Therapy advice to put in your pocket and take with you.

Posts tagged ‘winter blues’

Winter Whines

The holidays are over. It’s winter here in the states. And I’m whiney. It seems, so is everyone else. If I had a dollar for every time someone has complained about the cold this week, I could buy a warmer jacket! You’d think we live in a cold climate where it really gets into the scary negative wind chill, but we don’t, we live in the Midwest where it gets kind of cold, every single year at this time. But I also know this is relative. I remember being in Glen Ellen, California one summer and it got into the low 60’s and everyone was complaining how cold it was. Granted, it was summer, but this was a big deal! Where are the jackets?!! The more I think about it however, I’m not sure it’s about the cold. I think it’s about change. People don’t think they can handle change. It’s a new season, a new year, the end of something familiar. They dread it, they stress over it, and yet they deal with it successfully all the time, every year. Usually, the build up to it, the worry, is worse than the change itself. And what they tell themselves in anticipation will influence how they handle it. Here are some examples.Funny-winter-quote

“I hate this weather.” “I can’t deal with this.” “This sucks.” “I’m not a winter person.” “I don’t like this.” “I wish it was over.” Do any of these phrases sound familiar? These are comments just in relation to winter and cold, but are reflective of any change. If we tell ourselves we hate it, we can’t handle it, then our experience will be worse not better. Sometimes we act like a negative friend, constantly whispering how we can’t handle it or how bad it’s going to be, and we just feel worse and worse. But what if we did the opposite? What if we were the best friend ever to ourselves, whispering “you got this!” or “hey, you’ve been through this before, you can do it again.” Or we could even use humor or reality checks like, “Really Self? It’s not as big a deal as you’re making it. Chill out.”

My point is, if we really stop to think about what we are worried about, many times it is something that should be a 2 instead of an 8 on a scale of 1-10. I have kids draw mountains and mole hills and explain the old phrase “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill,” and their parents say, “Oh yeah….” Additionally, if we thought about exactly what we are complaining about, we’d realize we have handled this same scenario time and time again. If it something we really do hate, maybe we should make a change. If you complain every day about going to work, it might be time to find a new job. If you complain every year about winter, it might be time to move south. Things we feel we have no control over, we often have more choices than we think, and if it truly is an 8 on the 1-10 scale, making a change could help your overall happiness. If it is a 2 or 3, then you might need a perspective change. Tell yourself to find the good in things, don’t allow yourself to complain excessively, and develop a positive mantra that helps you take on the challenges with a better attitude. If there are things that you repeatedly dread, like winter, then plan for them. Know yourself, know you don’t like it, and plan something to look forward to during that time instead of just whining through the whole chilly season.

It’s January, yep. It’s winter, yep. It’s cold, definitely yep. But we got this. We did it last year and the year before, and we survived just fine. Soon it will be summer and hot, and then we’ll have something new to complain about. Or look forward to…

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Blah, just Blah.

The tree is down, the decorations put away. Nostalgic music is gone for another season. Stresses and conflicts we had late last Fall got put on hold, shoved under the rug so we could get through family holiday events without tension, but now those holidays are over. In their place are the added pounds, the holiday credit card bills, and the pressure to set a personal goal we probably won’t keep. Welcome to January.

This can be a dangerous time for mental health. People set deadlines (just gotta get through the holidays) and feel pressure to make big changes at the first of the year. Three big things I see in January in counseling are divorces filed, alcohol relapses because the vacation time at work started over, and the winter blues. I also hear about financial overwhelm from the bills, dread over not knowing what a new year will bring, fatigue and feeling unmotivated.

I don’t bring up these things to be a downer, but to point out that if you feel these things you are not alone. And you don’t have to face it alone. Help is available through counseling or support groups, work EAP (employee assistance), church groups, financial counseling, and even online support. There are books on these subjects and 24 hour hotlines around. If you feel overwhelmed, please reach out. If you have a friend or family member who struggles with mental health issues, please reach out to them. This is not something you have to face alone, and it is not something that will last forever.

Blah, just Blah.

The tree is down, the decorations put away. Nostalgic music is gone for another season. Stresses and conflicts we had late last Fall got put on hold, shoved under the rug so we could get through family holiday events without tension, but now those holidays are over. In their place are the added pounds, the holiday credit card bills, and the pressure to set a personal goal we probably won’t keep. Welcome to January.

This can be a dangerous time for mental health. People set deadlines (just gotta get through the holidays) and feel pressure to make big changes at the first of the year. Three big things I see in January in counseling are divorces filed, alcohol relapses because the vacation time at work started over, and the winter blues. I also hear about financial overwhelm from the bills, dread over not knowing what a new year will bring, fatigue and feeling unmotivated.

I don’t bring up these things to be a downer, but to point out that if you feel these things you are not alone. And you don’t have to face it alone. Help is available through counseling or support groups, work EAP (employee assistance), church groups, financial counseling, and even online support. There are books on these subjects and 24 hour hotlines around. If you feel overwhelmed, please reach out. If you have a friend or family member who struggles with mental health issues, please reach out to them. This is not something you have to face alone, and it is not something that will last forever.

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