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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Is Summer Threatening Your Sanity? 5 Tips for a Serene Summer- Without Stressing Your Wallet!

We are officially into week 3 of summer vacation at the Hurt Household and my LEAST FAVORITE thing to hear my very blessed children say is, “I’m bored.” Did you know that if you make over $20,000 a year, you are in the top 10 income earners IN THE WORLD? And if you make over $30,000 a year, YOU ARE A TOP 5% INCOME EARNER IN THE WORLD?! So when it comes to things to do, hearing “I’m bored” gives this mommy one of those famous head spin, eye popping, mom moments. Because the fact is, there is PLENTY to do but sometimes our creativity falls in a rut. Let’s see if I can help you out πŸ™‚Β  I have compiled my top 5 favorite idea to keep the kiddos busy and having fun, while YOU are still able to get stuff done!

  1. Let your kids help with the chores. I mean hey, they actually think we’re having fun doing them, so why not use this as a way to teach them good work ethics and responsibility? The chores they participate in with you is going to be something decided based on your individual child’s ability. For instance, my 4 year old likes to water the plants and feed the pets. And he likes to get the water himself. (Yes, typically that means I am mopping water off the floor πŸ™‚ But when I weigh out what this is teaching him vs. my extra work, I view it as invaluable. My 4 year old likes to fold blankets (I think because there aren’t as many of those πŸ™‚ ) and my 6 year old likes to fold all the washcloths and towels while I fold the other laundry. Sometimes we put on music (since they still think my music choices are cool)Β  and I also give the kids my ears to let them chatter away while we fold πŸ™‚Β  (And if you’re wondering if those folded towels and blankets look good? Nope! But that’s why we have linen closets- put them in and shut the door!) πŸ™‚
  2. Create incentives. Perhaps when they finish helping you fold the laundry then you all get to go swimming or run through the hose- whatever they love to do with you!
  3. Go to the library. (What is this lady talking about? It’s not 1992 anymore.) Yup, I totally get that. However, this resource is actually a GEM. Libraries aren’t just books anymore like when I was a kid (and it was still my favorite place to go!). Now they have places for kids to play with new and different toys, computer learning games that are somehow exotic to your child since it is different from what they have at home, new movies that they can rent AND books. It’s a kid paradise! Some of them even have playgrounds outside and coffee/snack shops inside. Man, we mommies are living the life! πŸ™‚
  4. Take something ordinary and make it fun.Β How?? Ok, so I know if you are following my blog, you are either already super creative or you would like to add more creativity into your life. How do I know this? Because I’m the DIY Diva- we make stuff- really cool and creative stuff. And I also know that you are smart. How do I know that? Because you took a minute to actually look into what today’s foods and products are doing to our bodies, our DNA (future generations), our families and our environment. So yeah, you are smart and creative. Pat yourself onΒ  the back πŸ™‚ As an example of taking something ordinary and making it fun, one of the things my boys love is when we go for a walk and we look for “fossils” and other cool finds (animal tracks, weird bugs, broken trees, different leaves, cool flowers, etc.). Tailor it to what your kids like! When I was a kid, I would watch the TV show Wishbone (anyone else???) and my sister and I would go outside with a notebook and a pen, pretending to solve mysteries- like the case of the missing cat (and we didn’t have a cat LOL). When you engage your imagination with the kids, anything is fun. The other day in the pool, the kids were having one of their “mama duck” days where they trail me around. So I made up a game. I was “Queen Stinky” and if they came over to my side they would become stinky! LOL! So my oldest went to the other side and was “Prince Smell Good” and I wasn’t allowed to bring my stinky self over there. My youngest decided to join the stinkies and was “Stinky Jr.” Ahhh serenity… I got to sit on float and relax a bit while my youngest was trying to sneak into the Clean Castle and every once in awhile I would pretend to try and sneak in too. The kids had a blast. I wore a smaller round Nemo float as my “crown” and grabbed a fun noodle as my “scepter” πŸ™‚
  5. I know you have heard this before but our kids don’t want our presents as much as they want our PRESENCE. So how do we do that when us moms are all so busy? Whether we work solely from the home or from home and office, moms are swamped. So here’s how we do it: We create precious space. For instance, my kids knew that mommy was going to be in that pool, playing with them, but after the few hours in the pool, mommy was going to read a chapter of her book in the living room while they played a game on their own. I established this beforehand so it wasn’t a surprise when we came inside and they were totally good with it because they just had mommy all to themselves for the past 2 hours. Sometimes I will tell them that mommy has to do work until ______ time. But after that, we will ______. And then I write the time down so they can check it whenever they forget. πŸ™‚ Of course they can come to me at any point because I work where they play, but they know to let mommy do her thing because after that they are going to do something super cool and awesome with mommy πŸ™‚ PS. This won’t work with ages 0-3. At those ages, we are pretty much their person and they need us 24/7. To create a breather during those ages, get a coffee (through the drive through!) on your way home and go the long way when they are napping or relaxing in the car πŸ™‚ And when they fall asleep on your lap when lounging on the recliner, try to leave something you enjoy nearby that you can do with one hand (I found the Kindle to be invaluable at the point, as turning pages was near impossible! Of course, it IS inevitable that the moment your child falls asleep, you will have to pee. Every time. πŸ™‚ ) Also, forget about the laundry at those ages. Wash. Dry. Divide it up in baskets by person, unfolded, and call it a day. πŸ˜‰Β  Even a mommy can only do so much and as the country song says, “You gotta know when to hold ’em [and] know when to fold ’em.” πŸ™‚

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