“It’s that time of the year. Leaves on trees turn red, days get colder, nights become darker than black. Even though I’ve lived my whole life here in Finland, I never get used to cold winters and especially this darkness. For 21 years that I have walked on this Earth I have tried to understand why people settled down to live in these climate conditions in the first place and how did they even survive coming from places much sunnier than this one. I know for sure that we still haven’t developed any special genes that could help us tolerate this darkness mentally. It gets me down, makes me unmotivated, depressed, fat and tired. I know very few people that enjoy winters and their reasons are usually the snow that may never even come and Christmas that lasts for a week.”
I wrote this last week but I didn’t post it. I realised something very painful yet important: it’s not exactly the weather that makes me “unmotivated, depressed, fat and tired” – it’s my attitude.
To me it seems like the human brain automatically has a negative attitude to everything. You have to train yours to become more positive. You have to pay ATTENTION to what you’re thinking when you’re not intentionally thinking about anything or else you might become something you don’t like.
I always notice it whenever I haven’t prioritized my mental wellbeing for a while. It slowly gets out of hand and even things like the weather give me anxiety. I like to do a quick trick to get me out of that mindset and that is listing 10 things I’m grateful for at the moment. Why? Because anxiety and gratitude cant co-exist. Counting your blessings is a great way to cure your anxiety, because there’s only room for one or the other.
Thank you. When is the last time you said those words? It’s so easy to forget yet it’s the answer to all our problems. No matter how things are going, you always have something to be grateful for. I have a tiny notebook where I write those things as often as I remember. Last year I challenged myself to list 5 things everyday for a month. When I started I was having severe anxiety but when I finished, I felt more at ease with life and that’s when I realised that no matter your circumstances, those words can change your whole life. Gratitude is the single most important habit you can practise and indeed – you have to make it a habit for it to start affecting your life.
Usually whenever fall/winter knocks the door, I’d rather not open and browse through traveling websites instead. Wild, tempting thoughts start roaming around in my head: should I move to a warmer country? Since I’m not doing that anytime soon, this fall I’ll challenge myself to change my way of thinking and remind myself how many things are great right here and now. The truth is, I have visited plenty of warmer places in Europe and Asia and come back very grateful every single time, thinking none are more amazing and lovable than this country. So many things are done right here. In the end I’m so grateful to be born and raised and living here, only a few steps away from a clean forest. Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that.
Besides, autumn is very beautiful. It’s the season of cute knits and scented candles. It’s the only season when no one’s talking about beach bodies and everyone gets to be at home chilling, watching Netflix with a clean conscience because it’s cold and/or raining outside.
As the nights get colder and I pour myself some tea, I promise myself to pick my phone up less and focus on that notebook of gratitude a lot more because now I need it more than ever. I recommend the same to anyone who’s not feeling the happiest right now. Check yourself, complain less and get your priorities straight because what you focus on, grows. Be grateful, ’cause there’s just so much in life to be grateful for.