How to overcome winter blues through self care and kindness

winter blues, self care

The days are getting colder and shorter where I live. Winter is approaching and with it come the dreaded winter blues.

Even if you live in a warm climate, your hours of sunlight decrease. That lack of sunlight is one of the key culprits causing low moods during winter.

If you’re wondering, some of the symptoms of winter blues include:

  1. Poor sleep patterns
  2. Feeling less social
  3. Feeling lethargic

Winter blues are different than seasonal affective disorder which is more serious and less common (and not covered here).

They affect women more than men and, perhaps obviously, are more common in colder climates.

Some say pressure and loneliness around Christmas increases the tendency toward winter blues. This year, that loneliness will only be exacerbated.

So, now we know why we suffer winter blues. What can we do about it?

How to Properly Beat the Winter Blues

Here are 8 ways to manage your winter blues this year:

1. Get more sunlight

Going outside for a walk or engaging in winter sports will expose you to more natural light.

The sun still shines in winter, only less so. Taking it in will increase your serotonin production and elevate your mood.

2. Light therapy

Some people use a lightbox which simulates natural light. You look at it for a certain amount of time each day and it gives you the benefits of a dose of sunlight.

3. Exercise

Like the sun, physical activity increases serotonin and also boosts endorphins, for a double dose of mood lifting.

Moderate exercise of 30 minutes per day is more than enough to reap benefits from these mood enhancers.

15 GIFs of Adorable Animals Enjoying the Snow to Help Chase Away Your Winter  Blues

4. Embrace routine

Keep a regular schedule to avoid winter blues. That means going to bed and waking at about the same time each day.

Prepare healthy foods and eat your meals at around the same time each day. Do your best not to overindulge in comfort foods like starchy and sugary choices.

5. Stay connected

Maintain your social connections, even when you don’t feel like it. Sometimes you need to do the opposite of what you feel like doing.

This past weekend I forced myself to call a friend to share my low feelings. It had a tremendous impact on my mood and made me feel less alone.

6. Think of others

Thinking of ourselves too much is a sure way to extend a low mood. Ruminating over negative thoughts makes it difficult to escape the winter blues.

Turn your attention outward instead. Help others, whether it’s through a donation, delivering food to someone in need, or listening to a friend.

7. Listen to uplifting music

To enhance your mood, tune in to radio stations that play positive music.

Or create playlists of encouraging songs that remind you you’re loved and not alone.

8. Stay cozy

Issue 01: It's not just the winter blues

Consider keeping a couple of soft blankets on the couch. Whoever sits there will enjoy the warmth and feel of a cozy covering.

If you’re lucky enough to have the warmth of a fireplace, light it up. Wear comfy clothes.

Be kind to yourself as you navigate the winter blues and remember: they’re totally natural, normal, and, most important, temporary.

Romance scammers more common than you think: How to protect yourself

romance scammers
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Women make up 82% of victims of romance scammers. In spite of this fact, the media is saturated with stories about female grifters who dupe both men and women.

This is a curious bias and hugely misleading reporting. It gives women the false sense that men are no worse than women in this area.

This puts women at risk of being victimized. Another popular false belief is that only gullible women fall for these traps.

Instead, these women tend to be intelligent, highly educated, and successful in their fields of work.

Victims of romance scammers tend to be intelligent, educated, and successful in their fields of work. Click To Tweet

Women who fall for romance scammers are not stupid or naïve. They are trustworthy and community oriented. In other words, good people who expect the same in others.

How do romance scammers operate?

It starts with “love bombing”, a common tactic among narcissists. That intense attention and affection that moves things too fast and prompts you to let down your guard.

They also pretend to like and dislike the same things you do. To build a false sense in you of having found the perfect partner.

Anyone can Google your name or read your Facebook profile to find out all kinds of things about you. This is material they use to give you the false sense of feeling “known”.

Scammers will isolate you and seek out victims who are already lacking support. If you have suffered a recent trauma like divorce you are far more likely to fall for one.

How to avoid romance scammers

Here are 4 ways to protect yourself from falling for a romantic grifter:

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1. Don’t commit too fast.

Spend time with someone before becoming over involved with them or giving your heart away.

In the Dirty John podcast, his victim let him move in after only five weeks and married him shortly after.

2. Listen to what others say about him.

And not only the positive comments. Romance scammers are experts at conning people.

But listen to the one who points out his cracks. Or says she can’t put her finger on why she doesn’t trust him.

Women’s intuition is real and the woman who trusts hers is a gifted advisor. Pay attention to what she says.

Women's intuition is real and the woman who trusts hers is a gifted advisor. Click To Tweet

3. Trust your own intuition.

Most women have spent their lives downplaying their God-given intuition. This is because we live in a world that downgrades feminine attributes and elevates cold logic instead.

Listen to that voice inside you and heed those red flags. They will always be there to mark the way to safety.

