The winter doldrums can produce a lot of extra stress. We may have financial stress as we figure out how to pay for all that extra holiday spending or how to fund a much-needed winter get-away. It is also suspected that a reduced amount of sunlight through the winter months can lead to problems with sleep and symptoms of depression (as noted by Lucy Cockcroft in The Telegraph article on Sept 2, 2008). On top of all of this, our daily routines are a bit more cumbersome in the winter weather so that maybe we forget to catch those important brief pauses we need to recharge our bodies, minds and spirits.

No-cost ways to re-charge

We often lose sight of the fact that the things that make us feel the best in life are generally free. So below is a list of some of the simple things we can do to deal with the negative effects of winter without putting additional demands on our resources. These ideas, even in small, quick doses, can make us feel fantastic. Even better, they are absolutely free !!!

Vitality Tip # 1: Breath

Breath is the essence of life and vitality because it helps to maintain the balance balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in our body. Using breath and breathing to recharge yourself can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on the air going on and the air going out just a couple of times. Whenever I am feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed, I find it grounding to remember that no matter what else is going on, if I am still breathing, everything is really OK!

Vitality Tip # 2: Warmth

There is a very good biological reason why staying warm so soothing. When your body temperature drops, your body has to work harder to bring up your body temperature, so by keeping warm and comfortable we actually conserve energy so our bodies can take care of other important activities like fighting infection. Enjoy the relaxing benefits of warmth by drinking a hot beverage, taking a warm bath, wrapping up your favorite sweater or blanket, or snuggling with your sweetheart!

Vitality Tip # 3: Listening

Effective listening is the lifeblood of the relationshipships we have with others and with ourselves. When we are listened to, we feel valued. So listening in to our own needs becomes a great way for us to show a little self-respect! Now, listening to yourself may sound like a crazy activity, but suspend your judgment and give it a try. Think about how you might listen to someone else. Stop other activities and remove yourself from any environmental distractions so you can focus. Then, try quieting your mind from its ongoing thoughts and judgments. Quieting your judgments is often the hardest part, but if you can get into this quiet space, your true feelings, and the reason for them, often surfaces and gives you a great opportunity to confront the real issue.

Vitality Tip # 4: Gratitude

Recent academic studies have begun to establish links between the practice of gratitude thinking and noted improvements in a person's emotional, interpersonal and even physical well-being (as noted by John Tierny in a New York Times Science article published on November 21, 2011.) Here are a couple of things you can do to enhance your own gratitude thinking: try keeping a gratitude journal and note three to five things you are thankful for each day; once a week, acknowledge a kindness that has been shown to you by sending a quick thank you note; right before you go to sleep at night take a moment to reflect on one thing that went your way during the day.

Vitality Tip # 5: Stretching

Cats really get this one! Stretching is a very simple and relatively effortless way to rejuvenate our bodies throughout the day mainly because it reduces muscle tension and increases blood circulation in the body. While it's great if you can formalize your stretching activity by taking a stretch or yoga class once or twice a week, getting some benefit out of stretching really takes whole lot less effort. At any point through the day you can pause, raise your shoulders towards your ears, then release. You can slowly turn your head from side-to-side and then slowly drop your chin to chest and then tilt your head back. And, if you do not mind looking a bit conspicuous, stand up, and raise your hands over your head while taking a deep breath; hold the breath and pull your hands gently toward the ceiling; then drop your arms while releasing the breath. But you know what feels good; the important thing is to take a pause here and there during your day to re-energize with a stretch!

Vitality Tip # 6: Light

Light is used cross-culturally in celebration and in various religious and spiritual rituals to punctuate our connectedness. Light is also an important metaphor for enlightenment and enhanced awareness because of its ability to convey to us information about the physical world around us.Take a quiet moment to enjoy the spirit of connectedness and enlightenment within a flickering candle or in a warm fire-light .