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I Guess That’s Why They Call it the (Winter) Blues…

Health & Wellness, Personal Growth

The holidays can be so stressful and hectic, and like it or not, we are typically surrounded by people.  Lots of people.  Family members, friends, colleagues at your office holiday party, crowds of people in the malls, restaurants, and traffic…the list goes on and on.

Then, poof! its over and everything is eerily quiet, or comparatively so.   

For many, this drop in activity and social interaction leaves a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. Couple that with single digit temperatures outside… and oh, those New Years Resolutions that you’ve already forgotten about, again…and. (deep sigh) yep,  the winter blues have crept right in.  

  
Regardless of why the first few weeks after the holidays can be emotionally overwhelming. 

My top 3 go-to’s when getting in a winter funk: Lights, Connection, Action!!

Let there be light! 

It’s common knowledge lack of sunlight during the winter months is connected to feeling down.   The scientific term is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and while some people suffer from it severely, almost everyone agrees the gloom of winter is a downer.    Dress warm and go outdoors if you’re able.   Being cold stinks, but as long as you’re warm, breathing the brisk air can be invigorating.  If you’re a dog owner like me, you know that getting them out sometimes is a pain, but everyone is much happier after.  Have an elderly neighbor with a dog?  Offer to help them.  They’ll appreciate it, and doing something for someone can really lift your spirits.  However, you choose to do it, don’t get too cooped up inside. 

Open your curtains and let the light shine in.    A lot of times, we close them because they do help insulate and keep the heat in.  I get it.  Keeping the heat in is good, but the flip side is that it blocks the light out.   Even if you only open them for an hour a day, let there be light!  You’ll feel better.  

 Feeling blue, try Gratitude for Happiness

It’s almost impossible to feel down when you have a real sense of gratitude.  Take a moment to think of anyone that did something extra special over the holidays and reach out to thank them.   You could call them, send them a card, or an email.  I discourage texting, but if that’s what feels right to you, then by all means, go for it.  Everyone loves to receive thanks and to get outside of yourself and to connect with another person with a grateful heart creates endorphins related to happiness (Psychology Today)

Make a plan

Just get going again.  Think of how focused you were during the holidays.  How ever you celebrate, making plans, meeting deadlines, reaching goals is a big part of the process, and chances are, you did all of that without even being aware of it.  Now is your opportunity to focus on something for yourself.  We all have something we’d like to accomplish and have procrastinated on (until after the holidays?)

Here are a few ideas.

Pick an area of your life you want to work on.   Are you happy with your career?  How’s your love life?   Still eating Christmas candy or just feeling the after-effects and ready to get back into healthy habits?   Thought about starting a business or writing a book or taking up a new hobby?  Pick one (or two), and write down your ultimate goal with it.  Even if it seems lofty now, as long as there is some reality to it, get it on paper.  Then break it down into chunks by what you need to accomplish in (for example) one year or six months. Then what do you need to get done each month to get to the end?  After that, break it into weekly goals to reach your monthly objective.  Lastly, what can you do TODAY to meet your weekly commitment?  

Don’t put massive stress or pressure on yourself.

That’s counterproductive.  The stress will create negative feelings that will ultimately be the demise of the plan. Even people who think they are motivated by pain or panic typically fizz out.  It just doesn’t work, or at least not for long.   If you find yourself feeling angst or stress, try setting SMART GOALS.   These  are smaller, more specific and managable goals allowing you to celebrate even your simplest victory.

Winter can feel like an ending while you’re waiting for the new beginnings that come with spring.  However, it doesn’t have to be.   There are only so many tomorrows, and letting nearly 90 of them pass you by does not serve your highest good.   You deserve so much more out of life.   Let yourself live it to the fullest.  

How to get unstuck and move forward

Personal Growth, Relationships & Family

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they feel overwhelmed, confused, depressed, in a funk, or just plain “stuck” – it happens to the best of us! It can be hard to get “unstuck” on our own, especially if it is our best thinking and acting that got us into a funk to begin with.

Why do we get stuck sometimes?

The reason we get stuck is because this is real life and not a fairytale where some conflict is overcome and everyone lives happily ever after. Real life doesn’t always go according to plan.   We can’t give people a copy of a script and expect them to follow their lines and act the way we want them to. No matter how hard we work, we don’t always have control over the outcomes.   At the end of the day, life is not always fair.

There are so many reasons we get stuck. Here are 6:

  • We simply cannot accept the outcomes of a situation and move on.
  • We believe we should be something or someone we are not.
  • We’ve compromised our values and settled for less.
  • We’re creatures of habit, we get into a comfort zone and are afraid or unwilling to step out of it.
  • We feel guilty or shameful about being stuck so we beat ourselves up.   Negativity only reinforces whatever is not working and keeps us stuck.
  • We repeat a pattern over and over again, thinking “this time” the results will be different, but they never are. In fact, many times they get worse.

Advice to help you get out of a rut today!

Regardless of why we are stuck, what matters most is “how does one get unstuck and move forward with their life?”   Deciding to take some action is the first step to getting out of a rut.

