Friday, November 26, 2010

9 Ways to Combat Winter Blah

Yes, I know it's Black Friday. I know there are Door Buster sales all over. I slept in anyway. It's not that I don't care, it's that I don't want what they're trying to sell. Trust me, if the things on my list were hugely discounted, I'd have gotten up at dark-thirty and been first in line. Retailers, please do not mistake my lack of interest for signs of possession by the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge. (Instead, please consider that some of us still shop for others at this time of year, and as much as I love my mom and my friends, I'm NOT buying all of them huge flatscreen TVs, so how about a sale on something normal people might actually ship?) The only thing I went out for last year was Home Depot's sale on Christmas lights. It's a little discouraging, actually.

Not enough to bring on any blues, though. When it's not SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but you're still blue, what can you do? (Was that a horrible segue, or what?)

We aren't talking true clinical depression, either. But you know it when you feel it: an especially uninspired mood, boredom, oversleeping, loss of energy, and loss of interest in things you normally enjoy. Some people withdraw socially - and not just because they need a mental break from the crowds at the stores. Some experience unexplained weight gain (more than seven pounds or so is significant). Note the keyword here is "unexplained". A lot of us pack on as much as eleven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's - go figure!

Obviously, it's a good idea to check with your doctor to rule out any physical cause like a virus or thyroid problem. And of course if your symptoms get worse, you should check with your favorite mental health professional!

But in the meantime, here are a few things to try:

1. Get outside on sunny days. Even for five or ten minutes.

2. Exercise regularly. Outside or inside, at least fifteen minutes a day, at least three days a week. Shovel snow, take a walk, have a snowball fight with the kids, or just do push-ups, but get active. A good workout will stimulate the brain’s production of endorphins!

3. Work with your body’s hibernation tendencies instead of against it. When it’s dark by dinner, it’s easier to lose track of time and end up staying up later than we should. Limit your caffeine intake to morning and midday, or take a calcium or melatonin supplement an hour before bedtime if you have trouble getting to bed on time.

4. Give yourself something new and exciting to think about or do, and then allow yourself a little “you” time every day to devote to it. Read a chapter a day of the latest novel by your favorite author. Master a new video game. Set a new fitness goal and work toward it.

5. It’s easy to go overboard with the menu but try to maintain a balanced diet. Alternate cookie snacks with baby carrots, and stick to a higher fiber breakfast. If you include a little protein with every meal – including breakfast, it may help you avoid some snack cravings. Instead of leftover pie and ice cream right before bed, have a bowl of healthy cereal.

6. Manage your stress. ‘Tis the season for family and friends. Hang out with them, have a good time, vent a little, then laugh a little. Stay connected, even if you don’t feel like it at first.

7. Start a journal. Write a sentence about your general mood of the day each evening, and then write three more sentences about positive things that occurred that day.

8. Rock out in the car. Turn off the boring news radio on the way home and listen to your favorite CD or Christmas music instead.

9. Don’t neglect your spiritual self. Get the family to church. Encourage everyone to thank God for their blessings.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chronic Disorganization Venting

I know not everyone has strong organizational skills. I understand and accept it. But is it too much to ask for adults to exhibit a bare minimum? Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.

My daughter is friends with a girl down the street. A while back, we decided it would be nice to host a sleep-over on a Saturday night. (What was I thinking?) Girl was invited, girl reported back that she could attend. On Friday afternoon, girl reports that in fact, she cannot attend because there's a family reunion on Saturday and her whole family would be gone. Is it just me, or do you also think Mum and Dad would have known about this at the beginning of the week when they gave permission?

Despite huge disappointment, the whole thing is re-scheduled for the following weekend. Parental consent follows. This time, on Saturday morning, it is revealed that both parents have to work that evening and girl will not be allowed over. Again, maybe it's just me, but knowing where these parents work, I know their work schedule is not a surprise, so it seems very strange that they'd give permission, knowing full well they won't be available.

Here's another example.

I know a woman who runs a regular, bi-weekly meeting at her house. She originally scheduled it to run from 3:30 to 5:30, but then handed out information saying 3:15 to 5:15. Then she gets flustered when people show up at 3:15, claiming they are early and she's not ready or she needs to run a "quick errand."

