11 Ways to Slay the Winter Blues

11 Ways to Slay the Winter BluesLiving in a colder climate during the winter, where the days are shorter and darker, can easily lead itself to some form of the winter blues or cabin fever.  You might be feeling extra tired or sluggish, unmotivated, experiencing mood swings or just antsy and needing to get out of the house.  This is a really common complaint and one that typically is easily remedied.

Here are 11 proven methods to boost your mood when the dreaded winter blues kick in:

1. Let There Be Light

Open up all of your curtains.  Let as much light as possible into your home.  Even if you feel like hibernating, adding more darkness to the already days will only dampen your mood further.

Take a note from your cat.  Sit in the sunny spots in your house, soak in the warm and mood boosting potential of the sun.  If it’s a dreary day, make sure you turn on a few lamps.

You can also check out light therapy lamps.  These lamps plug in and emit a strong light.  Sitting in their glow for as little as 30 minutes a day has been said to boost the mood.

2. Bring in Plants

Nature has a calming effect on the body.  It can be difficult to get that same feeling when you don’t want to leave the house.  Time to bring nature inside.  If you don’t have a houseplant in your home, you need to get one.  Having several houseplants throughout your house can be a source of life, when everything seems dead and dreary outside.

Bonus, plants help to clean the air of pollutants, molds, viruses and bacteria.  This is especially great during the winter to ward of illness.  Plants also act as a natural humidifier to keep your dry skin at bay and hair static free.

3. Use Citrus Scents

Citrus scents have been proven to increase feelings of happiness and decrease feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. It can even help increase your motivation and ability to focus.

Try lighting candles, diffusing essential oils, or using lotions or perfumes that include citrus scents like lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or bergamot for a quick pick me up.  This is especially helpful right after getting out of bed in the morning or when you are needing to focus and get something done.

4. Listen to Nature Sounds

On the days when it is too cold to leave the house, find a youtube video and listen to nature sounds. Keep it playing in the background throughout the day and notice how much calmer and grounded you feel.

Listening to flowing water and birds chirping induces feelings of calm and even lowers your cortisol levels – the stress hormone that can wreck havoc on your body if not kept in check.

5. Exercise

I get it, your motivation to exercise in the winter might tank, but we all know how good exercise is for your mind and body.  Make exercise a priority.  Exercise boosts those feel good endorphins and helps lift brain fog and improve your mood.

If you aren’t feeling like hitting it hard at the gym, consider more gentle exercises like yoga and walking. Even just stretching your muscles daily can be helpful

6. Watch Your Intake of Sugar, Alcohol and Caffeine

Dark mornings make an extra cup of coffee almost a necessity.  Sweet carb-filled comfort food is all you might be craving and being cooped up in the house makes you want an extra drink.  Unfortunately, when used in excess, sugar, alcohol and caffeine can all be major mood destroyers.

Check in and see how your body responds after bingeing on sugar or alcohol.  Do you feel extra anxious or down?  Might be time to cut back a bit and include more healthy choices.

7. Eat Filling & Grounding Foods

While your first instinct might be to load up on carbs, simple carbs like donuts, cakes, cookies etc. can really mess with your blood sugar levels.  These may give you a temporary boost in mood, but it will inevitably lead to the dreaded sugar crash.

Significant spikes up and down in blood sugar can play a big part in your mood.  The goal is to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible.  To achieve this, eat more complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans and squash, soups and stews.  Not only are these foods warm and nourishing to the body, but they also provide long lasting energy.

Also, try adding healthy fats to your diet like avocado, coconut, nut and seed butters.  Fats keep you feeling full and stay satisfied longer.

8.  Drink More Water

Water makes up the building blocks of our body.  We are, after all, about 50% water.  It is so important to make sure that you are properly hydrated during the winter months. You might not feel as thirsty as you would during the hot summer months, but you can get dehydrated even in the winter.

Adequate amounts of water improve mood and energy, lubricate joints, relieving aches and pains, and flush out toxins boosting the immune system, so you don’t get sick.  If it is difficult to get as much water down in the winter, try warm water with lemon or herbal teas.

9. Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked

If you’re getting your yearly physical done soon, you might want to ask the doc to test your vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D plays a vital role in our health, from your hormones to your mood.  Low vitamin D levels have been linked to depression.

In the colder parts of the world, we aren’t able to get vitamin D from the sun during the winter, so our levels can drop.  With your doctor’s ok, consider supplementing with Vitamin D capsules to make up for the loss of sun.

10. Start a Gratitude Journal

Having a gratitude practice has been proven to boost your feelings of happiness and joy.  It can be especially difficult to acknowledge what is going well in your life when you feel a slump in your mood.  I have seen huge benefits in my own life by adding a gratitude practice to my daily routine.

