Loneliness – the feeling that can happen as you stand in the middle of a crowded room.

Sometimes during this time of year it is easy for the feeling of loneliness to overtake us.  The Holidays have passed, family has all gone back home to their day-to-day lives and on top of all that, the weather is gloomy and cold.  Has this feeling ever crept up on you?  Loneliness in some form, happens to all of us at some point in our lives.  It happens to different degrees and for different reasons, but it happens. There is a big difference between being alone and feeling lonely.  If you are nodding your head as you read this, than I suspect, you’ve experienced both.  I thought it would be a great time to share some ways to combat this awful feeling since my personal goal this year is to keep that holiday cheer and inner happy glow burning bright.  Loneliness is a feeling that can creep up and extinguish that beautiful glow inside of us if we are not standing guard over it and making the most of the days, week, and months as they pass by.  Here are a few tips from myself and a few others out there in internet land.

Be aware of yourself – pay attention to your moods and feelings.  Don’t go too long without a quick gut check.  Are you happy, sad, bored, or restless?  Staying on top of your feelings can help to keep the ugly ones at bay.  When we find ourselves getting a bit down, don’t wait to change our situation, be proactive and jump start your emotions into a happier phase

Write it down – journal, be creative, and be expressive.  Sometimes, there is a good reason for the lonely feeling and we just need to work through it.  Keeping a journal is a great way to work through our emotions and understand them rather than let them mill around and rent space in our head.

Look for like-minded people – If you are feeling alone vs. lonely, it’s time to find people you have things in common with and get active.  Start talking, texting, e-mailing and fill your schedule or time with conversations and activities.

Make your current bonds even stronger – Reach out to your friends and families.  Learn more about them and let them learn about you.  Make a lunch date with an old friend, go for a road trip to visit a cousin, or plan to go shopping or see a movie with a sibling.

Be aware of your health – don’t let the cold weather get to you and don’t let feeling down lead to not eating or sleeping well.  At the first sign of a health change, again, be proactive.  Fight back with a change in your lifestyle.  Start taking walks, work out at home to a you-tube video, plan meals or try new recipes to find enjoyment in eating rather than feeling like food doesn’t taste good.  Eat smaller meals rather than one large one if you aren’t in the mood to eat.

Set goals to get involved, set a schedule, volunteer, and get involved in your community.  Use your resources.  Read the happenings on the bulletin board of a local coffee shop. Take a class at a DIY store or craft store.  Take time to learn a new skill or hobby.

Surround yourself with things that provoke positivity.  (Humorous feeds on social media, comedy on television or movies, Art with positive slogans in it).  I can tell you, I have even gone the distance of writing my self notes and leaving them around the house from time to time.

Just to be clear, I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist or hold any medical degree whatsoever.  I am just a lady who has felt lonely a time too many and wants to share how I manage to get through a few dark days in hopes that you can do the same.  If you are feeling overwhelming sadness or significant loss of interest in life, please seek professional help or reach out to someone.  This is just a blog to offer suggestions and a virtual hug for those who need one.  Sometimes, it’s nice to know that others have been there, and made it through dark days so you can too.  As always, have a happy day. ~ Mrs. Go to Girl

 

Do you get the winter blues?

I have to be honest, I didn’t really think seasonal depression was a real thing until I moved up North many years ago and found this to be a real harsh reality when it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am a true-blue, home-grown, Florida girl from the word go.  It is very possible that my first steps were on sand. (OK, that may be an exaggeration, but my close family and friends can attest that my happiest place is on the west coast of Florida on the cool soft sandy beaches and in the warm waters of the Gulf).  Moving on, back in 2004, I moved to New Jersey for a brief stent on a whim and I loved it for a while.  The changes of the season were new to me; the colors of the trees, being so close to NYC, all the great day trips.  It was a great place to be. And then it got cold!  I mean real cold!  The sky turned grey and the sun went into hiding for months!  The snow came and it didn’t go away.  I may sound like a crazy person, but I had no clue that snow fell on the ground and stayed there!  I truly thought that when snow melted, it really melted.  I didn’t know it turned to ice.  (Not a lesson they teach you in science classes in a Florida Elementary school by the way.)  For a girl who did not travel much in her younger years, I was in total shock.  All of my travels have ever been in the Caribbean.  (Did I mention I love the tropics?)

