Do you get the Winter Blues? Survive this season with these 10 hacks!

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It’s mid December and things have changed around us. The temperature is colder, the days are shorter and that comes with less sunlight as well as less desire to go outside and do anything. If you are feeling the winter blues, read on to find what you can do to enhance your mood, energy and focus. I have included a Bonus Prevent Winter Blues Worksheet to help you plan out your winter months in a healthful way. Get it below and fill it out as you read this article.

Clear your mind- Write out Tasks and Project on “paper.” Doing this will help you get it out of your head. Once you see all of your commitments and want-to-do, decide which to drop and which could essentially wait until the New Year. Recognize your own limits by being realistic and humble with your self. We would all love to be Super Women. Note: Fill out First question on Worksheet

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Learn to Say No- This goes along with recognizing your limits and setting boundaries. At times things are imposed on us and at times we put too much on ourselves. A good way of doing this is respecting your “time off” from work as such as well as not taking unnecessary work home. If you can’t possibly cook three dishes for the next holiday party, then don’t. 

Find an activity that brings you joy- We can end up feeling in a slump if we close our minds to thinking that there is nothing to do during the winter. Plan a few activities ahead of time and then go out and do them. Planning an activity or even a get away that brings you joy will definitely be a mood booster.  Examples- ice fishing, bowling, ice skating, going to the mountains to ski or snow board, taking a cooking class. Note: Write out your own ideas on the worksheet

Resist the urge to sleep in- Give it your all to wake up at the same time and early every day even if it is super gloomy outside.  Oversleeping makes people even more tired because of over production of melatonin. It also disrupts your biological clock. Some hacks: putting alarm in next room or across the room so you have to get up to turn it off. Open the curtains to get some light in the morning and make your bed as soon as you get up so you don’t have the temptation to get back in bed. Be intentional and consistent.

Get some sunlight and fresh air- We might just have the urge to stay inside to hibernate. By resisting that urge and going outside you will get your daily dose of vitamin D, which your body synthesizes on its own with skin exposure to sunlight and is crucial for adequate energy, good mood and ability to focus during the winter months. If you absolutely cannot go outside much speak with your medical professional about vitamin D supplements or by a Happy light. A Happy Light is a light box for day light therapy. It gives one the full spectrum light that mimics sunlight. Research shows  that light treatment may improve mood and energy by triggering release of serotonin, help improve sleep & focus by resetting circadian rhythm to a natural state and help with the regulation of melatonin. Note: Think of ways you can do this just for a few minutes early on in the day and write them in the work sheet

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Sneak in some physical activity- this doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or spend endless hours at the gym. Taking a walk during part of your lunch-time, parking farther away in parking lots and taking the stairs instead of the elevator all count as physical activity. If you cannot get at least 30 minutes in at once, divide that throughout the day. Every bit counts. It has been shown in various studies that regular physical activity aides in mood improvement as well as stress reduction. While exercising, your brain also sends a signal to your body to release chemicals called endorphins. They are the neurotransmitters that trigger positive feelings of general well-being, and reduce the perception of pain, very similar to Morphine. There's nothing wrong with a little mood boost from exercise! How will you fit physical acitivity into this winter season? Write your answers on the worksheet.

Hydrate your body- It’s understandable that we want to keep warm during the winter months, but don’t forget your H2o. Even though temperatures are much colder, the winter also brings much drier air, which can unexpectedly lead to dehydration. According to Mayo Clinic, dehydration can impact the flow of oxygen to the brain. This in turn can lead your body to feel sluggish and run-down. In other words dehydration, can leave you feeling irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual. This can also cause you to become more susceptible to certain illnesses, such as the common cold or the flu. When you drink plenty of water, you actually give your body the fluids it needs to fight off these issues. During the winter we tend to drink loads of caffeinated drinks and soups high in sodium. Be careful as those dehydrate. There is also lots of water in fresh fruits and veggies so take them in.

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Enjoy but put a brake on over indulging- Don’t the colder days and festivities become a free for all. There is nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite dessert and drinks while spending time with friends and family. Over indulgence does not necessarily have to do with food. It can be going out to buy a gift for every single person we have ever met, going on a binge of alcoholic beverages, making sure that everyone in the family is getting along with each other and even going to every single holiday party so you don’t disappoint everyone. When we over-indulgence in this way, it only adds stress and guilt feelings afterward. We all hate the negative feelings that come on when we completely let loose. Relax and think about it before you fall into those situations. What are some things that might trigger you to behave this way and how can you handle it before things get out of control?

Take a breather- There is so much to do during the holiday’s but yes it is important to make time for yourself, even if that means only 5 minutes a day.  That might just be what you need to feel refreshed and be able to handle everything this season brings. Find something that reduces your stress level by clearing your mind, consciously slowing your breathing and restoring your inner calm. For some, this comes with a short walk, reading a book, or listening to soothing music.

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Be full of gratitude and celebrate your wins- Yes we all have negative things that happened this year, but hey, we are still here and fighting aren’t we? Think about the things you are grateful for and celebrate them. Positivity can surely change our mindset and help us see the world in a different light. They do say it’s all in the eye of the beholder!

How about the work place? When we recognize others’ accomplishments, we promote engagement and productivity at work. Giving thanks to others might actually help boost productivity in 2018 after all.

Hope you find these tips helpful. Be sure to download your free worksheet as well. It never hurts to have an action plan that you can be accountable for. 

xoxo-

Susana