12 Easy Tips to Combat Winter Blues & Seasonal Stresses

Unmanaged stress has become one of the major contributors to permanent illness. It is also a major factor for its impact on workplace wellness as well as the economy. The electronic revolution, the economic downturn and modern society has become very fast through recent advancements and the pandemic. Technology now supports a 24/7 availability culture.

As a result more and more people feel under pressure, finding it hard to prioritise their energy. Thus it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. For some reason this time of  year enhances and speeds up an already hyped energy. We often call it the winter blues and apportion it to seasonal stress.

Below are 12 exquisite tips to combat winter blues and seasonal stresses at a level that makes it a healthy driver rather than a poisonous cocktail:

      1.     Diversion
      2.     Beware of mind traps
      3.     Recognise opportunities
      4.     Amateur dramatics -  Mood tracker
      5.     Remember, remember….
      6.     Chameleon walk: step by step and one at the time
      7.     Gratitude
      8.     Predict your man holes
      9.     Modelling
      10.     Brag a little
      11.     Breathe
      12.     Accountability

For those of you who are interested in what I mean exactly with each of these points, I have explained them in a little detail and with examples. So please read on and let me know what you think.


1.       Diversion

Diversion of focus may also well be a form of distraction of whatever is adding to feeling uptight and getting you worked up.

For example: A smoker or chocoholic trying to kick the habit you might feel increasingly uptight if you keep your focus on how much you miss a cigarette or a piece of chocolate.

How would you divert or distract yourself from the thought of cigarettes or chocolate at this point?

Distraction examples: An activity that keeps your hands and mind occupied such as crossword puzzles, a training walk with your dog, board games, sports, de-cluttering, painting, playing an instrument gardening…. I am sure you get the idea 😉


2.       Beware of mind traps

Energy blockages are a result of ongoing unhelpful thinking pattern or language, which leads to negative emotions and action. Anxiety is compound or contracted energy resulting from negative emotion such as fear of something we think might be happening in the future.

The negative self-talk (also known as thinking) can sound something like:

I CAN’T do this. This will NEVER work. I am ALWAYS doing this WRONG. I really want to do this BUT I just can’t. I MUST get this done today. I HAVE TO…. I SHOULD …. I’ll TRY…..

Using these and other similar words in our thinking, self-talk or when speaking invites doubt to creep in and knocks the wind out of our sails. Our energy starts to fade.

We are often totally unaware of our own mind traps (see words in bold above). The mood tracker below helps identify the ones we use most often. Once we realise which ones we are using we can support ourselves by saying things like:

  •   I wonder how this will plan out…
  •   I have all the resources I need to make this work…
  •   I am enjoying this experience right now
  •   What’s the best thing that can happen

When you start practising these different ways of thinking notice how the language impacts your body and mind in an uplifting and dynamic way.


3.       Recognise opportunities

The simplest way of recognising opportunities that have come your way is by tracking your experiences and moods by journalling (written or spoken / recorded).

Tracking your mood, results and thoughts help identify pattern, when you are going round in circles or experiencing disempowering situations as well as opportunities for finding successful approaches. Breaking not useful habits or stopping behaviour becomes easier once we read and recognise what we do from the records in the journal.

Then pick one pattern from your journal and ask yourself:

  • What happened as a result of my behaviour/thinking/language?
  • What was the result of my behaviour?
  • Which responses did I receive?
  • How can I experience this as learning/ growth opportunity?
  • What do I want to do differently next time?

Working through this process in that way allows to recognise opportunities rather than take defeat. It is just learning, no failure, rather a new opportunity to help me on the journey.

Setting a new behavioural goal releases and activates Dopamine in the brain which affects the ability to feel pleasure.


4.       Amateur dramatics 

Let’s pretend we are in an amateur dramatic group. The role is to imagine being overjoyed with happiness with all our senses. Imagine what it would be like to feel overjoyed with happiness. Live it in your mind’s eye and notice what happens in your body.

