photo credit: ASHLEE BROOKE
Guys, I feel you. Wintertime is rough.
Cold. Windy. Rainy. Snowy. Slushy. Icy. Slippery. Messy. And downright miserable.
It can get to your head. I know it’s gotten to mine more than once!
Growing up in Idaho gave me some of the worst winters around. Below 0 degree temps and wind that chilled me to the bone.
At least one accident a winter (whether that was a snowmachine, truck, car, or school bus)! Most roads never got plowed, and that never changed when I married and had kids, so I was stuck trying to convince myself to drive to the store with my little humans in tow amidst black ice and snow drifts.
And while we are at it, let us not forget the sun that leaves us at 4:30 PM! #bringmemyxanax
It can really be a rough time of year, especially if you have little ones at home that need to be entertained. Or, little ones that make it difficult to leave the house during a storm.
I digress, winter can also bring magic and so much beauty. I am not denying that. But, for some of us, dare I say, most of us, it brings weight gain, anxiety, and depression. For those that feel this way. Never fear. This mama is an expert when it comes to fighting the wintertime blues so I finally sat down and wrote all my little tips down for you guys. You can never have too many tips right?
These are in no particular order…
I mean, at night obviously. How much sleep you receive can literally affect your entire life. Whether you realize it or not. During the night your body recharges every little element it has. Including your metabolism and hormones. AND WE ALL know what happens when hormones are off balanced! I am preaching to the choir on this one, because I am a LATE NIGHT kinda gal. Blame on all those years of night shifts, but I come alive at night time. That is when I get so much done! The kids go to bed and I come alive. Morning time hits and I am a hot mess. It will affect me the entire day too. Sleep is just as important as your diet is! Immune health, mental health, emotional health, and physical health count on it. Make a commitment to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night. After a week or so, you will see that you can get more done during the day because you aren’t sluggish.
2. MAKE YOUR BED
The second you wake up in the morning, you make that pretty bed of yours. This will prevent you from wanting to sneak into it during the day when you are feeling down or tired.
Whatever religion you follow, I find that if I start my day searching my heart, mind, and soul for gratitude and appreciation, my day will be so much better. If you look for the positive in your life, that is what you will find. But if you fill your head with “I can’ts, I won’t, I don’t know’s” you are essentially telling your subconscious self that you are a failure. Instead of saying, “I don’t know”, let’s change that to, “I don’t know yet!” And as for the other negative words in your vocabulary, get rid of them RIGHT THIS SECOND. Really listen to how you talk to yourself. How you talk about yourself to others. It’s amazing how much your attitude can change just by the way you talk. Along those lines, PRAY for a positive attitude. I do this often, especially when I wake up mad or annoyed. A negative attitude is the first step down the road to Depressionville. Also, study the scriptures, talks, or self uplifting books. What about changing your wallpaper on your phone to one of your favorite quotes. All of those will put you in a better mind set to start your day. I know, it sounds like a lot. You don’t need to do it all. But take 5 minutes, maybe 15 seconds, out of your morning to draw your emotions and thoughts towards love and appreciation for yourself and your life.
4. WRITE POSITIVE NOTES
Sometimes it’s not always easy to talk yourself into a positive attitude, but what if you prepared yourself for it beforehand! When I was going through nursing school, I had printed off probably a dozen quotes that I taped all over my room. On my ceiling, by my bed, on my mirror, and even on my laptop. I challenge you to do the same. They don’t have to be paragraphs, though some good quotes are long, but even something as simple as, “YOU ARE ENOUGH!”, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!”, “BE AWESOME TODAY!” or “TODAY IS A GREAT DAY!” Have you ever noticed that Monday’s are exceptionally hard these days because everyone and their dog post negative dumb quotes on their facebook pages and instagrams. I hate those. As if Monday’s weren’t hard enough, but now we have allll these negative thoughts, quotes, and pictures filling up our feeds and eating away the positive feelings. Scroll on my friend. Those posts won’t affect you anymore because you have positive crap to look at. #boom
5. SIMPLIFY AND SET GOALS
Wintertime is the BEST time to do this. When I say simplify, I mean simplify EVERYTHING. Your life. Your home. Your social life. Your marriage. You workouts. And your friends. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that life has to offer. If you remove those things in your life that give you anxiety, your day will feel so much easier to conquer. For example, some days, my only goal is to get laundry done. Not even folded, just washed! For reals! Other days, my goal is to take the kids to the museum. And some days my goal is to make dinner. Give yourself ONE GOAL to do each day. You are less likely to feel anxious about your to-do list if you don’t set your standards too high. Also, don’t ever be afraid to say no. The word NO, can be a full sentence. Coming from a people pleaser like myself, I know that word can be hard to say sometimes. But, remember you are working on YOU here. Don’t overwhelm yourself.
