bring nature inside, even better. Make it a point to pick up some beautiful flowers (bonus if they smell nice!) and/or indoor pots to perk up your space. Bulbs like paperwhites, hyacinths, or tulips are lovely indoors and are fun to watch them grow, too. You could also add some pizazz with a new throw pillow or two to splash of color and vibrancy to your space.
When our eyes see beauty, our mind gets happy. Pleasing sights are balancing for pitta.
Y = YUMMY. Choose all the yummy foods that enhance your mood! There are certain foods that I call "mood foods" and these promote a sattvic mind (a harmonious, peaceful mind). When we have a sattvic mind, we can't be sad! We will be calm, patient, optimistic and joyful. When Ayurveda talks about mind-body-spirit all connected, this is a prime example of how the foods we choose directly affect our mind.
Sattvic foods that enhance the mood and peace in the mind are from nature (cause, prana!) and include fresh fruits, fresh veggies, grains, ghee, oils, nuts, honey. If you have those types of foods more often, your mind will feel light, clear and optimistic and peaceful.
I hope this helped you!
We'll keep bringing Ayurveda to life!