Anyway, I soon found myself very sad and moody for no reason.  I didn’t want to go exploring as I had in the fall.  I found myself not wanting to do any of the things I had an interest in typically, even at home.  This wasn’t like me at all.  What was happening?  My friend informed me of an affliction known as “Seasonal Depression”.  I thought this was crazy.  How can the weather affect your mood?  But yes, much like the changing of the tides, the cycle of the moon, the gloominess of the weather can as well.  So, my friends, if you are like me and you find yourself getting sad or even depressed during the winter months, take matters into your own hands.   You can be proactive and prevent the winter blues from happening to you.  Here are a few tips on how to maintain your mood level this winter season:

1.       Exercise – even if it is a little more than you are used to.  If you live in an area where it is super cold out, try an at home regiment.  It can be as little as fifteen minutes in the morning.  Something that gets your heartrate up and your blood flowing.  If you have the gumption to do it again in the afternoon or evening, even better.  Trying 30 second planks at your workplace is always a great option as well.  (Get your friends to join in and make a challenge out of it).

2.       Talk about it – If you live with family or friends, let them know that the winter weather makes you a bit blue and most likely they will be more than happy to help find ways to counteract the symptoms.  Let your doctor know as well if you feel it necessary.

3.       Stay connected – Do not isolate.  This is so easy to do during the winter months.  (Trust me, I can live inside my little internet box, but thanks to my husband, kids, and grandkids, they don’t let me).  Force yourself to get out by signing up for a new class, going to a workshop, or volunteering.

4.       Surround yourself with happy thoughts – This really works.  Literally surround yourself with visual reminders to be happy.  Post notes on your fridge, bathroom mirror, or front door that have happy quotes that make you smile.  Change the screen saver of your phone or computer to something that makes you smile.  Sign up for jokes or funny things on your social media feeds.  Laughter truly is the best medicine. 

5.       Create a great playlist – Start and end your day with uplifting music.  Music can change a mood so quickly.  If you find yourself feeling glum, tune into to some Disney theme songs (you know the words).  Turn on the latest pop songs and turn off the hard core stuff or even country.  And I have to say, I am guilty of this myself.

6.       Step into the light – Try a light box.  They say tanning beds are bad for you and I am not here to advocate for them, but this beach girl does get into the tanning bed now and then.  I crave the sun and I am not afraid to admit that I feel better after I’ve been in the sun or a tanning bed especially after a week of nothing but grey skies.  (I am not suggesting that you become a habitual tanner or that you should tan if you have sensitive skin. Please tan at your own risk.  I myself, am aware of the risks of tanning.)

7.       Avoid depressants – Drugs and alcohol are the obvious ones here.  If you are someone that is easily depressed or sensitive to the winter blues, than maybe lessen your alcohol intake during the winter months and substitute with a non-alcoholic beverage.

8.       Take a break – Change up your schedule every once in a while.  Schedule a day off for no reason and take a little vacation and treat yourself to some fun. 

I hope these suggestions help.  I am by no means a doctor and these suggestions have helped me.  I found them all by googling over the years.  I can tell you, it is a trial and error thing and when you find what works, stick with it.  You do not have to suffer through the winter months, you can enjoy them as you should all the seasons.  I left New Jersey immediately after that first winter and went back to Florida.  Having just moved a little further north again, and finding myself again in a cooler winter season, I am again having to try the above suggestions myself.  If you are like me, I wish you luck.  As always, have a happy day.

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