5 Ways to Help You Ride Out the Early Winter Blues – Even if They Threaten to Overwhelm You

This week I was SO crabby with the man in my life. For no real reason. I picked fights and nudged and nagged. It wasn’t pretty. And, when asked why, I couldn’t answer. Why was I crabby?

And then I realized. The temperatures dropped significantly this week. And I was depressed. Seasonally depressed.

“Oh man.” I thought. “Here we go again.”

Luckily, I have a bag of tricks that I turn to when I get depressed. They work almost every time.

Here is my latest: 5 Ways to Help You Ride Out the Early Winter Blues – Even if They Threaten to Overwhelm You.

#1 – Take a good hard look at how you are feeling.

This is very important. Be aware of why you are feeling the way you are feeling.

For me, this week I seemed mad at my guy. But really I wasn’t. I was sad because the weather had turned cold. It happens to me every year.

Pay attention to your blues. Are they the result of something that happened? A conversation or an event that went wrong? Or did they just appear overnight? And how long have they lasted? A day? A week? A month?

If your sadness is not the result of something specific and has lasted for more than a few days it might be time to see your doctor. Depression can be a serious disease and catching it early is the best way to deal with it.

#2 – Talk back to that brain of yours.

I have said this before and I will say it again. When your brain starts telling you things that don’t make you feel good SHUT IT DOWN.

Our brains are hardwired to be our worst enemies. When you start feeling sad your brain goes into overdrive to sustain that sadness. It tells you that you are fat and you believe it. It tells you that you are worthless and you believe it. And when you are sad your brain will only tell you things that will make you sadder.

That’s how it works – UNLESS you tell your brain to back off.

When you hear your brain telling you that you will never amount to anything recognize that your brain is telling you this from a place of sadness. If you were in a better place, a place of happiness, your brain would not be saying this to you. It would be telling you that the sky is the limit.

So, when you are sad, question every negative thought that comes into your brain. And then talk back to it very firmly. Say to it “Of course I am going to be something…look at how far I have already come.”

#3 – Get enough Vitamin D and sunshine.

The human body gets Vitamin D from sunshine. Yes, it is also in fortified milk and a few other foods but really the main source for us is sunshine. And with insufficient Vitamin D we get depressed.

Almost every person living in the Northeast suffers from Vitamin D deficiency. And much of America does now too because of the widespread use of sunscreen.

Try to get outside and get some sunshine every day. On your hands and your face are most important, I have been told. There are also light machines that mimic sunlight which you can use inside but getting outside, where the air is fresh and the sun is shining, is best.

Also, taking a vitamin D3 supplement has worked for me in the past. 5000 IUs is the dosage my doctor recommended for me. I take one every morning from October – April and it very much helps.

#4 – Eat foods that make you feel good.

I don’t know about you but when I get depressed I LOVE to eat. Pad Thai and peanut butter with chocolate chips by the spoonful are my favorites.

While these foods aren’t bad for me there are actually foods that have been shown to be mood enhancing. And some of them are really yummy!

Top on the list of mood enhancing foods are: almonds, guacamole, chocolate, coffee, watermelon and fava beans

That last one isn’t a perennial favorite but I threw it in there anyway.

Also good for you are bananas, apples, green leafy vegetables, oatmeal and pumpkin seeds.

So when you are feeling the blues make yourself a banana and almond milk smoothie, grab a handful of chocolate chips and go sit on the front stoop in the sun for a bit.

Try it now….at the very least the chocolate chip part.

#5 – Change your chemistry.

Okay, here is the best one. Doing things that make you feel good.

The body produces a chemical known as dopamine. When dopamine levels are low in the body depression can be the result.

Fortunately, there are ways to bump up dopamine levels in the body. And, really, not one of them is a chore.

Top on the list of things that produce dopamine:

  • Listening to music
  • Having sex
  • Setting a goal and meeting it
  • Knowing one answer on a crossword puzzle
  • Doing something creative
  • Trying something new

Do you think you can find one thing on that list that might appeal? Do it after your banana and almond milk smoothie and life will be good.

So there you go, my 5 Ways to Help Your Ride Out the Early Winter Blues.

Depression can be very serious and I don’t want to downplay that here. If you have been feeling not yourself for any period of time check with your doctor.

The things that I have listed here are things that I have used for years to get me through the blues. They really work. As soon as I feel the depression settling in I put these things into action.

Just ask my man. Not only am I no longer being crabby but he gets to help me raise my dopamine levels. Now everyone is happy.

Looking for more ways to beat those winter blues? Contact me and I can help!

