move your body

Chin up, buttercup! If you have the post-holiday blues, I've got you covered.

A Seattle stormy day…

A Seattle stormy day…

Now that the holiday cheer and merriment that kept you busy from Halloween to New Years is over, you (or a loved one) may be feeling a range of emotions from relief to sadness to fatigue to explainable body aches.

While we expect the holiday season to be busy, somewhat stressful even, we tend to ignore the emotional aftermath, which can leave us navigating unfamiliar, dark territory. Unlike a physical wound where we would apply a bandage, emotional distress can be harder to acknowledge and therefore heal. As humans we also have a propensity to make our emotional wounds worse by discounting them as something else.

Post-holiday blues are unique to everyone. However, when some basic symptoms arise that seem out of the ordinary, you may want to slow down to evaluate why they may be cropping up.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue or insomnia

  • Muscle tension

  • Negative self-talk

  • Lack of focus or ability to concentrate

  • Anxiety

  • Hopelessness

  • Anger

Now, if you simply feel off this winter or show any of the above signs, read through the following list to determine what resonates with you. Pick one or two that you can commit to, to help remedy your symptoms.

Be sure you’re maintaining an excellent baseline for your body to function.

This includes:

  1. Quality sleep (ideally 6.5-9 hours) in a cool, dark room; if this is not possible, carve out a time to take a power nap. Most Americans undervalue sleep, yet if the majority of us would get enough sleep and drink water, our lives would be dramatically different!

  2. Staying hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day; set yourself up right by beginning your day (yes, before your coffee), with a large cup of lukewarm, lemon water to get your body hydrated and active, flushing out toxins that have settled while sleeping.

  3. Eating fresh, whole foods; include vegetables with every meal, as well as some healthy fats (nuts, avocado, coconut and extra-virgin olive oil); skip the sugar and processed foods and drinks. The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is scarier today than in any other modern time. Buy organic meats and know the Dirty Dozen list to avoid breaking the bank on fresh produce.

    People like to bypass the importance of nutrition and focus on the exercise component. I can’t emphasize it enough that you CANNOT exercise your way out of a bad diet. Those abs truly are made (or lost) in the kitchen.

    If this is an area you truly struggle in, I highly suggest you reach to me so that I can help you achieve your body health goals or at the very least outline a plan to help you create healthy eating habits. I have 21-Day Sugar Detox groups monthly or can also coach you one-on-one, digging deeper into the root cause of your health, or lack thereof.

  4. Exercising. This doesn’t have to be intense. Simply start your day with a minimum of 10 minutes of your favorite movements. This could be push-ups in your living room, squats while brushing your teeth, a dance party with your kids, or getting off of the bus or train a stop early to walk to the office, etc. Extra points if you can get outside in natural sunlight while exercising.

  5. Speaking of sunlight, get outside every chance you get. We have a very bad habit of sitting for hours, tucked inside, possibly never seeing the light of day for more than 5 minutes during the winter. By regulating your circadian rhythm, you’ll naturally have a lighter mood. Shoot for 20 minutes outside in the light. Better yet, break up your day with a walk at lunch with your best bud.

Create new  routines in your day that provide proper outlets and boundaries to help you thrive, including:

  1. Breath work – most of us take our breath for granted. Take a few minutes out of your day (ideally first thing in the morning or before going to bed) to slow down and pay attention to your breath. Simply breathe deeply in and out of your nose slowly 10 times or better yet meditate for 10 minutes.

  2. Be grateful – express your gratitude by pen or by voice daily. Finding 3-5 things to be grateful for daily, big or small, has a significant impact on your mental health.

  3. Draw or journal.

  4. Create time for creativity and play; detox from technology and the competing noise from being plugged in. We become more inspired and creativity flows freely in these “white” spaces of time in our day than forcing the hustle mentality.

  5. Get into nature – as noted above.

  6. Exercise – again, as noted above, make this a non-negotiable. If you’re sitting most of the day in front of a computer, be sure to take breaks every couple of hours and walk around the office or go for a walk outside. Getting your eyes off the screen and moving your body will dramatically alter your state and clear your mind, making room for better creativity.

  7. Mantras – your thoughts are incredibly powerful. What do you say about yourself; how do you talk to yourself? If necessary, change the self-talk to something positive and/or proclaiming powerful, optimistic statements that start with “I AM _____!”

  8. Level up your squad – Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” To expand on that, 1) you become more like your entire circle of influence, and 2) you should audit the people you spend time with. Are they encouraging you to be a better person? Do they promote healthy habits? Do they help you be the person you excel to be? Do they help you pursue the activities that speak to your heart? Excellence and joy are contagious –make sure you surround yourself with people that make you better.

  9. In the same vain, genuinely connect with people and environment. Unplug your phone. Show up and sit down for family meals. Look people in the eye. Tell people you appreciate them. Look around at the sights and sounds, the architecture and the diverse people, when you’re walking. Listen closely as someone speaks; think before you speak. Stop and smell the roses.