6. DO NOT COMPARE
You should not give a flying fart if Suzy is baking french bread and giving it to the homeless, or if Jim is training for a marathon. Those things are GREAT for Suzy and Jim but we aren’t talking about Jim and Suzy, we are talking about you! Most people suffering with depression or anxiety have a hard time separating other peoples successes or accomplishments from their lack of such accomplishments. Resulting in feelings of failure. AND since we are working on YOU right now. I want you to focus on you and your family. Comparison is the thief of joy. There will be a time when you can look at others and share in their successes but if you gets you down, it’s not that time yet.
Some of the hardest days I have during the winter time are when Jeff comes home from work and I don’t tell him what is wrong. Or if we text throughout the day and I don’t share my feelings. I am not the best communicator, Jeff is well aware of that. But, he has also taught me a lot in these 7 years of marriage. Communication can really be the cure for so much anxiety in your life. Having a support person available to help you on those really rough days is so so important. It might not be a husband. It may be a friend or sibling. Whoever it is. Have someone. Reach out to them on a particularly hard day. Make sure you both communicate what you wish to gain from the conversation. On some days when I am feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, I will talk to Jeff and hope he will say, “OH babe, I will come home and you can run away for the night!” HA! That would be called an unrealistic expectation and that isn’t fair for anyone involved to expect that kind of outcome. AKA run away from my feelings. That is clearly an example of unhealthy expectations for my support person. You need to be realistic with your support person. Maybe you just need to take a long bath that night. Or watch your show instead of his. Maybe he needs to pick up dinner on the way home or just come home and show you more love. Communication can be very beneficial. The more open and honest you are, the better. I find Jeff is more willing to help with my crazy emotions if I just lay it all out on the table for him. He might not understand how or why I feel that way, but he can help me sort through my feelings. You have loved ones in your life for a reason. Utilize them and make sure you keep the line open so they feel they can utilize you as well.
8. LOVE YOURSELF
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I am ALL ABOUT THAT SELF LOVE! So, here’s what you are going to do. Every morning, after you meditate, pray, study, and make your bed. Go to the mirror and tell yourself you LOVE YOU! You think you are beautiful, and you are enough. Every single morning. You and ONLY YOU can change the way you feel. You are in charge of your thoughts and feelings so, take charge and tell that pretty brain of yours what it really needs to hear!
9. OPEN YOUR BLINDS
Do it. The second you leave your bedroom, after looking in the mirror! ha. You aren’t going to get much vitamin D during the winter but you can enjoy that sun while it’s out. Having those blinds open will immediately boost your mood and kick your attitude up a notch. That natural light is so good for the soul.
10. FIND COMFORT IN YOUR HOME
When I moved to Utah, I did a serious home downgrade. Don’t get me wrong. I am more than grateful for my home I am in now but it took a while for me to feel like it was a home and not just a house. For me, I have less anxiety if my house is clean and organized. So, I try to clean a little bit everyday. Whether you like a clean home or you are happy with some clutter. Find your happy home grove and embrace it. I also LOVE decorating or rearranging. Both of those are therapeutic to me. It’s amazing how great you can feel when you put some love into the home you are in. You have the power to give yourself a fresh, clean environment, which is sure to give you some rejuvenation.
11. HAVE A DANCE PARTY
Really though. Have you ever cleaned your house with music blaring? Please say yes. If you said no, stop reading and go do that right now please! Music seriously changes EVERYTHING! Your kids will LOVE it and will not only clean your home, but burn some calories. It’s a sure plan to uplift your spirit.
DUH! This is my number 1!!! ALWAYS and forever. You know you can bust out a good workout from home but head out to the gym as well. I really don’t care if you are working out at home naked or if you go to the nicest gym in the country. JUST DO IT! I can’t even begin to explain the benefits of this. JUST the endorphin’s released ALONE will boost your mood. As little as 30 minutes a day is all you need to help your mood. Find some quick at home workouts on my instagram with the hashtag #ssjathomeworkout OR grab my At-Home Crossfit Inspired workout program for something a bit more challenging.
