Gray got you down?

Florida a.k.a “The Sunshine State” is polar opposites from Sweden.  Sunny days are the norm, which make an occasional gray and rainy day somewhat welcomed. A major adjustment here in Sweden, has been the gray weather. The cold is not too bad, proper clothes solve that problem. But there is little you can do about the gray weather. This was something we were warned about, and I scoffed at it, thinking, could it really be that bad?

Turns out it can be, it has been admittedly hard to adjust to countless gray and rainy days, especially when we are not yet on a regular schedule with jobs and social activities. However, there are ways to fight the gray and hold at bay those feelings of boredom, sadness, or even depression.

Be Positive:  Positive thought is a 100 times more powerful than negative thought. This may sound cliché but there is truth behind it, keeping a positive outlook can change your mood in an instant. There have been many studies that show how your thoughts shape your brain. In an article written by Steve Parton, he does into great detail.  In short your brain is a collection of synapses separated by empty space.  When you have a thought one synapse shoots a chemical across the empty space to another synapse, thus building a bridge an electric signal can cross over, sending the information over you are thinking about.  Every time this electrical charge is triggered the synapses grow closer together,  literally changing the shape of your brain.  But why does this matter?

Parton says, “The exciting and fascinating thing is that the synapses you’ve most strongly bonded together (by thinking about more frequently) come to represent your default personality: your intelligence, skills, aptitudes, and most easily accessible thoughts (which are more-or-less the source of your conversation skills).”  I found this to be quite amazing.  So think positive, even when it is really hard . There is always some good to pull out of your day, even if it is small. In doing so you are changing your brain to make these positive thoughts more accessible. Think about the impact here…over time, it will be easier and easier to access these thoughts, making positive thinking more second nature than forced.

Here are some simple ways to cultivate positive thoughts:

  1. Do something for yourself, such as going out for a walk or having a hot cup of coffee with your favorite pastry.
  2. Do something nice for someone else, making someone smile is always a good feeling for both.
  3. Listen to uplifting music.  Music is a powerful tool and with services like Spotify you can generate a playlist for every mood.
  4. Exercise or stretch, this has many benefits, and changing your mood is only one of them.
  5. Even on days you have no where to go, get up and get dressed. When you look good you feel good.
  6. Meditate – this is a tough one, but even if not perfectly executed it is highly beneficial to your mind and soul.

Stay Productive:  This may be easier for some, as you may have a normal job that you get up for each day, and complete your daily assigned tasks.  However, even for those of you in a normal work pattern that does not mean you are immune to this “gray weather funk” especially for those living in Sweden,  or neighboring countries it can be difficult to get up in the dark and come home in the dark, and thus making it harder to be productive when you are at home, or even when you are at your job.

Whatever your position in life, staying productive is important and can play a large role in your overall mood.  This one is a bit more simple than cultivating positive thoughts, however, that being said, one can lead to the other, and here is why.  To stay productive an easy way for me, is get up and intentionally set out to do something, anything, just make a goal. Try to make a physical list for the day.  It can be as simple as doing your laundry or general household chores, going for a walk, spending 30 minutes reading, meditating, or exercising.  Whatever you choose, make it a goal.  When you check off that list, it feels great and you gain a sense of accomplishment.  Achieving small daily goals also help promote positive thinking.

Put these two things together and you have the right recipe to combat the overwhelming gray days here.  That is not to say even when you do this, the gray won’t win on a few days here and there, we are all human and subject to having “one of those days”. But as mentioned in Patron’s article, the more you bond together those positive thoughts, and make those thoughts more accessible, the further away those negative thoughts go.

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