  10. Celebrate little victories – it’s easy to get swept away in the busyness of the season or the work week or the deadlines, but if we don’t stop and celebrate the little wins, we keep plodding ahead with little to no enthusiasm. By nature, we beat ourselves up over perceived poor performance or mistakes. However, when we celebrate our little wins, we are building our confidence, pride in our work, and reinforcing the good behavior that produced the successful result. in contrast to the hustle attitude, it’s energizing. Don’t forget to find people to celebrate with you!

  11. Give – whether that’s giving of your time by volunteering, giving back to the earth by planting a tree, donating to your favorite charity, or purely giving of your time and being present, the ROI is always more than expected.

  12. Give yourself grace. Some days are simply easier than others, don’t beat yourself up. Especially after the holidays, it will take some time to get back to a normal routine. If all else fails, a good Epsom salt bath usually does the trick!

  13. Break down larger projects into bite size, actionable tasks. When you write your to-do list, either at home or at work, be sure to keep your tasks specific, and limit each day with no more than 8 priority items. Tackle the hardest item first to get it out of the way, gain momentum and be more confident moving forward. (remember, we want to celebrate the little victories!).

  14. Research shows that physical clutter clutters your mind and reduces your productive. Gift yourself the best gift this year and purge your desk or your closets at home. Take the one-minute to tidy up at the end of each day.

While creating new habits can feel overwhelming, take one day at a time. Reject the idea that you must do everything all at once and perfectly. Choose one thing to focus on and master it before moving on. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. So, remember one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow or how often you must get up and try again.

All that being said, if your winter blues seem a shade darker, refusing to lift in the days and weeks upon returning to the office, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common, legit issue that should be addressed properly. Above all, know that you’re not alone in the process.

The top 10 ways to benefit from connecting IRL.

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The heat of the sun on your back.

The fresh air in your lungs.

The impeccable views and sounds of nature and life buzzing around.

Whether I’m out in the great outdoors on an inspiring hike, dipping my toes in the sea, on a run into town (typically pushing a stroller with over-sized children in it), or even simply sitting on the outside patio at my local coffee shop, there is something about getting out of the house and feeling the energy around you.

However, all to often I’m a homebody.

Sure, there’s the laundry to do, the dishes to wash, the floors to clean, the piles of school artwork to recycle, the side hustle to grind through, yet sifting through those I find excuses for not wanting to put on real clothes and leave the house.

There is a time and place for comfort, yet we need to create the space to get out and connect, both with nature and with other human beings!

In a recent newsletter (you can sign-up on my website) I sent to my health coaching clients, I discussed the four pillars of health:

  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Connection

Today I want to focus on connection.

We so often dismiss it as a necessary element in our overall health; much like sleep, we’re fooled by the illusion that we don’t need it to thrive.

Numerous studies have shown that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Time and time again, it’s been proven that social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being. When a strong social connection is maintained, we:

  • increased chance of longevity by 50%

  • strengthen our immune system

  • recover from disease faster

Brene Brown, has said, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Regardless of what where you fall within the spectrum of introvert or extrovert, we are made to connect. We are social creatures by nature.

Shiny objects tend to lure us, deceiving us into believing the fancy cars, the money, the power, the big homes and lavish vacations will fulfill us. While those objects aren’t inherently bad, we need to be conscious of how we’re using them to make us feel. This also tends to flesh itself out in the way we treat our body – whether we binge on food or starve ourselves or put up silly boundaries around the “good” and “bad” foods we eat, even over exercising to make an amends for one thing or another. In the end, all of this will disappoint us.

All along we’ve been looking for meaningful connections - relationships.

It is a fundamental human need to belong, to be accepted, and loved.

You are not too sensitive or too much to want these things. They are good, natural desires!

In fact, people who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteemgreater empathy, are more trusting and cooperative and, therefore, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.

Those are all wonderful benefits of being connected! No one should ever dismiss the power of a hug, a phone call, a date, or even a simple touch, let alone these desires.

They are good, healthy feelings.

Being present and making time for those you care about is not hard, rather putting the effort in to create the time and space can be difficult in today’s culture of finding pride in our busy-ness and independence.

Some practical tips to connect:

  1. say hello or smile at a stranger

  2. Go to local farmers market and talk to the vendors. I’ve heard the best stories from our smoked salmon vendor. As an ex-Marine World whale trainer, he has a bounty of stories to share of the tricks the whales would play on the trainers. You don’t have to spend countless hours with these people, but a weekly hello and five minute conversation reaps massive connection rewards. You feel known AND you’ve learned a thing or two.

  3. Make time with a friend (spontaneous, last minute calls are fine!) to go for a 20-minute walk or have a quick dinner.

  4. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

  5. Turn your phone off and talk to your family after dinner.

  6. Read a book with your kids or spouse.

  7. Go for a hike and eavesdrop on the conversations – both those nature provides as well as the other hikers!

  8. Invite your neighbors over for a seasonal treat.

  9. Grab a coworker and buy them an afternoon drink.

  10. Make small talk with anyone helping you – the cashier at the grocery store or at the coffee shop, your waitress, your kid’s teacher, the person in line behind you, etc.

These are just a few to get you started. How do you like to connect?

P.S. Don’t Google “ideas how to connect.” The only options it offers are troubleshooting tips to connect to the internet. That’s not what we’re going for here!