3 practical ways to reverse the holiday blues | #RTYBtips Episode 7
Aloha and welcome back to the Retrain Your Brain series! With the the holidays upon us, I thought today would be the perfect time to teach you three practical ways to reverse your holiday blues. The first two tips are exercises that you do over an extended period of time (anywhere from days to months), and the last one is a much more immediate mood-reversal trick.
1) Use a Mood Tracker
A mood tracker is a creative way to track your mood and identify how it might be changing. You will create your mood tracker for the amount of days you want to track (for me that is one month such as December, January, February, etc). Each day in your tracker is represented as a blank space. You can get as creative as you want here by making your mood tracker something like a flower, leaves, or just simple squares.
Once you create your blank tracker, you need to create a colour key where each colour represents a different mood or emotion. You could have red for angry, blue for sad, yellow for happy, orange for content, etc..
At the end of each day, you reflect on what your mood was like, and colour in the blank space accordingly. At the end of the month, you’ll have a fully coloured-in mood tracker. What I used to do at this point (I say “used to” because I no longer use mood trackers and I’ll tell you why in a moment) is look at my mood each day, then look at my calendar to see what I was doing that day and therefore try to identify why my mood might’ve been the way it was.
If you want to create your own mood tracker, you can look up templates on any search engine (I personally love searching on Pinterest and Instagram) or you can download the template I created for you below.
I mentioned I no longer use a mood tracker, let me tell you why:
- They are a very simplistic way of tracking your mood (I find mine sometimes fluctuated throughout the day, instead of staying the same the whole day.
- It is an inaccurate and limited way of tracking your mood. This means, you might feel a mood one day that you didn’t create on the key; because you only have a key of 4 specific moods, you’re more likely to identify your mood as something similar, instead of exactly what you feel.
- They show you the what, but not necessarily the why. This could be pro if, for example, you think you are sad most days. But according to your mood tracker, you are not sad most days and it turns out you placed more emphasis on the days you were sad. But if you want to figured out why you were sad, it’s not always likely you have this reasoning in your calendar. But, a place you can have the reasoning is a journal.
Journaling is the practice of recording your unfiltered thoughts. As opposed to a limited mood tracker, a journal entry can include everything you feel and why you feel it.
If you’re not into the idea of journaling, I’ll argue that we journal all the time without knowing it. Think about your Facebook posts, Instagram captions, and 1-on-1 honest conversations you have with friends; these forms of expression are similar to journaling expect they have filters. With online posts, you may filter based on who will see the post and the fact that it may be taken out of context. Or you may filter to get attention. The same type of filtering occurs when you talk to friends – you may filter your words because you don’t want them to be interpreted wrong and / or you don’t want to be judged. That said, I encourage you to get a lined notebook and a pencil, and start writing down your thoughts unfiltered. Do it in the morning, in the evening, or on your lunch break at work. I found writing down the way I feel has helped me figure out why I felt that way, and therefore helped me reverse those feelings if they were negative. If the feelings were positive, I was therefore able to figure out how to make the reason for feeling positive, re-occur so I could be positive in the future.
When you journal, you have an unedited conversation with yourself. And the fact that your thoughts are recorded into words allows you to review the conversation at a later time with an objective eye. I highly recommend this method for reversing your holiday blues.
3) Citrus Essential Oils
The last way you can reverse your holiday blues is much more instant than the previous 2 tips. All it involves is adding a citrus essential oil onto your temples or wrists whenever you feel blue. When you buy essential oils, please make sure they are coming from a reputable source – remember just because something is inexpensive, that does not mean it is good for you.
I have a citrus roller ball from Saje called Quick Study; I roll this on my wrists in the mornings when I need a mental pick-me-up. And I also like to drink citrus tea some mornings I feel my mood is low. The tea is called Wild Sweet Orange by Tazo. And in my opinion, no essential oil smells better than cracking open a citrus fruit like a clementine, an oranges, or a grapefruit from the grocery store.
I did some research as to why the smell of citrus can have a positive affect on your mood. I found a 2012 research study that found an increase in emotional arousal and response times after being exposed to citrus odor, but this study was unable to identify why this happened. I found another publication from 2016 that said the reason citrus has a positive affect on our mood is simply because people tend to judge the smell of citrus as positive. A change in mood has nothing to do with the odor itself. If you know of any other research on citrus odor and mood, send it my way by by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Citrus Research”.
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.