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Ways to Approach a Difficult Conversation – Even if You Think That it Might End Disastrously

Tonight I have to have a very difficult conversation with my son. I am dreading it. I am sitting here thinking about what to say and what he is going to say and how he could hate me by the end of it.

The life coach in me knows that while my concerns are real there are many approaches that I can take that will allow us to have a successful conversation, one we will both walk away from in the best way possible.

Here is my latest…5 Ways to Approach a Difficult Conversation – Even if You Think That it Might End Disastrously.

#1 – Let go of assumptions.

As I sit here thinking about what tonight is going to look like I am visualizing all sorts of reactions from my son around what I am going to say. Some are calm, some are angry, some involve tears.

And they are all that I can think about. More even than the content of the talk. I just don’t know what will happen and it worries me.

But I have to let go of those projected outcomes. I have NO IDEA how he is going to react and to spend even one minute perseverating about what they might be is a complete waste of time.

So I let them go and focus on the other approaches instead.

#2 – Choose a good time and place.

When my kids were little and I had to discuss something difficult with them I always chose to do it in one of two places: in the car or on a walk.

I have found it very effective to have conversations with someone when side by side instead of face to face. I think that perhaps it makes each participant a little less vulnerable and gives them a moment more to react to a statement. The eyes can say so much, sometimes quickly, which can cause the conversation to devolve in some way.

I also always chose a time that was not stressful. Tonight my son is coming over for dog therapy, pizza, TV and trying on some new clothes. His top 4 things in this world. He will be happy and then we will begin. Softly.

#3 – Don’t attack.

Your goal in this situation is to have an effective, difficult conversation. One that lands on its mark and has a satisfactory end result. To do this it’s important not to attack.

My son is struggling with a few issues in his life. I will ask him if he is happy. One a scale of 1-10, perhaps. Doing so will (gradually) get him to open up to me about his life. From there I can ask him probing questions that will lead to us being able to discuss how to get him through those issues.

I will not say “Why are you doing these stupid things over and over?” I can guarantee that the only thing that will do is shut him down. And make him leave.

Not the end goal.

#4 – Be sure to listen.

This is so important. You need to be very careful to listen to what you are hearing back from the person with whom you are talking. Not only could you get some valuable information but, by letting them know that you are paying attention, you will be more likely to get the outcome that you seek.

Try reflective listening. Many people find it difficult but it really works. After they speak say “I hear you saying that….and I get it.”  Words that will allow them to feel heard, validated and empathized with. Often, all people want to be is heard and not feeling so makes them angry and makes them shut down or storm off.

Not the end goal.

#5 – Know that everything is going to be all right.

I know this conversation tonight with my son seems like it might be the end of the world but really, no matter what, it’s all going to be okay.

I always tell my clients to consider “what is the worst that can happen?”

For me I know that the worse that could happen would be the death of my child. That I don’t think I could survive. But you know what, I probably could. Regardless, that won’t happen tonight, because of this conversation.

So, yes, a conversation might bring about pain and discomfort and maybe even produce some short, or long, term effects but really, everyone is going to be okay.

As I have mentioned before, pain is a part of the growing process. This conversation will be part of the growing process.

And growing is the end goal.

So there you go. My 5 Ways to Approach a Difficult Conversation.

I am definitely nervous about tonight’s conversation. The topic is a difficult one but the conversation is necessary. Now that I am done worrying about possible outcomes I have my list of things I want to address and am going to do so carefully and with love.

And while there might be some tears and discomfort, I know that, really, everything is going to be okay. We will still love each other and that life will go on.

Looking for more tips about difficult conversations? Contact me and let me help!

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me on My Wedding Day – Even If I Might Not Have Wanted to Hear Them

Marriage doesn’t come with a manual. I wish it did. Because after the vows have been said, the doves have been released and the dress has been put in dry storage, comes marriage.

And as much as we would like to believe it’s all happily ever after, it often isn’t.

But it CAN be. All you need is some awareness and a willingness to act.

Here is my latest – 5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me on My Wedding Day – Even If I Might Not Have Wanted to Hear Them.

#1 – Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

One of the most disturbing aspects about many marriages is that after a while communication just stops.

Sure, there is lots of logistical stuff to discuss – when we are coming home for dinner, where the kids’ soccer games are, what time we are meeting the in-laws on Sunday.

But real communication, expressing of feelings, frustrations, hopes, dreams and longings, ceases.

Marriage is a 24/7 commitment. During those days, and years, lots of issues can arise, issues that can be hurtful and cause resentment. Instead of being addressed immediately, feelings are often left unsaid.  It can just seem too scary to go there, to share how we feel and not know what the response will be. So we don’t.

