Bust Out of The Winter Blues

Winter is coming, the temperatures are dropping and so is the amount of daylight we receive each day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work into our Upstate New York living room, stomping the snow off his boots and taking off his layers of added warmth, and would say, “I feel like a Mole; I leave when its dark and I get home when its dark.” As a child this just produced giggles- thinking of my dad as a Mole πŸ™‚Β  As an adult, I realize that this is the reality of many people. 😦

There are a lot of studies showing what produces the winter blues and the SAD effect in a percentage of the population. As a psychology-research-counselor person, I really enjoy them. But for the purpose of sharing tips on how to break out of the blues- probably not necessary to get into all of them πŸ™‚ Please be sure to read the bottom of this blog though to discover a bit about the differences between the blues and depression! It could save a life-seriously. One is like having a small cut on your leg that needs some cleaning and a band-aid. The other is like having your limb hanging off and trying to convince yourself that it’s fine. BIG DIFFERENCE.

These tips are for the Blues Only. Here are some ways to shake out of that cabin-fever feeling:

  1. Sunlight! Get out during the brightest part of the day- for AT LEAST 10 minutes with bare skin so you can absorb that amazing Vitamin D! Good mood food!
  2. Exercise. 35 minutes/day for 5 days a week is recommended but just do what you can! If you can walk for 10 minutes at lunch, do it! Walk to the mail box, park farther away at the grocery store or coffee shop, etc. Endorphins come from exercise and those are feeeeel gooooooood chemicals for your brain! More Good Mood Food!
  3. Remember that you’re not really hibernating. This is my hardest one in the winter because it is waaaaaay too easy to cozy up with some tasty snacks and Christmas movies! However, too many simple carbs and too much sugar does not necessarily do a body – or a brain – good. Bummer, I know.Β  :/
  4. Happy music! This has been shown to uplift your mood and light up some feel good portions of your brain! My current favorite is “Grace Got You” by MercyMe. Check it out and tell me if you can keep your toe from tapping!
  5. Hydration! It is so common to overlook this in the winter because we don’t feel as thirsty. (And cocoa tastes better than water, amIright?!) But we must remember to nourish our body to keep the energy flowing! (And hello… winter dry skin? Water can help that too!)
  6. Plan a trip! Pick a fun destination and get to planning a fun time for you and your family- or just you! Whatever πŸ˜‰ The point is to have something fun to look forward to! When you finish one, plan your next adventure!
  7. Herbal it up! Get yourself some Happy Teas that have organic ingredients like St. John’s Wort, Lemon Balm, Lemon Myrtle, etc. Make sure they areΒ  the beneficial parts of the plant in there πŸ˜‰
  8. Essential Oils! Gaaahhhh, such an overused word right now and you know what? It drives me crazy! All these crappy oil companies coming out of these unknown dingy underground tunnels, with greasy long hair and dirty chipped fingernails, putrid breath and holding out a bottle of “oil” from the sewage system and people are actually reaching for it. SMH. I can’t even. Get some good oils that aren’t so dang cheap and shady so they can actually help uplift your mood! Citrus oils, Lavender, and my BFF Frank are always good choices to soothe the soul!
  9. HELP OTHERS! I love this one. Probably because I “get my kicks” from helping others. You know what’s cool though? This is truly the pay-it-forward effect because not only does the giver receive feel good chemicals for doing the kind deed, but the people that witnessed it get a chemical boost too! Good deeds = Good moods πŸ™‚
  10. Don’t be Scrollin’! Say what?! Yeah you heard me. Only get on social media for short, purposeful moments of time. Why? Well here’s the long and short of it- you get on social media, you post something. You know your cats the cutest, so it’s going to be a hit. You get a bunch of “likes” and tons of “hearts”. Woo, feel good chemical rush! Just like Pavlov’s dogs, we go back because we want the rush (the brain treat) again! But when you posted that awesome pic of your new haircut, barely anyone commented or “liked” it. Instant downer. Instead of feel good chemicals, how about feelings of insecurity, anxiety, etc.? Oh and let’s not forget that little comparison game that people like to play on social media. JUST. DON’T. You’re comparing someone’s highlight reel against your lowest moments. Yeah, that’s an idea for the trash can. There is a direct correlation between time on social media and depression. Interesting, isn’t it? … you gotta save yourself and look up and out at the rest of the world . There’s some really cool stuff out there. πŸ™‚

Okay, I could go on but it is almost 1am and I need to go get my butt on tv in the morning so I should probably jump in bed! Say you’ll join me and give me a dopamine rush for the show, would ya? πŸ˜‰ In all seriousness, knowing that you all like the show is the entire reason why I do it. I mean, it’s hard to stay in hibernation season when you get pulled in front of the camera! LOL!

