How to move through the winter blues.

Winter can be beautiful and fun.


But it can also be hard.


A few years back, I went through a rough patch midway through the season.


I’d wake to a sinking feeling in my chest and my cup of coffee did nothing to excite me (what? Impossible!).


Instead of rubbing my eyes and grabbing my favorite mug from the shelf, I stayed in bed ruminating about all that could go wrong in my day.
 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that every year around the same time, I'd develop some kind of mystery ailment. Like the time:

  • I had abdominal cramps and was convinced I had Crohn’s disease.

  • I saw spots and thought for sure it was MS.

  • I spent hours googling the difference between the flu and a cold at the slightest hint of a sore throat or a cough.

 

Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a real thing. It’s a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons and typically begins in the fall and goes through the end of April. 
 

If you live in an area where there is a reduced level of sunlight, you may have experienced some form of SAD. I live on the east coast, where seeing the sunlight during the day is cause for a major celebration!
 

Decreased levels of sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) and create a drop in serotonin (a brain chemical that affects mood). Additionally, changes in seasons can disrupt the balance of melatonin,  affecting your sleep patterns and mood.

 

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Oversleeping

  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates

  • Weight gain

  • Tiredness or low energy

  • Anxiety/Mildly depressed mood

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Having difficulty concentrating


 

EIGHT WAYS I COPED WITH SEASONAL AFFECT DISORDER 

MINDSET SHIFT

Once I realized that I was having bouts of SAD, I made a decision to shift my mindset. Instead of going into the first of November commenting on the weather with, “It’s cold” or “I haven’t seen the sun in days,” I focused on what I could control. This helped build my mindset muscle.  Hint: Get that gratitude jorunal out.

VITAMIN D

Evidence has been mixed on the effect of Vitamin D on SAD, but Dr. Mark Hyman states that Vitamin D is critical to our emotional and physical health.  He recommends that people get tested for over 25 OH vitamin D.

 

MORE LIGHT

Real sunlight works wonders but when that’s not possible, light box therapy is known to offer effective treatment for SAD. Dr. Weil goes into great detail about the benefits here.

 

GET UP AND OUT

When your alarm goes off, get on up. After much experience, I’ve learned that nothing good comes from lying in bed after I wake. As Mel Robbins suggests, count backward 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then stand and keep going.  

 

EXERCISE

Moving your body releases serotonin and endorphins (feel-good chemicals). Establishing a regular, structured routine helps you stay consistent. It doesn’t matter what type of activity it is, but try and aim for thirty minutes, 4 days per week.

EXPLORE YOUR PURPOSE

When I began to work towards what I really wanted in life and began to do things that made me happy, I had a greater sense of purpose. Shake up your regular routine and branch out by trying a new activity or setting up a date with a friend. Have you been wanting to book that vacation? It’s to for a date with Google.

 

HYGGE, PRONOUNCED HOO-GA

A Danish concept referring to a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being. In other words, savor the moments of snuggling under your blanket, taking that sip of steaming hot cocoa, or finishing the book you’ve had by your bedside for months.



PROACTIVE SELF-CARE

For me, SAD typically came after the holidays. I was so busy putting out fires and operating in a state of reaction from November through January, that when February hit, my mind was like a train that had run out of tracks.

 

What I learned was that by slowing down and practicing better self-care during the busy months, I could train my brain to be more mindful and disciplined. When the months of February through April came, I was not left with the displaced mental energy and was able to redirect my thoughts.

If you’re struggling with shifts in the seasons, rather than aiming for a quick fix, commit to creating a practice that combines some of the ways above. I’d love to know if you struggle with changes in the weather! Comment below and let me know what works.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

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I HAD BEEN AWAITING THE PACKAGE ALL WEEK.

The supple, brown-leather Frye boots that I saved months to purchase.

The boots that would rock my world.

Each day, I hurried home from work hoping to see the Kraft paper-wrap sticking out of my mailbox.

Maybe today.  Nope.

I was obviously disappointed.

