Busting the Winter Blues
Finally, the days are starting to get a bit longer. It’s almost 5 p.m. before the sun goes down. I don’t know about you, but the lack of sunlight gets to be hard to handle. For many it leads to the winter blues. Lot’s don’t even know that is what they have. The winter blahs often masks itself as tired or overwhelmed. As a business owner, this is a feeling we all share at some point or another, making it harder to know when it’s more than just needing a nap.
I recently asked the question of how do you fight the winter blues in a local women in business chat group. Here are some of the suggestions that came back, along with a few of my own.
Okay, let’s be honest, a vacation solves almost any problem. There’s nothing quite like toes in the sand and a drink in the hand to wash your worries away. Enjoying time away from our cell phone, the constant bing of a new email coming in or having your project interrupted constantly. These are all parts of running a business, yet they chip away at your productivity and quite frankly your ability to fully release into a project. The solution is rarely being able to shut off the phone from ringing or locking the door so no one can come - it doesn’t tend to allow sales to grow that way. But rearranging the schedule so that when you have a bigger project due or something that is time-sensitive that requires more of your direct attention, you have a staff member who comes in strictly for the sole purpose of running interference. This allows you a better chance of completing the task at hand without interruption. Now back to vacation. There are studies that show vitamin “sea” is one of the most powerful ways to relieve stress and anxiety. The color blue is proven to be a relaxing color. The color of the ocean has overwhelming results across many studies to help reduce feelings of overwhelm and increase feelings of peace and calm. Staring out into the ocean actually has the ability to change our brain waves. To take us almost into a meditative state without even trying. If you’ve ever had a nap on a beach, you probably know what I’m talking about. Walking in the sand allows you to better center yourself. Let’s not forget how much that natural Vitamin D helps. Sunshine and fresh air are nature's vitamins.
If you can’t get away for a vacation to the beach this winter, fear not, I’ve got many more options available to you.
Take a Hike
Seriously, get outside and go for a walk. Your body will thank you. There is something to be said for a good walk outside. The combination of the fresh air and sunshine can be a game-changer that we simply aren’t even aware of.
I love to walk the dog, but with fear of falling and breaking something on the ice combined with crazy cold weather (yep, I’m a fair-weather prairie girl for sure) I took a break from walking. It didn’t take long for that to be reflected in my energy and mood. The sad part was I didn’t notice how much it had affected the dog. We live in the country so she is able to go out on her own and run around, but not taking her out and doing things with her drove her into a winter depression. Getting back at it has helped not just my mood but definitely hers as well.
What’s That Smell?
Essential Oils have been used for centuries, but right now they are making a huge comeback, and with good reason. Essential oils have so many purposes that help the body to naturally fill in some of the gaps.
If you’re feeling a bit of a slump in your mood here are the most suggested oils to try.
Lemon, helps with clarity and is great to use when you have work to do with numbers. I love to use this one when I’m feeling like I have a foggy brain and have some accounting to do.
Frankincense, while not my favorite smell (although I read somewhere when you don’t like the smell it’s a sign that your body needs it even more) it is supposed to be great for helping kicks those winter blues to the curb.
Peppermint, this is a great one for a burst of energy or to help clear a headache. Peppermint is another favorite go-to of mine.
Blends, while there are many combinations that allow you to get the most out of your oils, I’ve been told that mixing Bergamot with Citrus and Peppermint is a great natural pick me up, I’m going to have to give this one a try myself.
Microgreens are something that for years made me cringe. Today now that I’ve outgrown my childhood aversion to sprouts - yes mom we saw when you tried to hide them in our lunches, I’m developing quite the taste for them. Perhaps it helps that we have a local business in our community who grows them and sells them fresh and crisp all year long. Microgreens are filled with natural vitamins and can add a little something even the most boring sandwiches or salads.
I heard recently a tip that said when you warm Sunflower Microgreens slightly they develop a buttery flavor. Imagine the flavors of butter without any of the calories - that sounds like a winner to me!
Light it Up!
In recent years scientists have really started to push the use of light therapy. Most commonly used as a lamp or a panel that you sit in front of. They are scientific bulbs that are designed to filter UV lights, but be mindful that not all do. You need to receive that light via your eyes indirectly. Sitting with your eyes closed won’t have the same effect. Your skin won’t absorb the benefits. Using a SAD lamp is best done at the same time each day (ideally early in the morning) and for the same amount of time. Talk to your doctor to know what kind of schedule is best for you.
The latest technique that I’m dying to try out is the Wake Up Lamp. This is an alarm clock style lamp that is designed to mimic a sunrise. The light will gradually “wake up” and is intended to provide the same natural benefits of a sunrise wakeup. The idea is that it helps your hormones to be better balanced than it is when you wake up in the dark. I’ve got to get to the store and pick one of these up for myself this week, I can’t wait to try it out.
Rock it Out…
A great way to beat the winter bah humbugs is to simply rock it out. Surrounding yourself with the power of music and energy of those around you can lift you up in record time. Whether you’re headed to a concert with your favorite band or as I’ve done this year, join a “Pound” Fitness class. I’m loving rocking out and pounding out in the dark, lit only by the laser lights set up around the room. Okay, let’s be honest, if you’re not comfortable working out then doing it in a dark room is the best way to do it. It’s a full senses experience, the vibration of the music floods through and keeping up with the movements means that for those 45 minutes, my brain doesn’t even have time to process anything else going on around it.
Whether you’re pounding out in a fitness class or dancing the night away, get out and enjoy some music and get your body moving.
Do What YOU Love
When you are busy, with commitments coming at you from all directions it can seem really selfish to take time for yourself. For years I heard “self-care” “you can’t fill others up from an empty tank” “you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you can put on anyone else's”. It doesn’t matter which cliche it is, the reality is for many the idea of being selfish is a hard pill to swallow, but harder yet is finding time to “add one more thing” to the schedule. For years I didn’t have time to do something that was just for me. Why? Because I spent far too much time feeling guilty about doing something that was just for me.
Find a craft that you love to do, a hobby that lets you escape into, maybe you love to read or write. Perhaps you have a favorite ministry that you want to listen to simply take a loooonngg soak in the tub. Whatever it is, stay in the moment of that moment. Don’t worry about what is on that to-do list. After All, it’s still going to be waiting for you when you’re done, and when you’re more relaxed you’ll be better able to clear it off the list when you’ve got more energy.
Talk to the Professionals
Burnout, Winter Blues and Depression are all a real thing. For years I thought I was just tired. I had no concept at all that I was suffering from Burnout. I always thought that was something that happened to other people. To people who just didn’t know how to push through. This last year has been a struggle as I have finally had to face my burnout head-on.
Reach out to the professionals. There are many nonmedical options available from vitamins, lifestyle changes and ‘happy coffees’, but there is no shame in needing something medicinal to aid your body to heal itself.
Therapy is another great option. Just as a bucket can only hold so much water, your body, mind, and soul can only hold so much as well. By talking with a trained therapist you will learn new coping skills that will help you gently offload some of what keeps filling your bucket, and you just might learn why you keep letting your bucket overflow with things that don’t need to be there and in turn let you make room for the things that will light you up, instead of weighing you down.
Being a business owner is hard work, and at times can be very isolating. Know that you’re never alone, there is always others that are probably going through something very similar. If you don’t have the support you need in your circle of friends or family, then reach out to a professional. Sometimes just having space where you can put words to your thoughts let them leave your mind, rather than staying trapped inside with no release.