**Notes on the Winter Blues vs. Depression: You NEED to be sure you are only experiencing the blah’s of weather changes and NOT something more serious, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other type of depression/mental struggle. A big indicator for the blah’s is that you may feel down and a bit lethargic as the weather changes, but it DOES NOT STOP YOU from enjoying life. On the other hand, if you are becoming uninterested in things that you previously enjoyed, are breaking off planned appointments and get-togethers with friends, etc., and are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, despair, frequent periods of crying or anger, deep sadness that won’t go away, increase or decrease of sleep, appetite, etc. than it may be more than the winter doldrums. In these cases, I highly recommend a counselor. There are very high success rates of overcoming and handling feelings of depression by seeing a counselor. If you need a counselor, I have an office in the Roanoke, VA area (you can find my info on psychologytoday.com). If you are out of the area, you can use that same site to find someone nearby that is suited to what you need. Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing feelings of wanting to hurt yourself, someone else, are feeling unable to take care of yourself and/or those you are responsible for, contact 911 right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $100.00. Make the call.

Whether it’s the blues, depression, or any other feelings that just feel overwhelming, please know that it CAN get better. There is help. Just call up a licensed counselor and get in the office for your appointment ASAP.

Make this Fall and Winter the best yet πŸ™‚ Come along with me, the best is yet to be…

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I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation

This thought has been nipping at my heels for awhile now. There are so many things that we think are “needs” when NEWS FLASH, they aren’t. Almost all of us in America live better than the Pharaoh’s did in ancient Egypt… let that sink in.

We think having to pass on a Starbucks means we’re paupers. Most of us have debt up the wazoo because we “needed” something. And of course I understand that there are true emergencies that can also put us in debt and in those instances, I am grateful that we can “charge it”.

I think of my Great Grandmother. She was born in 1911. She lived through the Great Depression. She worked day and night, saving every penny she could and never complained when she was exhausted with not much to show for it- that was just life. She always told me, “have a penny, save a penny.” But do I ever save a penny? Not really. I justify everything, thinking, well of course I “need” this… but do I?

My Great Grandmother worked so hard to provide for her family. She saved enough money to pay for multiple weddings and funerals in cash, as well as owned her home. She never drove, never had a license. She walked everywhere. She lived in a small little pink home with plastic all over the furniture and photographs. She preserved everything to make it last. She had a tiny stove. In fact, her whole house looked like a Barbie doll playhouse compared to what we live in today. She didn’t live beyond her means. In fact, she lived under them so that she could save for emergencies. She called it her “rainy day fund”. She didn’t have a closet overflowing with clothes or shoes and she didn’t waste anything. She, her husband and children did not go out to the movies or bowling for fun; they played cards at their small kitchen table and her kids read books from the library. My Great Grandmother even made her own card holders out of plastic food lids and a fastener in the center. She was the ultimate DIYer!

My husband’s Grandfather and Grandmother also lived in a humble home. Grandfather went to work and labored every day of the work week. Grandmother stayed home and took care of family and the house. There were no HGTV remodels. In fact, she didn’t even drive. It wasn’t because she was disempowered; it was because they were living within their means! They had one car and Grandfather took it to work. On the weekends, he would take his wife out to go peruse the town but they never got spend-happy. Grandfather and Grandmother saved all their lives and when retirement came, they decided to use ALL of their savings to build a big family home to grow old in with their only daughter and her family.

We live in that very home today. What a legacy to leave! There is so much to learn from the hardworking generations of the past. They weren’t frivolous. They didn’t have shoes to match every style and outfit and they didn’t order pizzas and buy subscriptions to Amazon Prime (guilty!) or Netflix.