And then, before we know it, it’s easier to just not say anything, to do the dishes or spend longer at the office, doing anything to avoid difficult conversations. We do this assuming that the issues will be dealt with eventually. Like after Christmas, after Memorial Day or when the kids go off to college.

If you only take one thing away from this article it’s this: keep communicating. Your marriage, and your life, will be better if you do.

#2 – Have lots of sex.

I know newlyweds will laugh now at the prospect of no longer having sex with their partner. “That won’t be us,” they say.

But it very well could be.

We know that anger and resentment can build in a marriage because of unexpressed feelings. For a woman, there is no better libido killer than anger and resentment. And there is no better way to create anger and resentment in a man than the absence of sex.

Intimacy is key to maintaining closeness in a marriage. Touching, kissing, feeling loved and having orgasms are all a big part of this. Marriage without sex is simply a business arrangement.

So push past the anger and resentment and make love with your partner. Or, better yet, kill the anger and resentment with communication and happily make love every night.

You will be happy you did, both in the moment and long term.

#3 – Remember to respect each other.

There is a concept called the “contempt of the familiar.” This concept occurs when people get to know each other very well. Too well perhaps. We know how the other person looks when flossing their teeth, how they leave their pants hanging on the door, how they slurp their coffee or that they fart in bed.

Perhaps at one time you thought these things cute but now, as time has gone by, they drive you nuts. They might even repel you.

Mutual respect is a key to any successful marriage.  Your partner’s mannerisms or ways of doing things might not jibe with your own and this can lead to developing a dislike of who they are. And if you don’t like someone it’s hard to respect them.

Have I mentioned yet the importance of communication?

Tell your partner that something they are doing is making it difficult for you to be with them. Don’t just write them off as a lost cause, thinking “if they loved me they would do this differently.” We are all human beings trying to do the best that we can and if you are honest with yourself you know that they aren’t doing any of those things to spite you. They just do them. And can change if asked. Nicely.

Give your partner a chance to keep your respect and allow them to keep respecting you in return.

And sex is way better when you respect your partner. In case you didn’t know.

#4 – Don’t let your extended family get in the way of your new one.

No matter how old we are when we get married, we have many years of experience and tradition with our extended families. Holidays spent just so, toilet paper rolls that roll out on top instead of under, sarcasm that is part of every family get together.

The extended family is wonderful and part of who we are but the priority now is the new family. The one we are creating with our partner.

Of course it’s important to respect our family traditions but if doing so is at the expense of the new relationship it needs to be addressed. If the birthday tradition on one side is the whole family gathered and lots of gifts exchanged and the birthday tradition on the other side involves quietly celebrating with friends then a conversation needs to be had.

Have I mentioned yet the importance of communication?

Both sides of the family need to be told, respectfully, that while all family traditions are important what is important now is how the new family wants to make their own traditions. Compromises might need to be made but it is important that both partners feel like their new life as a couple is their own.

#5 – Know that a baby is going to change everything.

I know! Having a baby is so exciting. From “starting to try,” to nine months of watching it grow, to baby showers and then childbirth (!!) it’s all so wonderful and new and partners are bound closer than ever.

And then the baby is born and all bets are off.

Like when we get married, no one hands us a manual when we become parents. This means that from day one we are flying by the seat of our pants. Women most often immediately change their focus from their husband to their child. Men are left wondering what happened to their life. Yes, the child is delightful, but dinners together, time with friends, free time for athletics, are all suddenly gone. Not to mention the sex.

It’s important to be aware that the baby is going to change everything and prepare and allow for it. Know that everyone is going to be exhausted, that things are going to be messy, that the next 18 years are going to be an evolution, and a revolution, like you have never been through before.

Commit to making it through those years together. Communicate like you did when you were first married, perhaps even more so, have as much sex as you can squeeze into your week and continue to love and respect each other even as life gets challenging.

It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

So there you go. My 5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me on My Wedding Day.

I was married for 20 years and have been divorced for 5. I have spent a lot of time reflecting about what went wrong in my marriage. What I do know is that we, as a couple, got lost in our family. We gave up who WE were to please everyone else: our kids, our in-laws, our friends. We stopped looking at each other with love, talking about our feelings, hugging each other, respecting each other.

We were business partners. Our family was a successful business but our marriage fell apart.

I am madly in love with a new man now, one I very much hope to marry. And believe me, I won’t make the same mistakes twice.

Marriage is truly a wondrous thing and can be a big part of living the life of your dreams.

So do what I suggest. And don’t ever stop.

