5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues this Season
The christmas season may seem warm, cozy and even full of cheer. But for an increasing number of Canadians and others in the northern hemisphere seasonal depression may begin to strike in these winter months.
With significant pressure to be spending time with our families and loved ones, the season of giving can be an extremely stressful time for anyone who experiences social anxiety or depression.
This doesn’t even begin to get into the financial struggles that come along with this time of year, the increasingly dark and dreary weather (lack of vitamin D is proven to cause mood issues) and the possible relationship or familial tensions which are exaggerated when we put pressure on ourselves to “have it all together”.
So how can we make the most of the season, whatever it may bring, and overcome those winter blues? Well, as a therapist who has worked with seasonal depression for years and also suffered myself with some of the symptoms experienced alongside the lack of sunshine…. I have come up with my top 5 list of tips for positive mental health throughout the winter season:
- Get active – it sounds cheesy and repetitive but people are at their most sedentary in the winter months and simply going out for a walk, doing that lunchtime yoga session or walking on a treadmill may be just the boost you need to get out of your winter funk.
- Socialize – when we experience stress our bodies have natural mechanisms that produce more oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and we crave the comfort of social interactions. Sometimes sharing your time with someone you care about can truly ease the burden of the winter blues.
- Ditch the Junk Food – When we are cold our bodies naturally want to pack on the pounds and keep us warm. It can also seem easier to grab something from the drive thru or eat that cake at the office christmas potluck….but by doing this we are actually affecting our blood sugars, moods and causing ourselves to feel lethargic – all of which contribute to the winter blues.
- Engage in Seasonal Mindfulness – With the season of consumerism and chaos we can forget about our normal routines and it is easy to neglect living in the present moment.
- Take your Vitamins – Ensuring that you get proper nutrients can be challenging in the winter months, one example alone is that we will get naturally less vitamin D as it gets darker and colder.
So what are you waiting for? Take care of yourself this season…and make the most of all of the amazing things that winter brings along with it!
Your friend and Therapist,
We’ve been getting some great reviews on our latest product “Becoming Zen: A 21-Day Mind Detox for Anxiety” and we thought you might want to check them out for yourself here:
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WHY WE SHOULDN’T APOLOGIZE FOR OURSELVES: The THREE Detrimental Effects of Negative Self Talk!
As a therapist I deal with a lot of issues of low self-esteem and I hear negative self talk* regularly dropped in sessions. Women, men and even children in our culture have become so used to negative self talk as part of “conversation” that it just slips out “I obviously wouldn’t know what i’m talking about”, “as an ugly person i have just accepted that…”, “I’m not worth your time anyway”.
In a culture where no one wants to be seen as too arrogant, self absorbed or overly “confident” this is what we are reduced to. Minimizing ourselves in conversation to either make others feel better, so as not to seem arrogant or because we have only learned the negative traits of ourselves.
The problem is when we live apologizing for who we are it goes beyond a conversational level. If we are constantly apologizing and trying to belittle our positives, or play down our achievements – eventually we begin to believe this as a “truth”. The self-talk becomes not only conversational, but it becomes part of our daily practice.
We then begin to talk to ourselves like that ALL of the time. I discuss this topic in my course on Mindfulness “Becoming Zen” because I believe that this type of self talk is the equivalent of being in an abusive relationship on our self esteem. If we walk around all day putting ourselves down, the result is that we are basically mentally and emotionally abusing ourselves. I created my course to help men and women who struggle with self-talk and show them ways to develop a positive self image.
There are three main effects I see when negative self-talk becomes the “norm” in a person’s life and these are:
- Hopelessness – hopelessness becomes a baseline and the negative self talk becomes the persons sense of agency/ ability. If all they are exposed to is their own negative thoughts about themselves, then it creates a hopelessness and ruins their ability to cope.
- Goals are Lowered – The person experiencing the negative self talk will set their goals lower and feel less able to achieve what they want to out of life.
- Affect on friends and family – When negative self talk is the normal in a household or group of friends, it has a shared effect. Children also model the negative self talk about themselves and learn that this is the way to communicate.
But it doesn’t have to be hopeless – Negative self talk can be changed and I focus on this on my youtube channel as well “You Counselling” with weekly videos on agency and positive self esteem. One great way to begin your journey to positive self esteem is to begin journalling about one thing you appreciate or like about yourself each day.
You can sign up here for my free e-book and you will also be sent free gratitude journal templates to get started on your practice!
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to LOVE. YOUR. LIFE.
Your friend and therapist,
Since I began Vlogging several months ago a lot of people have asked me why I do it.
My message is simple and that is that Mental Health doesn’t wait for you to have time to get in to see your therapist. It doesn’t always hit at the most convenient times and sometimes people just want an accessible way to work on their coping skills and feel connected.
It is not something I hide that throughout much of my childhood and teenage years I struggled with immense social anxiety. I was born with a facial deformity that left me feeling very self conscious and I moved all over the world. I believe that if I had had as much access to social media, connection and communities of people who had the same struggles as me that I would have felt more accepted, confident and OK with where I was at.
Many of the symptoms we feel are actually really normal. Most people deal to some extent with Anxiety, Depression or even confidence issues once in a while and the purpose of You Counselling and the You Therapy VLOGS are to remind you that ITS OK not to always be okay.
Don’t strive for perfection, just strive to be grateful for today and to embrace the present as it comes.
Most of all…don’t forget to love yourself. Imperfections and all. Because if you don’t…you give others the message that it’s okay not to love you as well.
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