  • Let Go!: When we resist accepting things for what they are vs. what we want it to be, we suffer. It is healthy to experience our emotions, even sadness and disappointment, but getting trapped by them is destructive. Holding on to anger, grief, or guilt is living in the past and robs us of the ability to experience joy in the now. Acceptance is often the key to peacefulness.
  • Think small: Looking at the whole situation can be really overwhelming and cause analysis paralysis (overthinking something so much you cannot make a move).   Even the smallest step moving in the right direction will get you closer to your goal than waiting for the perfect execution. Start with small manageable changes and they will gradually become bigger, more impactful ones.
  • Get an attitude adjustment: Instead of looking at situations as problems, think of them as challenges and make solving them a game.   No matter how bad things seem, there is always something worse and much to be grateful for; instead of feeling like you have to do something, tell yourself you get to and see how much better it feels. This works for everything.   Try and focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong; this will give you an energy boost to move forward.
  • Don’t go it alone:   Chances are your best thinking is in part why you are in a funk.   No shame or judgement; we all do the best we can with what we have to work with.   The problem is, we all have “blind spots” too and having a support system that is both objective and honest will shed a new perspective on things in the most helpful way.
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and act: Insanity is often defined as “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result”. If you want a different result, do something different! Sometimes just doing something is different.   Don’t worry if it’s not your ultimate best plan, as long as it is in line with your final goal. Even the best ideas and plans mean nothing if not followed up with action.

Remember, you are not alone! We all get stuck from time to time. The longer we stay stuck the harder it may seem to breakthrough. However, the change you wish for is possible as long as you are willing to make it happen.

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Get “unstuck” with Association and Disassociation

Health & Wellness, Life Coach Library

Written by Wendy Cope, Personal-Growth & Recovery Coach, www.healthytothecore.net

Have you ever noticed when a friend comes to you for advice about a situation it is so easy to offer great ideas and solutions to them, yet, when confronted with our own it is much harder to see clearly and come up with practical answers? The reason is we are generally observers for our friends and when we observe, we can think more rationally. We are disassociated with our friends’ challenges. In our own situations we often become our situations. We feel everything, and we get stuck. We are associated with our own dilemmas.

Disassociation:

When we disassociate with something, we are more detached. We have the ability to observe. It’s like watching ourselves on t.v. or from afar. We only see and hear what is going on. We experience feelings about the situation, but not like the characters we are observing who are feeling the powerful sensations.

Be mindful that disassociation has nothing to do with the mental health diagnosis of “dissociative disorder”. Dissociative disorder is characterized by:

* The splitting off from consciousness, as in amnesia or mental blocking.

* Not remembering or connecting to a feeling as a coping or defense mechanism.

Disassociation in this article means to observe a situation to gain a different perspective and decrease the intensity of negative feelings associated with it, both mentally and physically.

Association:

Association is when we relive an experience. We are in it and see everything around us from that perspective. We feel the feelings in what seems like real time. We have other sensory experiences. What we see, hear, smell, even taste, as if it were happening right now. Association is when we are being the active participant.

Try it….

Think of a time you were very happy, like a graduation. What pictures do you see? Are you watching yourself walking across the stage to get your diploma or are you walking across the stage to get it? Whichever one you answered, try to see it from the alternative perspective. Which one feels more intense? Is it happier? Does it feel different physically? Which feeling would you rather have? If you are like most people, association feels much happier. It is usually more sensory, and physically triggers endorphins that add to the emotional experience.

Now think of something that was disappointing, maybe not getting a job you really wanted. What picture do you see now? Are you watching yourself open the mail and reading some type of notice or are you standing there with the reject notice in front of you? Whichever you answered, try it from the other perspective. Which seems less intense? Is there a difference in how you experience it physically? If you are like most people, disassociation takes the sting out of rejection and makes it easier to look at it logically.

When is it best to be Associated or Disassociated?

Unfortunately, research has found that many people disassociate with happy memories and associate with unpleasant ones. That is backwards!!! When we are thinking of something pleasant, we will view it more positively when we are associated in it. It will create positive thoughts which will make us feel happier. When we feel happier, we physically become healthier. Our heart beat settles and our blood pressure calms. If we take a moment to slow down and experience other sensations, (sounds, smells, sights…) it will enhance the feeling even deeper. This can be a powerful tool when trying to get motivated.

Dissociating from unpleasant memories or experiences decreases the emotional pain, depression, and anxiety that often accompany them. When we become an observer (vs. participant) we can see things from an objective viewpoint, and release emotion attached to an event. In my experience, this release has a positive impact both emotionally and physically as well. I have combined this with other techniques to decrease the intensity such as “dimming the lights” and “lowering the volume” (heck, hit the mute button) and “making the screen smaller and fade out”. These tools are powerful because they decrease or eliminate the sensory connections, which is what the unconscious is more likely to hold on to.

It’s never wise to get stuck in one mode or the other. Pain is not comfortable, but it can be part of an important learning and growth experience. When person gets stuck in disassociated mode, they analyze everything rationally but will not experience a range of emotion and are not better off. They should learn how to associate into their feelings, at least some of the time. When someone is so associated with their pain, they relive it over and over, even if unconsciously, and it becomes problematic. It can increase anxiety, depression, and lead to self-destructive behaviors. They would then benefit from learning how to disassociate from painful experiences.

Brown, S.. Psychology Today. Retrieved fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pathological-relationships/201211/dissociation-isnt-life-skill

Hall, L. M. . NLP Mentor. Retrieved from https://nlp-mentor.com/association-dissociation/

Author unknown, World Trans. Retrieved fromhttp://www.worldtrans.org/TP/TP1/TP1-119.HTML

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