Our mental health requires care and attention, just like our physical health.
Attempting to find tools to support our mental wellness can feel overwhelming and difficult, especially in the winter.
A part of this struggle comes from the belief that the solutions to feeling better must reside outside of ourselves. For example, we may convince ourselves that we are just one self-help book away from better mental health.
What if the answers you are searching for are already within you? One free and easy way to support your mind and improve your mood is by embracing curiosity.
Consider how your mood can feel lower, or worse, in the winter. Your mind spins with thoughts about the inconveniences of the season: the frigid cold, short days, less sunshine. Feelings then pop up: tired, impatient, annoyed. All these judgements and feelings can lead to thoughts like: “Winter sure makes life harder. Why can’t it be spring?’
A reality we must accept, however, is that these are all judgements being made by our minds about our external environment. At the end of the day, we have absolutely no control over winter. If we make the decision to accept winter as it is, then we no longer rally against it. The removal of this judgement can decrease stress and lead to an improved sense of wellbeing.
Of course, there are stressors and challenges that impact our moods as well. These factors are unique and different for people, as they are unavoidable. While we can’t get away from them, we can change how we see them.
By shifting our views about the circumstances that we have no power to change, we can limit their power over us and our minds. This is because shifting our thinking is something we have the power to change.
I believe that curiosity can be used to fend off the judgements of the mind. When we choose curiosity over judgement, our brains shift from a place of fear to a place of wonder. Studies have found that being curious may be a protective factor against anxiety and depression. Additionally, being curious is associated with mental well-being and improved cognitive function.
When we are coming from a place of curiosity, we embrace the possibility of having new information to take in. This is both humbling and empowering. New learning leads to personal development and growth. It can also improve our relationships. If we are curious about people, then we are more likely to increase our connections with them, over time.
Here are some examples of ways you can incorporate curiosity into everyday life: read and research new topics. Ask thought provoking questions in conversations. Engage in a new activity you have always wanted to try out. Embrace being a beginner. Seek out learning from other people. Get curious about being curious!
One of the ways I embrace curiosity is by learning about completely new subjects. A few years ago, I went to the library with a mission to find a book on a topic I knew nothing about. It was through the lens of curiosity that I came across a book about hygge (pronounced hoo-ga). Hygge is from Danish culture and means “taking time away from the daily rush to be together with loved ones – or by yourself – to relax and enjoy life’s quieter pleasures.”
Hygge provides a different way of viewing winter. Instead of focusing on how cold it is outside, the focus is on the cozy feelings we have indoors engaging in activities such as listening to music, drinking warm delicious beverages, playing board games or reading a good book.
Being curious led me to learn about hygge, which paved the way to appreciate life’s simple pleasures during the winter.
I wonder, what incredible discoveries will your curiosity lead to?
For more information about any of the free services offered by the Minto-Mapleton Family Health Team, visit www.mmfht.ca or call the Drayton/Palmerston office at 519-638-2110 or Clifford office at 519-327-4777.
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