I’m not saying any of this is wrong or right. What I am saying is that for me and my family, I want to go back to the basics. And it is going to be so stinking hard! I LOVE Starbucks! And Italian Restaurants! And Halo Cookie Dough ice cream! And movies! And going out on the town! And chocolate truffles! And Torrid!! And cute shoes! And ALL THE CLOTHES!Β  And books!!! Man do I love books! The list goes on and on because I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I love yum and fun!Β  I am always drawn toward glitz and glam and I DREAM of an HGTV home (the “after” not the “before” πŸ™‚ ).

I think of organizations like World Help, Compassion International and the D. Gary Young Foundation, all with countless ways we can help those who TRULY “have not” . I am assured by trustworthy friends that have been onsite at all of these organizations and mission fields, that these are legitimate and 100% of all donations go straight to the people in need. If we don’t feed the starving and get people out of sex slavery, who will?

How often do we think beyond ourselves? And for how long? It’s sad, isn’t it? Most of the world still doesn’t have CLEAN DRINKING WATER (that’s right- they have muddy holes filled with animal poo and disease and they GET THEIR WATER from there because there are no other options. They try to “boil” it first but there are not many resources for them to have that “luxury”).

Yet here in America, people on government assistance have access to all the food, clean water, baby supplies, healthcare, help with electric bills and yes, even cell phones. We could split hairs and talk about what we think is working and what isn’t, but the point is, there is help from our country!

Did you know that most countries do not have those resources available for its people? Babies starve to death and die of preventable diseases while we scroll Facebook. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it?Β I sponsor a little boy who is 7 years old in Haiti named Dawens. He sent me a letter the other day talking about his home. It is made of blocks and has a piece of metal over the top. He is one of the blessed ones who gets food and education to get himself out of poverty because he has a sponsor in America helping him. He has hope and no price could ever be put on that.

We have all changed the channel when the “bleeding heart” commercials come on, asking people to sponsor a child and they show a hungry face with a bloated belly. We tell ourselves it’s a fraud or that we just don’t have the money (while sitting on furniture in a house with a roof and a remote in our hands). We tell ourselves whatever it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

I am challenging myself as much as I am challenging you. What are your true needs? And what could we put aside to help others? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that life is all about you and your family and your comfort and your fun times. It’s not.

Don’t live inside the box of delusion or denial.

There is a world out there that needs us and if we won’t help, who will?

I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation. I want to be a product of selflessness. I want to forfeit my comforts to help others. I want to stop convincing myself that my needs are greater than your needs. I want to discontinue the story I tell myself that I don’t have enough money to ________ (fill in the blank) and that someone else will have to help those in need because I have too much _____________ (fill in the blank) to take care of. I don’t think I could ever be Mother Teresa. But I could say “no” to a few more luxuries to save the life of one more child in need.

You will leave this world one day. And you will find out that these few years on earth were supposed to be for much more than “building your Kingdom.” What short-sighted thinking we all fall for. “Just live for today”…. “Get yours”… “It’s all about me”… “I deserve”….

Yeah, whatever. Look beyond yourself. You may find that you feel a whole lot better when you’re not stuck on yourself. I know I do. We will never do this “perfectly”. But we can make progress everyday toward helping others in whatever way we can and making someone’s day a little brighter, simply by putting ourselves aside and thinking of others.

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Broken Trees Still Bloom?

I live in the country. Like… The country. Let’s just say that overalls are normal here (no, I don’t own any- I’ve always had a splash of Hollywood in my veins😊) and we may or may not have some people in our county that use old comodes (aka toilets for the northern folks!) in the front yard with their house number proudly displayed on it.

It always makes me smile and shake my head just slightly in bemusement when I drive by but hey, if you’re ever in a pinch… πŸ˜‚

I love the country- in fact, I am currently on my porch swing enjoying the rain. That was one of the things my dad and I had in common- we both liked sitting on the porch and listening to the rain. πŸ’œ

I also love being in nature and I try to make it an everyday practice that the kids and I go for a walk around our family mountain for outdoor time and physical health.

Something that has really been sticking out to me this past month on our walks is how many of our trees are almost completely snapped in half due to the strong winds- and yet there are beautiful flowers blooming on the broken side- and ONLY THE BROKEN SIDE! Rather astonishing, I think.

