Sanctuary Counseling, LLC.
Douglassville: 610.385.3155 Audubon: 610.850.8009

How to Battle Your Winter Blues

You know those people who hate hot weather, love wearing ten layers under their super heavy winter coats, and obsess over freshly fallen snow? Gosh, those people have it easy in winter. That’s not everyone. Winter can be a depressing time for many. It’s dark in the winter. It’s cold frigid in the winter. Your mood can change in the winter. It might not be easy to feel happy, healthy, and vibrant in the winter. That’s why self-care is really important for you if you don’t fare well in the cold weather months.

To help you tackle your winter weather blues, I’ve come up with a few ideas that can help you take advantage of wintery things. Because when life hands you raw eggs, make eggnog.

  1. Warm up. Winter can be really cold, and if you hate cold weather that can be a real downer. But it offers something unique that summer doesn’t – the relief and relaxation that can come from warming up. Winter is the perfect time to relax in a hot bath before bed. Find a cinnamon spice bath bomb to enhance the experience. Or you could put on sweats, bury deep into a big blanket, and pick up that book you’ve been too busy to touch.
  2. Taste the winter tastes. Just like watermelon Italian ice to cool you off on a hot summer day, there are goodies that are unique to the chillier times. Take advantage of these seasonal treats by using mindfulness to enjoy them. Take your time to slowly sip and enjoy your hot cocoa while watching the tiny marshmallows melt on top. Carefully and thoughtfully prepare a hearty stew that you can sit down to eat while fully enjoying and appreciating the flavors you taste and the love you put into creating it. Judiciously choose the best looking candy cane from the tree and take your time to enjoy the minty sweetness.
  3. Take advantage of snow days. Snow days are winter perks! They are days you are supposed to be at work, and then poof! You’re stuck the house – like actually not supposed to leave. That only happens in winter. Spend some time now thinking about how you can incorporate some self-care into your bonus days off. This is your chance to binge watch that Netflix show you can’t seem to make time for. Or maybe to finish that scrapbook you started four years ago. Snow days are good for staying in the same outfit all day – your pajamas. You have time to make waffles for breakfast, and then maybe again for dinner. Do whatever it is you want to do to give yourself a break and to care for the parts of you that get neglected in the busyness of life.

These are just a few things you can do to battle winter blues. What are some ideas that YOU have? What would you add to the list?! I’d love to hear them!

Change is Coming: How to Cope with the New

“Change is good”
“Change is inevitable”
“Change is necessary”
“Change of heart” “Change of pace” “Change of scene”
“The more things change, the more they stay the same”

I could list dozens of idioms in our lexicon that tell us how important change is. “We should expect it, we should like it, and we should roll with it,” is what they seem to boil down to.
As someone who loves a schedule, a list, and some structure, change is something that gets a side-eye from me. Nine times out of ten, the changes that pass through my life end up working out for the better, I just haven’t been able to get through my head that I don’t have to panic every time it comes. (I love the comfort that comes with knowing what is down the road and what to expect).

However, change doesn’t always need to be tied to panic and discomfort; change can sometimes bring unexpected happiness. It might be just what we’re needing without even knowing it.

The transition from grade school to high school; the transition from high school to college; the transition from college to “real life,” starting a new job. These changes are inevitable and necessary. And I survived them all. Who knew? I certainly didn’t at the time.
I was nervous each time I had to adapt, adjust, and grow comfortable with my new reality. Often when something new and different came along, I would brace myself for disaster (because I am wired that way!). Sometimes I would go in with low expectations so that I wouldn’t be disappointed or overwhelmed. And that is not great either.

The thing is, it didn’t matter whether I was prepared or disappointed, excited or scared.
Change was a’comin anyway.
What mattered was how I responded and reacted to these changes.

If I was nervous or scared, did I react as the situation deserved, or did I panic and shut down? If I was excited or prepared, did I get my hopes up too high? There is a balance to be found in all of this, and it seems that it’s something that will always be in flux.
Some helpful ways to cope with change are to engage in some mindfulness practices.
One specific tool is to utilize a deep breathing exercise when we find the panic and anxiety too much to manage. Simply find a comfortable space, take a few deep breaths, and follow a simple breathing pattern focused around breathing for 4 second intervals. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, and hold the breath for 4 seconds. Repeat these four times through, and your brain and body will thank you!
Another helpful tool is to engage in some imagery, picturing what things in your life will remain constant. When change is on the horizon, it can be easy to get caught up in all the things that will be new and different, but many cornerstones and important aspects of life remain the same. Feeling grounded in what is and will continue to be can help us feel that the changes are less overwhelming.
So, don’t fear change; try to prepare for it.
Do what you can to be ready, and let life happen as it must.

Change is making its way to Sanctuary. We are constantly growing, and with that must come change. Sanctuary went from a small office in Douglassville to the house we are in now, many years ago. Then we added a second site in Collegeville. Our Collegeville location will soon make that same transition from a small office to a new house in Audubon.
And while this is a big change, it is one we are so ready for. We are expanding our hours as well as our space. We are taking on new clients and clinicians. We must rise to the challenge and face these changes with open arms, because they are necessary, and they are good. Good for us and good for you, as we welcome a new chapter in the Sanctuary story.

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