Avoid online romance scams this Valentine's Day | Buzz

4. If he seems too good to be true, he is.

He claims to have a high-flying job but needs to borrow money. That’s a huge red flag and a common theme among romance scammers.

He has all the same interests as you and supports all the causes you do. Anyone could find those details on your Facebook profile.

Romance scammers use clichés women love to hear but most normal men never say! Click To Tweet

He uses clichés that women love to hear but most normal men never say! Like, “I can’t take my eyes off you,” or “you’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”

Be suspicious when he says these things very early on, like a first date. Pretending to fall for you immediately is the biggest romance scam of all.

Toxic people in the workplace: how to protect yourself

toxic people workplace
Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Chances are you’ve had to deal with toxic people in the workplace at some point in your life. Maybe you’re dealing with them now.

Toxic people in the workplace come in a number of different forms.

In my career, I’ve experienced harassers, bullies, manipulators, and gossips. And I’m sure you can think of more examples among the people you’ve encountered at work.

The stress of dealing with toxic people in the workplace impacts your health and your ability to do your job. Click To Tweet

The stress of dealing with toxic people in the workplace impacts your health and your ability to do your job. The effects include but are not limited to:

  1. decreased job satisfaction
  2. lost sleep
  3. low productivity
  4. increased stress
  5. poor mental health

How to protect yourself

So, how do you protect yourself from these soul suckers? Here are 4 ways to deal with toxic people in the workplace:

1. Find supporters.

Form relationships with positive people in the office. You don’t need to talk to them about the difficult person.

Simply having good people on your side acts as an antidote to counter the effects of the toxic coworker.

2. Set boundaries.

Do your best not to respond emotionally to the toxic person. Rise above their madness and refuse to get pulled down to their level.

If it’s the office gossip, socializer, or negative Nancy, tell them you can’t talk right now, you’re busy working.

Use body language to indicate your unwillingness to engage with them. This could mean averting your eyes when they approach.

Or you could wear headphones as a barrier.

Bad Coworker GIFs | Tenor

I used to work at a place where my department would meet for lunch every day and gossip about everyone who wasn’t there.

I stayed silent until one day I decided to take my lunches outside rather than stew in that toxic environment.

3. Have good self care.

Meditation helps keep your mind off the offending person and on the present moment instead. It also calms your brain and gives you more mental clarity.

Get a good night’s sleep. You’re more susceptible to someone’s manipulation and other toxic tactics when you’re not well-rested. It’s also essential for your overall well-being.

You're more susceptible to someone's manipulation and other toxic tactics when you're not well-rested. Click To Tweet

Eating healthy and exercising regularly are two more ways to stay physically healthy and emotionally fit. They’ll increase your confidence to counteract the negative effects of your coworker.

Take time off for vacations and personal days when you are permitted to do so. It’s important to get away to reset and refresh and take care of interests you have outside of work.

4. Focus on solutions.

Rather than ruminate on things you can’t control, focus on actions you can take.

There’s no point trying to understand the mind and motives of an irrational person. These people are driven by nefarious methods of getting their way at any cost.

There's no point trying to understand the mind and motives of an irrational person. Click To Tweet

Instead of dwelling on the problem of the toxic person, think of ways you can manage them and maintain your sanity. This helps you feel more in control.

Tell yourself they must be insecure and unhappy and try to find compassion for them.

Don’t bother trying to reason with them or have a civil conversation. They don’t care about you and only know how to deflect blame.

If you do complain, they may manipulate the situation to make you look bad. So arm yourself with evidence and stick to the facts if you are forced to bring in HR.

Sometimes the best way to protect yourself means staying silent. Unlike a toxic friend or family member, you can’t detach yourself from a toxic person in the workplace.

How to slow down: 3 ways to be a tortoise in a hare’s world

Have you ever felt like a tortoise in a hare’s world? Maybe you’re a little slow at making decisions or processing your thoughts.

You don’t think quickly on your feet so get overlooked at meetings where fast talkers rule.

Have you ever felt like a tortoise in a hare's world? Maybe you're a little slower at making decisions or processing your thoughts. Click To Tweet

We live in a society that celebrates the fast and quick. It promotes the straight line from A to B.

I’m a proponent of staying on course and saying no to things that don’t serve you. But, I’m also willing to slow down and listen to God’s leading for my life.

Here are 3 ways to slow down and go at tortoise rather than hare speed. To ease up from relentless doing to live a life you love.

1. Create white space in your life

slow down, self care, simple living, simplicity
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Resist the urge to fill your calendar. Money experts tell us to pay ourselves first. Do the same with your time.

Reserve space for solitude and reflection in your schedule. How often is up to your individual needs.

Set aside time to simply sit and think. I like to set a timer for 16 minutes and let my thoughts roam. I get some of my best ideas and solutions to problems during this time.

You might find tears come when you simply sit and linger. These are emotions you’ve repressed while running around doing life at a hectic pace.