After our walk today, I grabbed my phone and headed back down to get a pic of a tree that has been on my mind. When I got to it,Β  it began to pour down rain but I did the best I could in the few seconds I had πŸ™‚

There’s a life lesson in this. A MAJOR one. Have you figured it out yet?

Think about it. A tree limb. Snapped in half. Hanging by a literal thread of wood. But there it is, blooming and producing beautiful flowers. Meanwhile on the other side, the unbroken side, there is just branch- no new growth, no flowers. Is anyone picking up on this? Get my drift?

No matter what image people try to portray, I can tell you as one who studies the mind (and lives in one!) That no one has their life perfectly together- and that’s good- and normal! Because if we did have everything ‘perfect’, there would be no growth. It is the adversity, the suffering, the literal snapping in half of our lives where we are left hanging on my a mere thread that the growth happens. Because it is in those moments that we can either fall over, play possom and call it a day, or we can use these challenges to make something new and wonderful, overcoming the odds and choosing life over despair- no matter how dire the situation. Wow. Those are some big words. Some tough words. I am almost cringing as they come to me to write down. Because what I’m writing, what I’m suggesting, is hard. Hard. Hard.

But it’s worth it; to throw in the towel on the things in our lives that we think are broken and don’t have a chance is to deny our God-given capabilites, strength and resilence. No, we can’t undo a shattered tree limb. But God can. And sometimes it may be His plan to fix your situation for you and make things comfortable again for you. And other times, most of the time I think, He see our brokenness. He sees our tears, our torn limb and the mess we find ourselves in. And instead of turning away and ignoring our pitiful state of need and despair, He comes along side us and helps us grow beautiful flowers. He helps us bloom in the midst of our pain – maybe even because of it. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted (the broken limbed) and if you are willing to let Him, He will help you turn that obstacle, that stressor, that suffering into something beautiful. Something that can not only help you and your branch, but also inspire all who walk by, seeing your glorious flowers and thinking, how did THAT happen? ….I thought she was just a broken limb.

πŸ’œ Bobbie-jo

 

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Is There Time to Pick a Flower in Heaven?

That’s what my youngest child thoughtfully asked me as he was riding in his car seat on the way home from church today. I told him, yes, I think there will be time to do that- to which he replied, “Ok, I am going to bring one to Jesus.”

What a precious thought of a 4 year old- to bring Jesus a gift- a flower. Imagine if for a minute our adult minds could slow down and think about bringing Jesus a flower. You know, when I put it that way, thinking of this is way more exciting than my to-do list constantly running in my head. (No wonder I give myself so many headaches!)

Not only do I have a constant “to-do” list in my mind of things I need to do for the family, the house, the careers, the wallet, the vehicles, friends etc., I also have a list of things “I need to do” to help everyone in the world. No wonder I am overwhelmed so much! Because last time I looked in the mirror, I did NOT suddenly discover I was Superwoman and though I may wear sandals, I am NOT Jesus. 😊

You know what I become when I try to be SuperWoman? Super Stressed, Super Tense, Super Tired and Super Migraine, to name a few. That’s *probably* proof that I’m not meant to do it all. And though it’s great to have goals, to want to help others and want to have a well-kept home, we simply can’t have it all in this world-Β  Not in a Debbie Downer way (don’t start flushing your dreams down the toilet!) – but in a ‘we have to pick and choose what’s most important to us’ way.

I went to a work conference yesterday and one of the speakers was right up my alley in terms of my personal 2018 goals – “Simplify.” She spoke about life being like a balance beam; you can only put so much on it before things start toppling off. So you have to choose. And for every “item” you put on your balance beam, that makes some thing else that cannot fit on your beam. I know for me that’s hard because this self-admitted NOT SuperWoman still has this silly belief in her head that she can do it all – or that she HAS to do it all (enter Super Migraine).

I hope today you can examine your balance beam and say “yes” to what’s most important to you and “no” – or simply “not yet” to the things that just won’t fit. I hope you save some wiggle room on your beam for time for baths and walks…. and thoughts about bringing Jesus flowers.

πŸ’œ Bobbie-jo

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