Looking for more ideas about how to keep your marriage strong? Contact me and I can help.

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!

5 Reasons Telling the Truth Will Set You Free – Even if it Feels Like Doing So Will Make the World Come Crashing Down Around You

Remember back in high school when you and your best friend both liked the same guy and then the guy started liking you back and you didn’t know what to do about your friend so you didn’t tell her? How did that work out?

We all have secrets. Secrets that may or may not affect the lives of other people. And we may or may not choose to share those secrets because we just don’t know if doing so is the right thing. For everyone.

I am here to tell you that holding on to secrets is not a good thing. For anyone.

Here is my latest…5 Reasons Telling the Truth Will Set You Free – Even if it Feels Like Doing So Will Make the World Come Crashing Down Around You.

#1 – You are not protecting your loved one, even if you think you are.

This is the reason that most people hold onto a secret. They believe that not telling someone the truth will somehow help them. And this does seems logical because you trying to take care of someone who is important to you and sharing the secret might cause them pain.

But why do you think that you know what is best for someone? Yes, you think you really know that person, and you probably do, but by not giving them information that could possibly change their life you are doing them a disservice.

Everyone deserves the right to be in charge of his or her own destiny. You not telling them the truth takes away their power.

#2 – Telling the truth will allow the healing process to begin.

Think about when someone told you something that caused you some hurt. Yes, in the moment, and for many moments afterwards, life was a very difficult place. Perhaps even unbearable.

But it’s the natural process that the body pushes through trauma, big or small, and starts healing. This is how we survive as a species. And we can only start healing when we know what we are dealing with.

Awareness is key.

#3 – Telling the truth will keep your head from exploding.

Holding onto a secret is terribly hard on one’s psyche. Your brain and your heart are in constant conflict, one arguing for revealing the truth, one pushing against it. And the result? Your stomach hurts all the time. And your head threatens to explode.

When your body is telling you that what you are doing is not good it is important that you listen to it. Holding on to a secret can have long-term effects both on the body and the brain.

Imagine what it would feel like to not have this secret in your body. Pretty amazing, right?

#4 – Telling the truth will keep your loved one’s head from exploding.

People always know when you are hiding something, especially people who are close to you. We think we are so good at hiding things but those who know us know our tells. They know when we are stressed, or preoccupied, or being distant.

If they see these behaviors then your loved one might start to question themselves. Have they done something that has caused you to behave this way? Have they hurt you in some way? They might even ask you about it and when you aren’t honest in return they are left hurt and wondering still.

Their brain and their heart will start arguing and their stomach will start to hurt and their head will threaten to explode. How is hiding this secret protecting them? How is not telling them the truth allowing them to start to heal?

It’s just not.

#5 – You will help change the world.

Secrets are insidious. They can cause damage that seems in the moment and personal but which can be far reaching.

My mother had an affair with a married man for 10 years. He would call and mom would tell me that it was her lawyer (which he was, in fact, a lawyer, but not hers). Soon enough I realized what was going on and also knew that he wasn’t leaving his wife and that my mom was miserable. I suffered from massive guilt that she was home alone and I would come home from college on weekends just to be with her. I was distracted from my life worrying about her. I started drinking and not doing well in school.

Repercussions carried forward into my adult life. I didn’t believe that I should be cared for and therefore cared for everyone else at the expense of myself. My mother ultimately married her man and how I resented him for the years that he left my mother so unhappy. I didn’t trust men and this will forever affect my relationship with them.

And then, at my mother’s funeral, her friends told me stories about my mom and her husband that blew my mind. While he hadn’t left his wife, my mom and her lover were together more often than not. They traveled together extensively, trips I never knew about. They had weekend parties at our house where her husband and his friends would travel from Virginia. They even got married without including us.

All the guilt that I suffered was for naught. My mother was doing just fine. Not perfect, I know, but not as bad as she led me to believe by not telling me the truth.

How different might my life had been, and as a result, perhaps, the life of my ex-husband, my children and their children, if I had known the truth?

So there you go…5 Reasons Telling the Truth Will Set You Free.

Many of us are scared of telling the truth, of the ramifications of our words and our fear that we will be blamed for anything that happens because of our actions.

But really, the best thing, for everyone, is to release those secrets out into the world, let happen what is going to happen, and then let the healing process begin.

So just do it. Stop keeping those secrets bottled up inside. You, and your loved ones, will be better for it.

Looking for help finding ways to let go of secrets? Contact me and I can help.

Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. Her writing has been published in The Huffington PostPrevention MagazineThe Good Man Projectamong others. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live.

Looking for more ways to finding happiness? Contact me NOW and I can help!