I love to bake! Way more than cook. I could make cookies, and cakes, and cupcakes all day long. One of my favorite things to do is bake and then give it all away. I don’t do it much right now, since I am on a Paleo cleanse, but when I can have a cookie or two, I love to share my goodies. This does two things. 1. Gives you the little treat you were craving and 2. Helps you serve others. I often find myself feeling the worst about myself when all I am thinking about is myself. Serving is the best cure for that. When you dedicate your time to help and serve, you find charity enters your heart and all the sudden your cares and worries aren’t as big of an issue. This is also when I feel the most Christlike. Sharing pure love and going out of your way to brighten someones life can help you feel needed, loved, and cherish. Not only from the ones you are serving, but from yourself and the Lord.
14. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
I don’t care if there is a snow storm. Okay, I do care, but only if it’s a really bad one! Bundle your kids up and GO!! Get out of the house, for the love. Pack a lunch and go to the playground in the mall. That is why they invented hand sanitizer people. Have lunch with friends at a place with a playground. Set up a play date. Walk around the mall. You don’t even have to leave your car. Drive around the neighborhood. Just go. Getting ready is overrated, so don’t stress about that. Remember, simplify! Don’t confine yourself to your home. The roads aren’t that bad. Drive slow and turn up that heater. OR invite people to your house. But keep it simple and don’t stress about the house being dirty before they come over. They understand that you LIVE there! You should understand that too.
15. HAVE SEX
Preferably protected and preferably with your husband. HA! just kidding.
But really, a healthy sex life can really help emotionally as well as physically.
16. STRETCH IT OUT
If you are sitting on the couch, change it up and sit on the floor. Stretch while you are playing with your kids or watching TV. Even little movement with your body helps. It’s proven to reduce stress levels, increase your energy, improve your mobility, and gives you better balance. Even a little yoga is SO good to help release that depression and anxiety! I will do a YouTube video on it this week to show you some of my favorite movements!
17. DRINK MORE WATER
Here’s another tip that I swear I’ve written 100 blog posts about. Water is CRUCIAL! Water also boosts energy and aids in weight lose. It helps brighten the skin. It can cure a headache or help sore muscles. You are going to have less digestive problems. Boosts brain power and reduces the risk of diseases and even cancer. Water = happiness. It’s just that simple. Invest in a good water bottle and sip on it throughout the day. You will be amazed at the difference it makes.
18. EAT A BALANCED DIET
I know. So dumb. Why can’t we just eat cake everyday and be happy dang it!?! Well, I mean, technically you can do whatever you want but the crap that is in cake can affect your body more than you realize. Sugar is a scary thing when you realize what it can do to your body. Sugar can actually impair your brain function, increase your appetite, harm your organs, and completely offset your mood. Watch out for sugar in enriched foods like white breads and rice. Start your day with a healthy breakfast so you can jump start your metabolism. Depression is often related to lack of energy and sugar can give you those energy slumps worse than any other substance. Did you know that sugar is the most addictive substance on this planet? Even more so than cocaine. It’s a scary drug. Be aware of what you put in your mouth and make sure to balance your diet.
19. LIGHT A CANDLE
It’s incredible to me how much a smell changes my mood. For better or for worse. I grew up with the smell of candles warming my home, so it’s something I’ve always loved. I am a big believer in therapeutic smells as well. Some of my favorites to reduce my anxiety are lavender or eucalyptus. For depression I love summery smells like orange or lemon or some kind of floral scent. I love smelling new scents as well to see what my body wants or needs or maybe craves at that time.
20. CRY IT OUT
I am not sure why, but crying has gotten a bad rep! Be strong. Be tough. Hold it in. You can do it. Resist those urges and push through it. Well, guess what. That’s all crap! Your body was given emotions for a reason. It’s a release. And it’s beautiful. Crying can heal and soothe so much depression and anxiety. So let it out girlfriend. Don’t ever be ashamed for the emotions you are feeling. So many times we feel anxious or depressed because we repress our feelings until we can’t handle it anymore. No more of that mmmkay!?
Did you make it to the end? I hope so!
I really hope this little list of mine helps you out!
Life is hard. There is no way around it. If you get up every morning, there are going to be challenges and trails thrown your way from every direction. Life was never ever intended to be easy, and how boring if it was. Focus on one day at a time. Spring will come, I promise! With the hard winter comes the beautiful spring! We are alive and have a new chance everyday to improve ourselves.
Love yourself, be happy, and go eat a cupcake!