Start keeping track of 3 things each day that went well or 3 things you are grateful for.  Over time, this will help retrain your brain to focus more on the positive.  It’s very important that you do this even on days when it seems like nothing is going well.

“Where attention goes, energy flows,” meaning the more positive and uplifting your thoughts, the more positive things you will start to notice and experience in your life.

11. Plan a Trip

When all else fails, sometimes you just need to get away.  If you can make plans to vacay somewhere warm, all the better.  But, this works even if you are just leaving town for the day.  It helps to break up the monotony of your daily routine.

The anticipation and excitement of the trip can linger for days and even weeks.  Once you get back, recalling memories you made or looking at photos can bring back those pleasant feelings.

Is taking a trip just not possible right now?  Good news, you still will get a boost in mood just by planning a trip, even if you don’t end up taking it for awhile.

When the Winter Blues Turn into Something More

What happens if your winter blues linger for several weeks or even months?  Do your symptoms seem to be getting worse over time?  You might be suffering from something more serious like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or Depression.  Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Always tired no matter how much sleep you get
  • Oversleep or can’t sleep
  • Overeat or have no appetite
  • Gain significant amounts of weight or lose weight
  • Have difficulty completing simple daily tasks like getting out of bed or showering
  • Have no interest in the activities you used to enjoy
  • Isolating yourself from family or friends
  • Feeling numb
  • Suicidal thoughts/Suicide attempts

If this is the case for you, please reach out to a qualified professional like a therapist or doctor for help. No one should have to suffer through this alone.

How To Make the Most of Your Fresh Start

How to make the most of your fresh startFresh starts are my favorite!  There is always this nervous anticipation of what’s to come, but with that comes the beauty of doing things differently, honing in on my authentic self and honoring what feels best for me.  I encourage you to focus on the possibility of fresh starts and the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

Starting fresh generally means that something has come to an end.  This transition period can be really difficult and filled with a lot of fear of the unknown and fear of the future.  But just like spring always follows winter, you too will get through this transition process and begin with a fresh start.

What are the benefits of fresh starts?

A New Perspective

New beginnings give you a chance to see things clearly.  You can take off the rosy glasses (or not so rosy glasses) and often see things for what they are and not what you embellished them to be in your head. Whether what has ended was a relationship, job, or a life, loss tends to bring us back to what is important.  We get to focus on what really matters.  It’s also a good time to reflect on what has been working, what hasn’t, what you want and don’t want moving forward.  You get to decide what will work best for you moving forward.

Personal Growth

Although endings are always difficult, moments where I have suffered loss, such as the loss of a loved one, relationship or career have been the moments where I have grown the most.  My personal growth is always propelled further.  Once the initial pain of the ending has dulled, it is time to examine the silver lining.  And there is always a silver lining, if you look deep enough.  What have you learned from this experience?  Have you gained any new wisdom because of what has happened?  Have you grown as a person?  Ask yourself, where am I growing during this experience?

Rest

Endings tend to drain all of the energy out of you.  Starting fresh gives you a chance to rest.  Certain worries or anxieties that you might have had during your previous situation may be gone or ending and you can enjoy the quiet and stillness.  It is so important to make rest a priority for yourself.  Endings come with a lot of emotions and stress generally.  Make sure you are taking care of yourself during this transition toward the new.

New Possibilities

Fresh starts mean getting excited about new possibilities.  Whether that be new loves, new careers, new friends, new homes or new adventures.  It’s exciting to think about all of the abundance that is just waiting to come your way.  This is your chance to change what wasn’t working.  If you want to act more assertive, or more spontaneous, this is the time where you can experiment and try it on.  I have always loved the idea of reinventing myself, tweaking areas of my life that aren’t working and making myself better.  Upgrading.  Be open to what is possible.  What you are looking for might not come wrapped in the package you were thinking it would, but that doesn’t make it less exciting or less perfect for you.

Fresh Ideas and a Surge of Creativity

Because of all the self-reflection and resting you’ve been doing, you are probably beaming with fresh ideas and a surge in your creative juices.  This is the cleansing power of a clearer mind.  Use this positive energy to your advantage.  Finish the art project you have had sitting in your corner for months, start that blog you’ve been talking about or take that cake decorating class.  The energy of new beginnings is powerful.  Take full advantage of it.

How do I make the most of my fresh start?

Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude in every situation has the ability to transform your thinking and your way of life.  Whether your ending was a positive experience or not, practice being grateful for what went well, the lessons you learned, the support system that held you up and the greatness that is to come.  Be grateful for the chance to make different and better decisions moving forward and to honor your needs and your voice.  Expect great things to come your way.  One thing I like to do is write down three things each day that I am grateful for that have brought me joy.  Focusing on the positive really does make a difference.

Be Present

Although beginnings are usually filled with nervous anticipation.  Enjoy it.  Be present.  Focus on the good that it happening in the here and now.  New job, new relationship, new living arrangements, new school.  Soak it all in.  Some of the best memories are made at the beginning during the honeymoon phase.  Remember that eventually the newness will lessen and the mundane will kick in.  There might not be the same excitement and freshness when that happens, so enjoy every ounce of it right now.

Allow Life to Flow

These transitional time periods from old to new can be tricky and difficult to navigate.  Try not to force things into exactly what you’re envisioning in your head.  Allow nature to take its course and let things happen exactly as they should.  Don’t try to force it.  Definitely take inspired action, but be open to the possibilities in all forms, instead to trying to pigeon hole your life into this perfect mold that doesn’t really exist (except in your perfectionistic mind).

Learn Something New

Is there always something you have wanted to learn or wanted to try and have kept putting off?  Now is the perfect time to do exactly that.  Not only will it be fun and exciting, but it is propelling you forward towards more positive experiences.  There is no greater time to start something than the present.  And it may be a welcomed distraction from the old.

Focus on Self-Care

Fresh starts are really a time to turn the focus back on yourself.  What do you need right now to be your best self?  Do you need to change your diet?  Exercise a little bit more?  Do you need more sleep or to spend more time with friends or family?  Do you need extra time to be alone in solitude?  Listen to that inner voice that is telling you exactly what you need in order to glide through this transition with ease.  This would also be an amazing time to start adding little self-care routines to your daily life.  Now is the time to make those habits stick. Make YOU a priority.

There is Beauty in New Beginnings

 

This can be an exciting time for you, if you let it!  Remember to embrace the moment and enjoy all of the beauty that this new beginning has for you.  Fresh starts don’t have to be filled with fear and anxiety.  Make the most of this unique transition in your life and enjoy what life has to offer you.

What are your thoughts on fresh starts? 

 

How Being the “Good Girl” is Holding You Back

Being the good girl

Would you consider yourself a good girl? Always following the rules and doing what you are supposed to be doing. Not talking back or disagreeing with people, putting others needs before your own. Not making waves and keeping yourself poised and classy at all times. Being the hostess with the smile.  Sound familiar?

For the majority of my life I’ve been trying to keep up with my title as the good girl.  Even when it began to impact my life in a negative way, even when I got sick, even when my work started to suffer. Through hell and high waters, I was still going to be the good girl.

Until one day that didn’t work for me anymore. I wanted to be more than just the good girl.

I wanted to be great in my own right and the only way to do that was to break out of my good girl box.

 

Yikes! Scariest decision ever, but it continues to be one of the best choices I have made for myself.

Is being a good girl keeping you stuck? Here are 4 ways the good girl label might be holding you back:

1.  Your self-worth is based on whether or not you meet the “good girl” standard

 

As a child, I was labeled as the good girl. I did what I was told, followed all of the rules, made good grades, didn’t make waves, and tried to always keep the peace.   My poor sister, the free-spirited one, was always being compared to me. Honestly, it made me feel good.  I knew my place and strived for that.

As I grew older, my people-pleasing tendencies took over. I became so perfectionistic, that any mistake I made would riddle me with anxiety. I would continuously re-think situations in my head until I was practically in panic mode. On the outside, I seemed perfect, on the inside I was a frazzled ball of nerves. Instead of being praised for being a good friend or a kind person, my worth was based on whether I had the right grades, acted appropriately in social situations and said no to peer pressure.

The standards others set for me (and the ones I set for myself) became so unattainable, that each time I didn’t meet the mark, I would feel like a complete failure.

 

I still struggle with trying to rise to this imaginary bar I’ve set.

If your worthiness is attached to how well you follow the “good girl” rules, you may be sabotaging yourself in a big way. This is crushing your self-worth, which when healthy, can only come from within. Try reminding yourself that external things are not what define your worth.

You are worth it regardless of past, present or future decisions.

 

You were born with an innate worth. Don’t let that be taken away from you. You don’t have to prove your worthiness to anyone.

What is defining your self-worth? External ideals and things, or your internal value as a human being?


2.  your creativity is being squashed

The good girl box can be suffocating. Feeling like you need to put on a show and always be “good” can be a huge detriment, especially if you would consider yourself a creative like I do. Whether your art is drawing, painting, writing, singing, crafting, speaking or something else.

