Exercise is just the start of it. Here, our columnist outlines all the ways to make the most of great weather—and it all starts in your head.
BY HEATHER QUINLAN
The month of March sparks a sense of renewal and starts the countdown to summer. The vernal equinox on March 20th marks the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere—the point in the year when the sun is positioned above the equator and day and night are about equal in length all over the world. With the shorter, darker days of winter in the rearview, color starts to return to the landscape; plants begin to wake up and warmer temperatures and sunshine begin to recharge your body’s battery. Your body is finally getting some juice after being on low power mode since the holidays.
The key is to keep that initial burst of energy and optimism burning for the rest of the year. The key is perspective. In holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he writes “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” What you perceive through your own eyes is your life. Just as you would train your muscles over and over to see physical results, the same kind of repetition can keep your mind in shape.
Recent studies on happiness depart from older thinking about delving into your past and rediscovering the negative parts of your life so you can get over them. Instead, the new psychology of happiness focuses on the future of your life and how to move forward without necessitating a fight with the demons in your closet. A Harvard University course called Positive Psychology is now one of the most popular courses ever offered there.
So, how do you become your own writer, producer and director of your life story?
Start with the relationships in your life. Connect with your loved ones, and not through social media. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or make a plan to catch up with someone over coffee. Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Consider that. It might be time to move out of your comfort zone.
Perform acts of kindness. Pay it forward. Volunteer if you can. If you are short on time, pay for the person’s order behind you the next time you are at a drive thru. Or the next time someone cuts you off on the road, wave instead of flipping the person off. Your blood pressure will love you.
Exercise. Exercise gives you a natural high you cannot buy. Unlike alcohol, no one ever woke up the next day and wished they hadn’t exercised the day before. Dopamine releases alleviates stress and tension in your body, which can lead to a host of other ailments.
Hobby. Find a hobby that allows your mind to disconnect from the mundane to do list of everyday. Do a jigsaw puzzle, repaint a room in your house, start gardening. Whatever spurs your creative juices, make time to do it.
Above all, maintain a positive mindset. Life is full of ups and downs. Its been that way since the dawn of time. Change is the one thing in life we can count on, good or bad. Become aware of your self talk because your body is listening. If you are feeling down in the dumps say out loud to yourself in the mirror “ You are great” no matter how silly and uncomfortable it feels. If you’re sad, just try smiling. The human psyche is incredible resilient. Use that to your advantage. It’s a new season and the time for positive change is now. Nature wants you to be happy right now. You just have to accept it.
Heather Quinlan is a certified Bikram Yoga instructor and a health and wellness coach. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org