Now play a number of other roles. Observe what else happens when we feel positive emotions such as love, joy, fun and excitement. Scientifically, we know that energy expands which in turn allows all energy channels in the body to be open and free flowing. Just like a bubbling river on a summer’s day.

Feel into your body and notice how these shifts are taking place. Close your eyes and take your time to fully experience the feeling of energy contracting and expanding with every breath.

Then in contrast recall a sad moment that you may have experienced in the past. Don’t dwell on it too long, just notice what is happening in your body while you do so. Then immediately imagine a moment where you have been very excited and felt loved – experience that feeling now.

Have you ever noticed how your mood changes when you are around water? Watching a little well or waterfall, standing by a beach and watching the waves collapse or paddling in a little pool of water…

Water helps in many ways, writes Elaine Aron. When over aroused, keep drinking it, a big glass of it once an hour. Walk beside some water, look at it and listen to it. Get into some if you can for a bath or a swim. Hot tubs and hot springs are popular for good reason.

Keep hold of these positive feelings and store them somewhere in your mind where you know they are safe and where you can go back to them any time you like just by snipping your fingers.


5.       Remember, remember….precious moments

Take a moment to remember what YOUR reason for living is.

When a friend of mine was experiencing severe depression she felt worthless. Then in one of our conversations we talked about her family, her children, grandchildren, godchildren and pets, as well as her garden. We looked at what my friend adds to their lives and what is going on in her mind, when she is there for each of these people and living organism.

In talking, she realised that recently she has not been seeing her grandchildren, godchildren and her pet had been at the vets for a while. With winter approaching, she was unable to spend any time out in her beloved garden. All of a sudden she realised that not looking after all of these things has left a big gap in her life and that looking after them in her own way is the reason that she feels fulfilled and happy.  So she decided to make a list of all her reasons for living.

The purpose of telling you this story is to point your awareness to the fact that we all have situations in our past where we have done great things, took excellent decisions, overcame fears and overachieved on something.  So we have done it once, yes?  We know, we can do it,  we know we have done it in the past and so there is no reason not to do it again!

Other people's achievements can also bolster your courage, and remembering your own can do the same.

Remembering when you have dealt with a similar situation successfully in the past not only shows you that you have the resources within you to deal with this situation (because you have done so successfully in the past, right?). They also show you that nothing bad happened as a result of you taking this step.  Rather, things most likely got heaps better for you after taking the step you took then.

So from that, you know that you can do it again!  Just remember how you felt after you have taken action. Even if you can’t get to these resources right now, in this moment. You know they are there and it is within your own power to call on them whenever you are ready for it and need to.

Remember the Pygmalion effect says:  if you expect the worst – you get it.  In other words: What you focus on persists.  Words, ideas and beliefs shape our daily lives – so choose to get out of victim mode, you can be creative and do it.


6.       Chameleon walk: step by step and one at the time

On mornings that I wake up with a nauseating knot of anxiety in my stomach, everything seems overwhelming. Getting myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth feels like I'm running a triathlon in the heat of the summer!  So I don't attempt the triathlon. The only thing I have to worry about is getting my left foot down on the ground. Then my right one. Then I have to stand.

I'll look at my to-do list and cross off two thirds. Then I ask myself: "What single thing on this list is what gets me closer to where I want to be?" Everything else can wait. Then I start with the first thing and do the first mini-movement that I am able to do in order to accomplish that.

Take one day, one hour, one Minute at the time. All you have to do is get through now and the next small period.


7.       Gratitude

Everyone has things in their lives that they can appreciate and be grateful for.  Electricity, water, heating, roof above our heads, food and all of it in abundance for starters.... Saying “Thank you” out aloud every day manifests the good in your life.  The “law of attraction” explains how this can attract even more abundance in your life.

So go ahead and practise one thank you every day and see what happens.  Notice the little things that contribute to your life well lived and recognise its beauty.  It’ll help you with getting this left foot in front of the right throughout the day.