The thought of waiting one more day killed me. I had no immediate occasion to wear them. I just wanted them.

Finally, I arrived home to see the UPS package at my door.

I ripped open the box and glared at the boots. They were perfect. I put them on. I strutted around the kitchen and into the living room. I turned up the music and danced, listening as the boot heels tapped out a beat on our hardwood floors.

Then something happened. I took them off and put them in the closet.

The thrill was over. Gone.

I wanted another package.

What I realized at that moment was that my happiness wasn’t about walking around in those brown leather Frye boots.

IT WAS ABOUT WAITING FOR THEM.


According to Robert Sapolsky, neuroscientist, dopamine, sometimes referred to as the “feel good drug” is not released when the brain receives a reward, but actually released in anticipation of a reward.

I pondered this for a while. Thought about my kids at Christmas. How they’d somberly disappear into their rooms after they opened their gifts, or that trip to the Bahamas. The vacation I was convinced would provide me with enough relaxation to last a lifetime and yet I returned home wondering when I’d be able to rest.


SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

  • To reach your financial goal and be free to spend more time with your family

  • To be considered a success in your dream profession

  • To discover the secret to a life of ease and flow

Maybe you’re not exactly where you want to be. But here’s my suggestion for you.

Skydive into it.

Pop the chute.

Float.

But most of all, savor the anticipation.



KEEP IT SIMPLE


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I stepped out of the shower last week and looked next door at my neighbors’ Christmas lights. I wondered how I could make my life less complicated over the weeks leading up to the holiday.

How I could keep things simple.

I thought about:

Spending time baking cookies with the kids.

Watching holiday movies on the couch.

Devouring a novel by the fire.

It didn’t seem possible.


We crave simple.

We long for fewer commitments.

But on some level it feels unproductive.   

Not good enough.

We compare ourselves to others and resolve to do more, believing complicated is better.

Simple means it won’t all get done.

And if it doesn’t all get done, feelings of inadequacy, insufficiency and “not enoughness” arise.

There’ll always be more. And deep down you know that.

So end the quest.

Let simple be your new standard.



5 WAYS TO KEEP THINGS SIMPLE:

  1. Define what simplicity means to you and aim for that.

  2. Limit the “stuff” you buy. Think twice before buying things you don’t need.

  3. Schedule downtime. Write it on your calendar. Relaxation won’t come to you.

  4. Say “NO.”

  5. Quit comparing yourself to others.



IT’S TIME TO START EXERCISING AGAIN

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You took time away from your exercise routine and now you’re stuck.

Your body needed rest but time’s up—get moving again.


Mojo, where are you?


It’s not easy to find time and energy to exercise on a good day. Even a small break can derail your routine.


I’ve been there.

Last month, after taking two weeks off to nurse a cold, it was time for me to get back into action.


For a few days I thought about exercising.


Then, I thought about it for a few more days.


But thinking didn’t get me off the couch. Because the longer one thinks, the more time there is for self-sabotaging behaviors and thoughts.


Like these:

Life is too short to stop eating Trader Joe’s salt + pepper potato chips while binging on Netflix.

Exercising can suck an hour and a half out of the day. Who has that?

What’s the point of working out? I’ll only be wearing leggings and sweaters for the next 6 months.

Here are five ways to get back out and move your body.

  1. Forgive yourself. It’s okay you haven’t been exercising. We all go through it.

  2. Make a specific plan. Whether you sign up for a yoga class a week in advance or commit to swim every Tuesday/Thursday, come up with a time and date to begin.

  3. Go with what you love. If you feel like walking, walk. If you feel like running, run. Do what makes you happy. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. And it’s not sustainable.

  4. Phone a friend. Exercise can be easier when you take a friend along. Not only is it motivating, but you can catch up with each other.

  5. Take action. Mel Robins, author of The 5 Second Rule, suggests physically moving within 5 seconds of having an instinct to act on a goal. If you don’t, your brain will kill it. When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something productive, count backwards 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.

And as for me? I finally got out and took a 3 mile jog. Want to know my rule? It’s called the baby step rule.

