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The ”SPICES” of Life

Updated: Apr 8

Sam wanted to host a dinner party with their closest friends. They sent out invites for a Saturday night, spent days creating the perfect menu, and the whole of Friday gathering ingredients. The morning of the dinner party, Sam took hours to meticulously clean their home, arrange candles and fresh flowers around the space, and put together the perfect playlist of background music. After hours of cooking, their friends arrived and dinner was served - a beautiful roast chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, blackened brussel sprouts, a gorgeous salad, and even made-from-scratch dinner rolls. The meal looked incredible. Sam and their friends dove in, but all of them noticed that something was off, even from the first bite of food. The chicken was flavorless, lacking any noticeable seasoning. With no red pepper, balsamic vinegar, honey, or bacon, the blackened brussel sprouts were extremely disappointing - like bland, mini cabbages. The mashed potatoes had no garlicky punch, the gravy was totally unseasoned, and even the dinner rolls were completely blah. Sam had failed to use any spices, even salt, to give the dishes flavor. 

When we cook without any spices, we end up with depressing, bland, and dull food. In the same way that food requires a diverse mix of spices in order to make it flavorful, we all have a diverse set of needs to bring fulfillment and satisfaction to our lives. Whenever you are feeling down or flat, do an assessment of what needs you have that aren’t being met. What “spices” are missing from your life that could be bringing you contentment and enjoyment? 

The below acronym, “SPICES”, can help you to break down your needs into six general categories: social, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional, and spiritual. 

S - Social. Perhaps you are craving connection with others. This can be especially true if you have recently gone through a significant life change such as a breakup or a big move. Here are some examples of ways you can better meet your social needs:

  • Share a meal with a friend. Go out to your favorite place, or stay in for a potluck dinner. 

  • Host a game night. Cards, a board game, or charades can make for a fun night of laughter and friendly competition.

  • Set up a video chat date with a family member or friend that lives farther away.

  • Join a club, group, or team with others in your community or online who have similar interests as you.

P - Physical. What physical needs do you have that may be falling to the wayside? Evaluate how you are feeling in your body, and take these ideas of how to better meet your physical needs into consideration: 

  • Go to the doctor. Schedule that appointment that you need but have been putting off.

  • Go for a walk. Time spent in nature and moving your body - win, win for your mood.

  • Practice daily hygiene. Be intentional with your dental care, skincare, and hair care. 

  • Develop a healthy sleep routine. Try going to bed and waking up around the same times each day - your body will love the consistency!

  • Be mindful of your nutrition. Eat with intention & choose foods that make you feel good.

I - Intellectual. Maybe you haven’t been feeling mentally stimulated or challenged in your day-to-day life. Here are some ways you can better engage your mind:

  • Listen to a podcast. There are plenty of options of thought-provoking podcasts that can stretch you and make you think.

  • Try a puzzle. Whether it’s sudoku, a crossword, or an actual jigsaw puzzle, challenge your brain to something difficult.

  • Read. Choose a book, article, or short story that tickles your brain. Join your local library and download the (free) Libby app to gain access to thousands of resources.

  • Learn something new & challenging to you. The effort to learn a new language, hobby, or skill is great for your long term brain health.

  • Join or start a book club. Not only will this encourage you to think critically as you read, it will also encourage intentional, social connections with others.

C - Creative. As we grow older, it can be easy to lose the imaginative and creative instinct that comes so naturally to us as children. Maybe one of these suggestions can pull you out of a slump and meet your creative needs:

  • Try a new food. Find a recipe online that is out of the ordinary for you, stretching both your taste buds and cooking skills.

  • Put together a new outfit with what’s already in your closet. Get inventive with your pairings, mixing formal & casual or trying colors together that you typically wouldn’t think of.

  • Make something new. Whether it’s a painting, drawing, song, story, or poem - express yourself freely with no judgment or expectation.

  • Explore a new genre. Watch, listen to, or read something outside of your comfort zone - maybe you’ll find that you actually like musicals, comic books, or bluegrass music.

E - Emotional. It is not always easy to recognize, let alone meet, the emotional needs that you may have. Understanding and accepting your emotions can be difficult work - I invite you to consider some of the following as ways to better meet your emotional needs:

  • Journal. Writing down the thoughts and feelings swimming through your head helps to externalize them, organizing them in a way that can be less overwhelming.

  • Listen to music. Make a playlist that matches your mood. Lean into whatever music you are feeling - angry, gloomy, happy, or dreamy.

  • Get outside. Spending time in nature is clinically proven to boost mood, elevate self-esteem, and increase overall mental health.

  • Find a therapist. Reach out to someone in your area or via telehealth who can provide you with professional insight and clinical support.

S - Spiritual. Even if the needs of your mind and body are being met, you still may find your soul in need of care and attention. Spiritual health looks different for everyone. Here are some ideas of ways to better connect with things beyond yourself:

  • Meditate. Take time to be still, allowing whatever thoughts you may have to flow freely. You can practice self-guided meditation, or you can try a guided meditation on YouTube or in a free app like “Calm” or “Insight Timer”.

  • Pray. Release your worries, gratitudes, and hopes in the act of prayer. Whether you believe in a higher power, do not believe in a higher power, or are still considering what you believe - the act of voicing your concerns in prayer can bring healing and peace.

  • Explore different spiritual or religious belief systems. Read different books on religion or spirituality. Don’t be afraid to explore the feelings or questions you may have about existence.

  • Engage with others. Participate in open and honest conversations with people you trust about spirituality. Ask them questions, voice opinions, or even practice meditation, prayer, and study together. 

Just as we need a balance of spices to flavor our food well, we need balance in these areas of life to experience overall wellbeing. I encourage you to evaluate these different domains of your life, identify where you are in need, and implement change in order to alleviate depression and elevate your mood. I wish you a lasting, fulfilling state of holistic health.

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