‘Tis the season! Winter is upon us and as usual, the hectic holiday season can easily overwhelm our executive functioning.
Unless you are someone who sighs with relief when the rain returns (or you live in a place with perpetual sunshine), it is so easy to slide into a sluggish mindset and thus everything becomes more difficult to do.
For me, the increasingly darker, shorter days of winter can negatively impact my energy and enthusiasm. But did you know that we are biologically programmed this way? As mammals, we are designed to slow down during the winter months when, evolutionarily speaking, access to food drops and the body must conserve body fat to survive the winter.
Well, around my house I am certainly not at risk for a lack of calories, especially with all of the holiday feasting and baking! But I still need to deal with the weather…and the darkness…and all of the to-dos. Oh my!
I typically eat my breakfast listening to my local classical music station: AllClassical.org. The morning playlists gently pump up the dopamine in my brain, but my truly favorite part of the morning show, at 8 AM, is when the host, Warren Black, gives the weather report.
It is not a prediction of the highs and lows of the day, or the current temperature. It is more a general report of how the weather from his window in the station overlooking the Willamette River. And he definitely tosses in personal preferences. For instance, he’s not a fan of temps over 70 degrees. And he seems almost cheerful when reporting fog and spitting rain.
But here’s the best part. He wraps up by encouraging you to stay hydrated, and always concludes with this nugget of wisdom:
“No matter what the outside weather I hope you can adjust your internal weather to be as sunny as you want.”
It’s that last line that always makes me break into a smile and a quiet giggle. That smile translates quickly to dopamine in my brain, so I do end up ramping up my internal sunshine. It’s delightful. A true reminder that we have the ability to check in with ourselves and work on developing a positive mindset.
In addition to mindset awareness, it helps to know and prepare for what is coming around the bend. This allows the brain to adapt more deftly when holiday stress begins to hit.
In addition to setting your internal weather each morning, here’s a list of things to support your brain through the holiday season:
Take a deep breath. Adjust your internal weather every day and may you have the best holiday season possible!
Marydee and the Team at EFS
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.