If you often find you have someone else’s voice in your head telling you what you can and cannot do, your inner good girl might be holding you back.

Do you often find yourself changing your creative path because something might be too risky (or risqué!), too impractical, too “out there,” too expensive, too this, too that!

This is the beginning of the fear that you are not good enough. That taking any type of risk outside of the good girl box is not only the wrong choice for you, but actually dangerous and detrimental. This leads to the dreaded play it safe mentality.

I played it safe for over two decades of my life, and because of it, I was not reaching my full potential. It wasn’t until I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, that I began to really experience life.

Sure, risk is scary and there are no guarantees, but the reward has often been worth the risk.

The greatness you can achieve, if you jump out of your box, has no ceiling.

How freeing to be able to do your craft with no real or imagined boundaries holding you back.

How has the good girl ideal held you back creatively? What would happen creatively if you were to let go of that ideal?


3.  You aren’t completing your life’s mission (or worse, You’re completing someone else’s!)

 

Don’t break the rules, don’t talk back, don’t disappoint. Being the good girl can really derail you from your life’s purpose. You do all of the right things, go to school for the right degree, get the right job and wake up one day wondering whose life you are living because this isn’t what you wanted.

I fell in love with psychology in high school and decided pretty quickly I wanted to be a child psychologist. It was a noble profession, people praised me for it and quickly got attached to the title. Ooooh you would be a doctor? I have to admit, I got a bit attached to the title myself. I was feeling pretty good about my life’s track, doing all of the right things to get myself there.

Then came the day of the graduate school entrance exam and I bombed it! BIG. TIME. My whole world was shaken in an instant, I felt like I had failed, not only myself, but everyone who was excited for my big dreams. I had to rearrange my plans, I started working a 9 to 5 job with a less prestigious title because I thought that is what I was supposed to do. I worked myself sick, (literally my body fell apart), doing a job I hated for much less pay than I was worth. I was miserable on so many levels. This was definitely not my life’s mission.

Fast forward a few years and I am working in a career I love, with a flexible schedule and I decide how many hours I want to work. I’m happy and better still, my work is fulfilling. Sure, this job has much less security and no benefits, but it’s worth it on so many levels!

When you don’t listen to your heart, and instead rely on the opinions or ideals of others, you may entirely miss your life’s purpose.

Your life purpose is so unique that ONLY YOU can fill it. If you fail to do so, the world misses out on your greatness! This is kind of a big deal!

I hope you are doing what you were meant to do on this planet. If not, you still have time to start. It’s never to late to complete your mission. Don’t feel like you have to do something to appease your parents or do something because it’s the “right thing to do.” Remember, you have the final say in your life. You get to decide what is in your heart. Embrace it.

Your life’s work should make you feel energized and inspired, not exhausted and drained.

How is your inner good girl holding you back from completing your life’s purpose?


4.  Your needs are being sacrificed for the needs of others

 

Is the saying good girls finish last feeling true for you? It might be because you are too busy thinking about the needs of everyone else, and you have completely forgotten to finish your own race!

If you’re anything like I am, I bet your inner good girl is always telling you to be kind, be hospitable and keep your mouth shut. Go with the flow, put on your smiling face. How many times have you caught yourself saying “No, it’s ok.” “Don’t worry about it.” Even though inside you are steaming.

Most of us good girls are natural born nurturers and helpers, but sometimes we do this to our detriment.

It’s ok to want to do things for your significant other, but are they now expecting it? Are you getting what you need?  It’s ok to work extra at your job, but are you working yourself to death? Are you getting compensated for the extra effort?

Remember, your needs are just as important as the needs of others.

Sometimes you have to make waves. Sometimes you have to set boundaries.

It’s ok. It’s healthy! And you will ultimately feel better about the situation because of it.

Don’t be afraid to speak up, even if it’s a taboo topic for a good girl. It can be really scary for the good girl to talk about  topics such as money and sex. But, you’re worth it, your needs and desires need to be met too! It’s like ripping off a band-aid. You just have to do it. You will feel better for speaking up, even if the outcome isn’t exactly what you had hoped for.

 If you are always saying yes to everyone else and no to yourself, you are putting yourself at risk of being taken advantage of. Good girls have a tendency to become doormats too quickly. Don’t get caught up in that trap.

Make sure that your needs are being met. If not, make them known. This isn’t mean, it’s assertive and assertiveness is a key component to your greatness!

How is your good girl ideal keeping you from getting your needs met? How can you assert yourself in areas where you aren’t getting your needs met?

Hopefully, your inner good girl isn’t sinking you like quicksand. Who needs that label anyways? Pull your hair out of that pony and embrace the life YOU want to live.