Cold Weather Blues

You’ve heard about SAD, right? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) People who have it usually experience feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, and depression starting in the fall and it lasts through the winter months until spring comes along. The further north you live from the equator, the higher your chances are of having SAD. Up here in Canada, it’s estimated that about 15% of us suffer from it.

There’s a couple of theories as to why people develop this disorder, but it all boils down to one thing: the lack of light. It’s been said to throw off our natural circadian rhythms and affect the way our brain produces chemicals. Personally, I think if this is true then we should all suffer to some extent during the winter months– not necessarily because of a disorder, but from something that I like to call the “cold weather blues”. You don’t want to go outside. You don’t want to see friends. You feel more tired than usual. (I get it; me too.)

Fighting drowsiness is the first way to beat it- make sure you still try to get up every morning at the same time and leave the bedroom to avoid the temptation to go back to bed. (Sometimes a change in bedtime is necessary, too!)

Another way to beat it is to inject some fun into your social life. When the weather gets cold we all have to fight the inclination to stay inside– it’s isolating, and you run the risk of becoming even moodier and depressed. Make a pact with your friends (and yourself!) to plan something fun every week. Mark it on your calendar so it gives you something to look forward to. My friends and I like to make dinner for each other and we take turns hosting so there’s less pressure all around. If you’re not an outdoorsy person, make a point of finding fun indoor activities to do around your city– museums, art galleries, rock climbing, laser tag, rollerskating- or hey, why not try watching a movie in a theatre instead of the usual Netflix and chill?

Last (but not least), please give journaling a try. It may feel silly or unnatural at first, but sometimes getting your thoughts out of your head and down on a piece of paper is all that you need to lift yourself out of your temporary funk. On particularly bad days I try to practice my own form of gratitude in my journal: I try to write down all of the good things that happened during my day, no matter how small they were. Remembering all of those things gives me hope that good things happen every day, even if we have to remind ourselves of it once in a while.

If all else fails remind yourself that winter, just like everything, is only temporary. It may seem far off but come springtime you’ll feel the sunshine on your face, and you’ll try to remember what winter felt like, and you’ll laugh because by then it will have become a distant memory.

In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

At least, for some people it is. (Remember those commercials?) Back-to-school season is a mixed bag of emotions- for students, parents and teachers alike. It also doesn’t help that coincides with the arrival of fall, which officially marks the end of summer fun.

I used to love back-to-school time, not only because I was a stationery nerd, but it always somehow felt like a fresh start. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in school now but the feeling has never really left me, this idea that fall can also be a season of change and opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m already starting to dread the end of summer (and I don’t even go to school, man). But let’s take this time to look at the positive side of going back-to-school and use it as a tool to meet your goals, break bad habits, or even boost yourself self-esteem. Maybe you just want to learn how to survive school. Here are some of the ways I think I can help:

Get Organized:

Pick the perfect planner to manage your tasks.

Use this if you want to manage your whole life.

Work Smarter:

3 rules for a successful study routine.

Never hand in late assignments again.

Take control of your lists.

Manage overwhelming tasks.

Quick and dirty tips to help your productivity all around.

Improve Your Time Management:

Stop being late to class. But if you are running late, read this.

How to play catch up.

When you’re definitely not a morning person.

Squeeze more reading into your routine.

Understand and Conquer Procrastination:

Ways to make procrastination work for you.

The whys behind your procrastination habit.

The procrastination solution (or at least, some of them).

Take Care of Yourself:

We know you’re busy, but you gotta make your health a priority.

Ways to take care of your brain.

Reasons why you need to sleep (as if you needed them, right?)

Burnout is real. Don’t let it happen to you.

Find your motivation to get your groove back.

Get Through Your Day:

For when you’re having a breakdown.

For when you’re barely functional.

For when you’re struggling with your mental health.

We all have blips. Me too. We’ll get through it together.

Do you have any solutions or advice for students going back to school? Maybe you can offer the perspective of a parent or a teacher. Leave a comment below and share with the class, or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. I may include your tips in a future post!

 

 

 

Good Health for Busy People

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There’s this belief based on an old saying that if you want a task to be done, just give it to a busy person. I find this to be true. People who like to keep busy (and are good at keeping busy) tend to be pretty capable at managing all aspects of their lives and adapt quickly to accommodate change. It’s a wonder that with so much on their plates that busy people never seem to get overwhelmed, make mistakes, or even get sick. (Ok, maybe they do once in awhile.)

Years of careful observation on my part has lead me to believe that the busiest, most productive people I have met are the ones that take the best care of themselves. Here’s a few of the secrets I’ve gleaned:

Healthy, busy people make time for physical activity. Ideally, you should be getting 30-60 minutes daily. It sounds like a lot but that doesn’t mean you have to go running out to the gym tomorrow. Even incorporating small changes into your routine can make a big difference, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, getting off the bus a couple of stops early, or doing an extra lap around the park with your dog.

Healthy, busy people make sleep a priority. Even Ariana Huffington does it. For more reasons to snooze (as if you need any) click here.

Healthy, busy people maintain a balanced diet. I’m talking regular meals made with real food. I don’t think it matters whether you’re gluten-intolerant or vegetable intolerant or whatever- putting good food in your body is going to make you feel stronger, more energized and more capable of dealing with whatever the world throws at you. Bingeing, abstaining or trying to stick an unforgiving menu will not only make you unhappy, but it can mess with your health. (If this strikes a chord with you, please check out this post.)

Healthy, busy people collaborate with their healthcare professionals. I’ve seen (and experienced first-hand) the benefits of asking questions, doing your own research and being honest with your healthcare provider about your specific needs. It’s your body so you’re in charge of the decisions; they’ve got the education and the resources to help keep you informed. (Working at clinic has given me lots of experience working with doctors and patients. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on how to manage your health care.)

Healthy, busy people leave their work at the office. Just because technology makes it easy for us to stay connected all the time doesn’t mean we should. Sometimes logging some extra time working on a project at home is unavoidable, but trading in your personal time for more professional time can be bad for your relationships, bad for your physical and mental health and can actually have the opposite effect on your job.

Healthy, busy people know when to take advantage of downtime. By the way, your life isn’t separated into work and downtime- that means downtime includes even mundane tasks such as sleeping, chores, and bathing. Sorry folks, those things don’t count. Relaxing with family and friends, engaging in hobbies or simply just daydreaming are all things that do. It’s important to make the time to do the things you want to do so that when it is time to focus, you feel refreshed, confident and alert.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we’re connected all the time. We’re trained to work ourselves to the bone. We’re raised not to question the status quo, and we’re made to feel guilty or selfish for saying no, or for taking time to ourselves.

The key is that busy people are already aware of this, and they’ve taken measures to set boundaries, accommodate others, and anticipate their own needs so that they don’t get overwhelmed. Getting things done still requires a certain amount of discipline and prioritization- busy people just make sure that self-care is included on that list of priorities.

And if it isn’t on your list, get on it already! I guarantee it’s the first step to becoming a happier, healthier, more productive you.

KBwB-BFlower-50Have you incorporated any of these practices in your life? How has making these changes made a difference? Share your tips with us by commenting below or emailing me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and I’ll try to include them in an upcoming post.

I’m always looking for more ways to be productive and organized, but I find the key is try to and keep things in perspective and balanced. I’ve collected more thoughts on how to achieve this here.