For many of us, these cold winter days are spent in contemplation. We can choose what topics we contemplate but more often than not it boils down to the biggest topic of all: to freeze or not to freeze? Do we go outside and have a little fun in the snow and try to make the most of it, or do we stay inside where the fire is roaring, and the TV is calling your name for one more episode of your favorite show?
One way to draw our attention away from the coin flip choice of braving the elements is to focus on GLAD. GLAD is an acronym used in DBT therapy which stands for G(ratitude), L(earning), A(ccomplishment), and D(elight). Each letter has a few guiding questions that can draw our hearts and our minds to something that goes beyond the intenal debates and into a sense of introspection. Each letter gives us an opportunity to take stock of the good things we have which can come especially handy when nature is…less than agreeable. Let’s break down each one and look at where we can find new ways to discover new things about ourselves, our family, our friends, our surroundings and do so in a way that helps us to conquer even the dreariest of days.
Gratitude: Take a look around your house, your place of work, or wherever you are reading this. Think about how grateful you are that these things exist. It could be your favorite book series, a comfy couch, your best friend and the care the show you, or even the fact that you have a place to lay your head at night. All of these things can serve as a gentle reminder that even when we face difficulty, fears, and doubts, there are still things in our life to be grateful for.
Learning: What is something new you learned today? Did you learn that you can bake a halfway decent cake? Did you learn that you really enjoy decorating and changing out pictures around your house? Or maybe you learned that your other friends want to hang out just as much as you do! It doesn’t have to be any life-altering information to be something to learn. Take time to slow down and observe those around you and chances are you will find something new about them.
Accomplishment: This one can feel daunting only because the temptation is to directly connect it to the to-do list of things we “need” to do. Fight that temptation. Pick one thing no matter how small and take pride in that accomplishment. Did you finally finish that quilt, or did you remember to put your socks away? Awesome! This step is more about how the sense of accomplishment makes you feel when you give yourself the credit you are due.
Delight: This may be the trickiest one of all. What did you take delight in today? What led you to focus on joy, happiness, peace, or serenity? Take the time to bask in this delight. This is the part where you get to slow down and “smell the roses”. Take delight in a meal well prepared, the laughter of children, snuggling with your pet. Find something that lifts your senses and elevates your mind to a place where you can enjoy things that may have slipped your attention otherwise.
When we use these different reflection questions to draw nearer to our emotional state it allows us to engage with our world and our surroundings in a new way. Creating a sense of newness is a key element of enjoyment and entertainment during these winter months. Try a few and see how they go! Try these with a friend or as a family and notice the differences between answers. You can choose to focus on just one topic a day or week or try to look at all 4 categories in the same day if you’re feeling up to the task. As with anything else in mental health, things like GLAD are most effective when shared with other trusted support and accountability partners. Hopefully using GLAD will break up the day and introduce some new and exciting ways to view your environment and create a great sense of belonging!