    Step 1. Get off the couch

    Step 2. Walk to my bedroom

    Step 3. Open my drawer

    Step 4. Put on clothes + sneaks

*If you’ve gotten this far, you’re usually set to go. But if not, keep going.


    Step 5. Walk to front door

    Step 6. Step outside

*And usually, you’ll shift into automatic and may even begin to enjoy yourself.

So yes, the cold weather is approaching. And no, the upcoming holidays don’t help.


But you don’t have to wait until the new year to resolve to get moving again.


5 WAYS A LIFE COACH CAN HELP YOU

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5 WAYS A LIFE COACH CAN HELP YOU

What is a life coach?

Several years ago, I asked myself the same question.

I knew all about counseling + therapy.

I'm a counselor and my experience revolves around it.

But life coaching? Nope. Not a clue.

And then I hired one.

And became one.

And now I want to provide you with clarity. 

A life coach helps you:
 

  • Look within yourself for answers. We forget where to look sometimes.


    A good life coach will remind you that you already have all the answers and guide you towards connecting with that inner wisdom of yours (it's pretty damn powerful).

  • Get clear around what you want and what is holding you back. Clarity is key to success.


A good life coach will ask questions to help you discover what you want and why you want its so you can move through obstacles holding you back (think: fear, self-doubt).


  • Hold space for you.  You’ve got to lean in before you can let go.


A good life coach knows the power of creating space for you to process your thoughts and emotions and meets you exactly where you are in the moment.


  • Walk through it all.  With gentle, honest feedback and without judgment.


A good life coach navigates life alongside you, holding you accountable to your bigger goals and visions.


  • Take your power back. Shifts happen when you decide to act on your own behalf.

A good life coach believes in you and encourages you to elevate your life so you can live it as you’ve always wished.

 

Can you read magazines, books, listen to podcasts and do it on your own? Of course, you can.

Do you need a coach? No, you don’t.

Did Michael Jordan need a basketball coach?

He could have played without one—maybe still have been amazing.

But when you think about what you want.

And how you say you're going to make the change and really do it this time.

And you have every. intention. to. do. it.

But life gets in the way and you get in your own way (because you're human).

It's just that much easier (and faster) with a coach by your side.
 

LEANING INTO ANXIETY

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LEANING INTO ANXIETY

I consider myself an expert in fear and anxiety. For much of my life, I battled it.

Whether it was a fear of driving, fear of fainting, health anxiety or generalized anxiety, it was a part of my subconscious mind.

I rarely let fear prevent me from doing things, but there was almost always inner struggles and cautious dread.  And it made living in the moment very difficult.

My fear ran so deep and was so powerful that it physically controlled me.   

 

I tried to run and hide from this fear but it didn’t work. It escalated.


But what did work was:

Confronting it.

Leaning into it.

Breathing through it.

Caring for myself, physically and emotionally.


And guess what happened?

The clouds parted.

I saw myself undefined by fear.

I caught sight of my true potential.

 

These days, fear says to me:

Don’t send the email. Don’t raise your hand. Don’t sign up for that seminar. Don’t apply for that job. Don’t ask for help. Don’t take the risk.

Do all the housework yourself.  Check Facebook one more time. Meditate tomorrow. It’s not perfect. Give up.  Wait longer. You can’t. You won’t. You shouldn’t.

Ahhh!  These words are familiar and comforting.  

But when I listen to them, I realize I'm not evolving at all.  I’m stuck in a place that’s keeping me from jumping and dancing and exploring—from truly living. 

So fear will try to protect me and I'll refuse to let it. Because I don’t need it anymore.

We don’t need it anymore.

Can you toss fear in the trash, banishing it from your life forever? Nope. Nada. Never.

It’ll always be with you. But what you can do and should do—is venture on despite it. You are more powerful, more amazing, more true to yourself than ever before. 

If you think fear may be holding you back from something take a moment to consider what it would be like to stand up to it—to stop pretending it doesn’t exist.

 

And the sooner you do, the sooner you'll begin to fly.