February 3, 2012

**Note: You really should click on the photo. Only a small portion shows on the screen, and viewing the image in its entirety is much more enjoyable. Just a little tip for you!**

Does anyone else think that it can be easy to start feeling a bit stagnant and dull by the time February rolls around in Minnesota? This winter has been much more mellow than most (probably the only perk of global warming), but we still have a long way to go before we’ll see leaves on the trees and feel green blades of grass under our toes. It is not uncommon for people to be feeling rather uninspired or even depressed at this time of year.

Moving along through the changing seasons can serve as a reminder that there are seasons in our lives as well. Winter represents those periods of life where we may feel dormant, almost like the joy of living seems to have vanished. It is during these times that we can learn to rest, restore, and rejuvenate ourselves to enable the next season to arrive. One way to do this is to tap into the wisdom of what we are experiencing in any given moment. This can pertain to noticing our own emotional state and using that information to guide us. It can also involve attending deliberately to our relationships with others, and making intentional changes based on our observations.

Being mindful of your experience right now can help you become newly aware of a different and healthier perspective. The valuable information you will discover by attending to your life in a deliberate way can bring moments of clarity and peace even during a season of struggle. We all need time to refresh.

Refresh your emotions

Refresh yourself by tuning in to the present moment. Are you feeling weary? Lonely? Agitated or overwhelmed? So often we are mindlessly plodding along trying to get to the next task, and are ignoring our experience from moment to moment.  Our feelings serve as clues about what we need. If you aren’t aware of what you are feeling right now, it is unlikely that you will take steps that will move you toward greater contentment and peace.

For example, as you are sitting there at your computer, take a second or two to “check in” with yourself. Maybe you find yourself feeling a bit agitated or anxious, but you weren’t actively aware of it before. You can use this information to do something that you know helps you relax and unwind. If, on the other hand, you find yourself feeling slightly lonely and sad when you tune in to your experience, you might think about calling a good friend or writing an email to someone you care about to just say hello. These are examples of ways that you can use your experience of the present moment to reset and refresh. Noticing how you are feeling and then skillfully responding can bring a new perspective or an experience that helps you align with the healthiest version of yourself.

Refresh your relationships

Refresh a relationship by stepping back and assessing how you experience the connection. You may bring to mind a friend, partner, family member, or even a co-worker. Explore the relationship by curiously examining different aspects of it. What does this person bring to your life? What do you bring to theirs? How often do you show them that they matter to you? Are there any attitudes that you would like shift with regard to that person? Ask yourself if there are  behaviors that you could alter that might improve the relationship. Or is it a relationship that you would be better off without? Maybe it would improve your connection to reach out to the person more often. Or perhaps when you take a new perspective, you see that this person is monopolizing your time and you need to branch out more.  When you intentionally examine the relationship, perhaps you find that it would be beneficial to extend more forgiveness toward him or her. On the other hand, maybe you have been letting too much slide without standing up for yourself. Our relationships need attention to thrive. When we approach them like we are seeing them for the first time, it gives us the chance to engage on purpose in a way that can breathe new life into a stale relationship.

View your connection with the person with fresh eyes. Instead of operating on interpersonal autopilot, take a look at the state of the relationship and make positive changes in how you interact with him or her. Usually when we alter our orientation toward someone, the course of the relationship itself is also modified. Reviving our relationships even by making minor changes can dramatically shift our overall sense of well-being.

Almost like clicking the “refresh” button on the computer screen, we can find ways to reset, reinvigorate, and recharge ourselves so that we can emerge from a stale season of life. Whether it is through tapping into the wisdom of your emotions in the present moment, or by re-examining an important relationship, we can find a multitude of ways to break free and find life again.

Be well,

Dr. Jenna Hobbs


2 Responses to “Refresh”

  1. Colleen said

    I just graduated today from a chronic pain rehabilitation program. One of the classes we participated in was on mindfulness. It was good to be reminded of this again. As I read it, I “checked in” with myself, and found my shoulders hunched, and my muscles tensed. Thanks for the reminder!

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