Of the last ten meetings, two have been cancelled without notice. Regardless of the schedules of those attending, she's also changed the time slot just hours before the regularly scheduled meeting, and she's twice assigned random tasks to attendees (bring snacks for a dozen people, give a presentation) with one day's notice. Just doing the math here, but it looks like only half of her meetings go as planned. That's not an impressive track record.

I imagine some of you have been inconvenienced by poor organizers. What do you think? I know plenty of people who could use help with clutter control - a professional organizer would be helpful - but they still manage to tell time and know how to use a calendar. I even know a hoarder who can do that. And I'm not talking about people who play passive-aggressive by being consistently late. I'm talking about chronic failure when it comes to relatively simple tasks that most second-graders could handle. So is there any reason we should expect it from adults?

I'd love to know how widespread this problem is. If you know somebody like this, please please please let me know what they do and how you cope.

Friday, November 12, 2010

12 Red Flags for Relationships

Consider the following statements in the context of your most recent relationship, or what you’ve observed in your own life over the past two or three years.

1. You become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to a person without taking the time to get to know him or her. We’re talking a minimum of 30 to 40 hours of face time, people, not a steamy weekend of phone calls or IMing with someone you just met on a dating website.

2. You fear abandonment & loneliness (causing you to stay in and return to painful, destructive and abusive relationships, ‘cause hey, it’s better than being alone).

3. You involve yourself in more than one relationship at a time, emotionally, sexually, or both. You know who you are, playa. You’re the one with the “flavor of the week” thing going on.

4. You confuse love with obsession, using controlling behaviors directed towards your partner(s) with the hope of keeping him or her from leaving you. (You know this is you if, when the partner begins expressing a lack of interest, you refuse to see it, you cry and beg or otherwise embarrass yourself, or you suddenly realize it would be the perfect time to do that brake job on her car, or offer to clean his apartment or do his laundry.)

5. You feel empty inside, even while in a relationship, causing you to search for new
love interests. This might even be a compulsive behavior.

6. You spend money you don't have on a romantic interest – either because you want to impress Pookie with your wealth, or because when Pookie calls, you and your credit card jump.

7. You use sex & emotional involvement to manipulate and control others.

8. You become preoccupied with a romantic interest and are unable to concentrate. You probably have a problem establishing boundaries; some of the preoccupation may stem from that hottie you met a week ago calling and texting you a dozen times a day.

9. You attach yourself to emotionally unavailable people and/or abusive partners. Why? Well, that’s a textbook in itself, but let’s sum it up by saying that if you aren't prepared to be involved in a healthy emotional relationship, you'll unconsciously seek out others who are also unprepared for a healthy emotional relationship.

10. You obsess over, monitor and perhaps stalk the object of your affection. See #8, except it’s you doing the calling and texting.

12. You assign unrealistic qualities to those you are attracted to, believing they can bring you happiness and "save" you from your loneliness.

Recognize any of these patterns?

Just one or two ring a bell? It’s time to evaluate your expectations and boundaries.

Found yourself nodding in agreement with a handful? Strongly consider professional coaching or counseling to help you work on the imbalances in your relationship.

Most of them sound familiar? Your love is not love but an obsession. Sometimes we all need a reminder of what a healthy relationship should be – now it’s your turn. Make an appointment with a relationship coach or mental health pro as soon as possible.

Monday, November 8, 2010


My computer seems to have crashed.

I'm not entirely sure what's causing the problem, but so far, all bets are on a conflict between Windows upgrades and my operating system (good ol' XP - I loved it so!).

Going shopping for a new machine this week. It's a bit weird, really - my machine was custom-built for me just over three years ago, and now I can get an even better unit off the shelf at any mass retailer, for the same price.

You'd think this would reduce my operating costs. Technically, it will. Which means that as soon as I'm not borrowing a computer to post blogs, I will be considering offering some special deals for the holidays. If you have any suggestions, or want to make a case for yourself as being deserving of a smokin' discount, email me ASAP @