At any point throughout the day that you may struggle, take a few minutes out, close your eyes, breathe and gently let the world disappear. Then go within to focus on what you are grateful for. Soon you’ll regain equilibrium.


8.       Predict your man holes

When I became a non-smoker, it was helpful to identify the “man holes”. Those times I most enjoyed lighting up lung rockets: in the morning with my coffee, in the afternoon with my coffee, in the car on the way home from work and in the evening with my coffee and a Chocolate bar.

I made a note of these times on my "dysfunction page" in my journal with suggestions of activities to replace the cigarettes. In the morning I began eating cereal and grapefruit, which doesn’t really go well with a cigarette! I bought a tape to listen to in the car. An afternoon walk replaced the 3:00 smoke break.  I decided that I would do some mediation instead of having the cigarette whenever I felt under pressure and previously would have reached for my “cigies”.

There is a beautiful poem by Jon Adler called Awareness that beautifully describes the purpose of this tip.

I walk down the street; there is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost…. I am helpless.  It isn’t my fault.  It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in again.  I can’t believe I’m in the same place, but it isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there.  I still fall in… it is a habit.  My eyes are open.  I know where I am.  It is my fault.  I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

I walk down another street.


9.       Modelling

This is your chance to be a model!  How?  Well ...  instead of modelling cloths and accessories you’ll be modelling behaviours and mindsets.  Ready?

Think about someone who has been through what you are experiencing and how they conquered this particular part in their life?

  • What decisions did they make that helped them get out of the situation they didn’t like?
  • How can you approach your problem with the same method?

So for example:  You are starting out your new business, aside from getting someone who makes you accountable for your actions, you would first get a biography of a person that has been extremely successful doing so (i.e. Richard Branson). Find out exactly how they did it and then apply the same techniques and tactics your hero did.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?


10.   Brag a little

Don’t worry – you don’t need to brag to anyone other than yourself!  Here is my story from when I first moved to England with my then five year old daughter. I didn’t know anyone other than my husband, only spoke tourist English, didn’t have a job to go to, nor a school for my girl and didn’t know how to get around London. I felt like a little ant alone in the desert!

I felt excited but also very lonely, low. Then I realised that I was starting to lose my self-esteem.  So I decided to start talking to people, doing little things for them like having their kids for dinner, offering to help the neighbour carry their shopping, look after people’s pets while they were away or cultivate the shared garden.

By talking to people I found out about further education available to me which I took up.  As a result my confidence grew quickly.

When you are at such a low point in your confidence/esteem levels as I was then, this outside affirmation becomes your elixir until you have cemented your esteem hard enough to find it from within.

Now every time, in periods when I feel low or doubt myself I pull out my confidence journal or brag file that I collected over time and I am soon again back to my full confidence.

What goes in your confidence journal or brag file, as I lovingly call it?


11.   Breathe

Take a conscious, cleansing breath and remember it is the portal into life! What is the first thing we do when we arrive on this earth?  Breathing is your life line and the most important part of transforming your life and we so often ignore its importance.

Breathing releases endorphins and oxygen to all cells in the body that help circulation, keeps the mind clear, makes us feel happy, look good and feel even stronger and more confident.  It revitalises and energises every cell of your body, thus making us more resilient and allows us to stay grounded.


12.   Accountability

What is the strongest motivators for peak performance in the professional world? According to some research these are: Purpose, passion and a value of contribution which are supported by clear goals regularly.

Twelve-step groups use this method of accountability to keep people sober and on the recovery wagon.  People have a sponsor, a mentor or coach to teach them the program, to guide them toward physical, mental, and spiritual health.Several people served as my accountability partners throughout the years. For example: Katie (my coach & mentor), my doctors, my yoga teacher and my daughter. They are in my daily “thank yous” allowing me to have them around.

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily. Zig Ziglar