What a blessing to give them space to breathe.

You don’t need to judge any emotions that stir. Or do anything about them right now. Let them be and allow them to run through you.

I’ve been using the Pause app by John Eldredge which walks you through guided meditations in 1, 3, 5, and 10-minute increments.

You unlock the next pause session only after you’ve completed three of the previous shorter sessions.

So, you’re rewarded for achieving the goal of slowing down for longer stretches of time. The tortoise would approve!

2. Be flexible with your goals

Goals are a wonderful way to grow and chart progress. But don’t get so stuck on one that you fail to see when God has something else for you.

It’s like forcing a key into a stuck lock. The more you push, the worse it gets, until finally the key breaks and you’re locked out for good.

But you know how sometimes if you loosen your grip on the key or position it differently in the lock, you gain entry? That’s what I mean by holding loosely to your goals.

Sometimes if you loosen your grip on the key or position it differently in the lock, you gain entry. Click To Tweet

You might have to take a less direct route to get where you’re going. Some people call it a pivot.

You’re not giving up on your goal, but approaching it in a new way. And that might take more time.

To know when and whether to pivot in a new direction, you have to be flexible and humble. Less focused on winning and more on learning what’s best for you and the people you serve.

3. Embrace your gifts

slow down

You don’t have to do things the way everyone else does. The gurus say to wake up at 5 am and get productive.

But productivity is not the most important thing in life.

Embracing your gifts means saying no to events and activities that make you feel less like yourself.

You know the ones, where you have to wear a suit of armor to get through them and count the minutes until you can leave?

Do more of what you love instead. What is the thing you lose yourself in, that fulfills you, and makes you feel most like you?

When we don’t do enough of what fulfills us, we find other unhealthy ways to fill the void.

Too much wine, food, shopping, act as counterfeit substitutes. They attempt to soothe our souls but never succeed.

When we don't do enough of what fulfills us, we find other unhealthy ways to fill the void. Click To Tweet

Slow down and take time to understand your gifts. Maybe you’ve lost sight of them amidst all the caregiving and working for money.

Think back to your childhood and what you liked to do when time posed no object. It’s likely those things will still bring joy and meaning into your life.

How to know when you can trust someone: 3 ways

Do you ever have the feeling you can’t trust someone but you’re not sure why? Something about that person makes you close up and refuse to share.

Or perhaps you’re never sure whether plans with them will materialize because they’re unreliable. I’ve had friends like that.

Brene Brown started researching the topic when her daughter experienced a betrayal at school.

She told a couple of friends a secret which they then proceeded to spread around the classroom. The daughter proclaimed she would never trust anyone again.

Searching for a definition, Brown discovered this one: “Trust is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”

Trust is choosing to make something that's important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else. Click To Tweet

And its opposite she described this way: “Distrust is when what I have shared with you as important to me, is not safe with you.”

Maybe you’ve experienced the pain of sharing important information with unsafe people and having them betray you.

To help you avoid that pain in future, here are 3 ways to determine whether you can trust someone.

1. Trust people who are there for you.

It takes time to count on someone and trust is built on a history together.

If someone is there for you when times are good, but disappear when you’re going through something hard, you lose trust in them.

Have you had friends who dismiss you or change the subject when you’re not relentlessly positive and upbeat? Have they abandoned ship when you’re going through a crisis?

Trustworthy friends show up to your father’s funeral even when they didn’t know him well. They’re willing to inconvenience themselves to support you.

Comfort is not the first priority in their relationship with you. They show up even when it’s not easy and you’re not as much fun to be around.

2. Trust people who take responsibility.

We’re all human and we all make mistakes. People you can trust own up to their mistakes.

They apologize for their wrongdoing and try to make amends. They don’t expect you to get over things too quickly.

They’re willing to wait until you’re ready to let them in again. They know an apology is not enough. It has to be backed up with a sincere desire to return to your good graces.

That might mean making some changes. Again, they are willing to sacrifice comfort to keep your trust.

A husband, for instance, who has an affair might allow his wife to check his texts until she feels ready to trust him again.

It’s his way of showing he’s willing to do what it takes to make her feel safe.

3. And who are vulnerable.

You can trust people who share things with you that make them vulnerable. That’s why it feels safer to share our own imperfections with someone who’s already told us theirs.

Trustworthy people don’t need to appear like they have it all together all the time. They are more interested in connecting with you than presenting an image of perfection.

Trustworthy people don't need to appear like they have it all together all the time. Click To Tweet

Vulnerable people are willing to ask for help. They know the art of give and take and are willing to receive from you when they need it.

It’s hard to trust people who only want to give and never receive. It starts to feel like a power play, as if they enjoy feeling strong when you are weak.

In her research, Brown quantified the elements of trust, using the acronym BRAVING.

This helps you understand why you mistrust a certain person when the feeling is so hard to define.

You can also use the metric on yourself to ensure you are someone people can trust!