Brooke A. Rogers

Optimism makes for a happy life

Winter blues can sometimes be hard to fight off, especially in a state where winter lasts nine months out of the year.
For me, the four months from January through April elicit a distinct and heavy feeling of angst. The presents have all been unwrapped. The Christmas lights have been taken down. I'm still getting glitter out of my New Year's dress, and summer seems so impossibly far away.

As the holiday season comes to a rather abrupt close, I feel all I have to look forward to is the large remainder of a bitter High Plains winter and the abandonment of my New Year's resolutions.

In Wyoming, we must wait until May before we see even a hint of spring, and by then I'm hissing at sunlight and glaring at the brightly colored bathing suit section of Target.  This year, one of my resolutions is to bring my own sunshine to these dark, cold months.

I'm compiling my 18 years of experience in optimism into a system that will, hopefully, keep me bright and smiling until June, and these are a few of the steps I'm taking to keep my spirits up:

My music taste tends to be a little more on the depressing side. I love Bon Iver, Rachael Yamagata and Regina Spektor. However, after realizing albums like Elephant brought out a very Winona Ryder side of me, I decided I would have to find more upbeat tunes. After some digging, I came up with a cheery playlist that gets me out of the darkest of moods.
“Electric”—Atlas Genius
“Sort of”—Ingrid Michaelson
“You and Your Heart”—Jack Johnson
“L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N”—Noah and the Whale
“Little Acorns”—The White Stripes
“Hello”—Martin Solvieg ft. Dragonette
“Pumpkin Soup”—Kate Nash
“Chasing the Sun”—Sara Bareilles
“Six Weeks”—Of Monsters & Men
“Tongue Tied”—Grouplove
“The Dancing Song”—Little Comets
“Daylight”—Matt & Kim
“Chocolate”—The 1975
“Electric Feel”—MGMT

I've been into yoga for a while. I'm still very inexperienced and must be careful because I often have no idea what I'm doing, but I try. Not only does practicing yoga regularly offer wonderful health benefits—such as better sleep, increased flexibility, lower blood pressure and a stronger immune system—but it also never fails to leave me in a better mood.

Being kind to others has an effect of not only improving the moods of those around you but your mood as well. Random acts of kindness rarely cost much, and they pay off by lending to a better planet and a happier, more courteous population.

Yes, I know. This one is rough. Why must pasta be bad for you? It's 2014. Why have they not yet figured out how to make salad taste like pizza? I continually tell myself that eating well will pay off in the long run because I'll feel so much better, but it's really hard because bread is amazing.

To solve this, I've been finding healthy foods I really enjoy eating. Certain yogurt has probiotics that boost your immune system. Acai berries are full of antioxidants, and almonds are rich in protein. Eating healthy doesn't have to mean eating kale three times a day.

So many sicknesses and health issues can be tied to a lack of sleep, and college students are notorious for ignoring that in favor of Redbull—induced all-nighters. I'm as guilty as anyone, but this year I'm shooting for a healthy amount of sleep each night (about seven hours) just to see how that feels for a while. After all, Netflix will probably still exist tomorrow.

So far, my execution of this system has been hit and miss, but I assume there's no harm in trying. By doing this, I'm hoping to make the heavy last few months of winter a little lighter.