Last week I discussed the process of change. This week I am going to discuss how to put change into action, including how to help prepare for winter psychologically.
Define what you are looking to change. In order to do so, we need to define what we want in measureable terms. For example if you want to feel happier, what does being happier look like? What has happy looked like in your life? What were you doing differently at a happier time in your life? What do happy people do that is different from what you are currently doing? For some people this means socializing more often, getting more of their to do list accomplished, exercise, hobbies, sleeping less/more etc. It is important to create a list of what you want to accomplish, so that you know what changes you would like to make. A goal to be happier sounds overwhelming and confusing. A goal to talk to friends 3 times a week instead of 1 looks attainable.
Start small to ensure success. Make a goal for the week that you know that you can obtain. If you are not currently exercising a goal to exercise 3 times a week may be too much, a 10-20 minute walk may be more realistic and can work as a stepping-stone to getting to that eventual 3 times a week goal. I often recommend that people break down goals to good, ok and bad day form. This way we are gentle with ourselves. It is not fair to expect the same type of performance on bad days as great days. On the days you feel like you can do more, do more on days you feel like doing anything is hard, do just a little.
Keep track! I cannot emphasize this part enough. Our brains are wired to remember negatives. This is a defense mechanism built in to keep us safe. Unfortunately, it also means we have a harder time remembering the positives. Fortunately, when we keep track of our accomplishments it makes it easier to see how far we have come, and holds us more accountable.
How does this apple to the looming winter? The same process used for change can be used to set goals to increase happiness or stave off depression in the winter. Define your goals, start small and keep track and give yourself credit for success.Take the time today to start making a plan to make your winter more enjoyable. If you put your plan in place before you start to feel down, you can avoid or lessen the winter blues. Next week more on things you can do to prepare for winter.