Battling the Winter Blues

Part of me thinks I’m lucky to live somewhere that has four distinct seasons. As much as I think I would adore living where it’s warm all the time, in reality, I’d probably miss the period of change in each season. I quite like the first few weeks of cooler weather. I come home to a cosy house and put my Ugg boots on, and it’s all a bit of a novelty.

You might find this image comforting, but all I see is COLD ANKLES! Get this person some ugg boots!

…And then the novelty wears off and I begin to resent having to leave the house. I just want to stay curled up under my doona. As winter wears on, the blues really start to sink in, and it used to become a pretty serious depression for me. But now I am aware of it and I take conscious steps to battle it before I sink too low.

Often in winter we tend to gravitate toward whatever brings us comfort. That’s usually comfort food, and warm cosy blankets. Curling up on the couch with my doona, a bowl of nachos and a glass of red wine? Sign me up! But as comforting as that is, it’s hardly energising. We end up feeling fat and lazy and tired. Our homes might get a bit neglected, those projects remain undone, and we start to hate on ourselves for not achieving anything. And because we feel a bit down about it all, we seek comfort in another bowl of crap food and another episode on Netflix… and so the cycle continues.

You’ve probably heard of a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s a genuine clinical condition which is basically winter-induced depression. It’s thought to be caused by decreased light exposure. SAD is often characterised by increased appetite, weight gain, and increased sleep. Now there’s two different levels I’m talking about here: there’s the winter blues where we feel a little glum and uninspired, and there’s full-blown depression. If you think you’ve gone beyond the blues and you have depression, please speak with your GP or a counsellor.

Don’t be a winter glum bum!

The first winter that I actually enjoyed was a few years ago. I was really dreading it and already sinking into the blues before it even properly started. But I was working on a lot of self-development and identified that this was a challenge I needed to face head-on. I decided to set some winter goals, with the mantra: “Laugh in the Face of Winter”. Writing it out like that, I realise that maybe it’s a bit weird. But it got me through winter without a hint of depression. And the following winter I didn’t have the same feeling of dread. Here are some of the steps I took that year to make it more bearable:


You knew that was going to be in the list, didn’t you? If the thought of going to a gym or going out in the cold just has you disregarding the idea of exercise altogether, I get it. I was the same. But that winter, I joined the gym and forced myself to go in the mornings. It was bloody cold. And it was hard to get out of bed. But I would repeat to myself “Laugh in the Face of Winter” and I would drag my frozen butt in to the treadmill and work up a sweat.

I found that on the days I started with a good workout and raised my body temperature, the cold didn’t seem to affect me as bad for the rest of the day. It’s like my body coped better with the colder temperatures after being warmed up in the morning. I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, and maybe I should research it… but for now, you’ll just have to trust me that increasing your body temperature with exercise can help the days feel less bitterly cold.

These days I don’t have a gym membership. But I’ve been making an effort to get out and go for a walk on the sunny days. Canberra is bitterly cold in the winter, but we are so lucky to have a lot of gorgeous sunny days. As long as it’s not too windy and I’m dressed appropriately, a quick walk in the sunshine lifts my mood considerably.

You don’t have to carve out a whole hour for a workout or a walk. Even just fifteen minutes, if that’s all you can manage, will make a difference.

Dress appropriately

This should be a no-brainer, but it still amazes me that I forget about it sometimes. This winter I’ve been struggling to enjoy my walks outside, even when it’s nice and sunny. I get home and I’m frozen through to my bones. This is the first winter that I’ve had a baby to think about, so before we go anywhere I spend about 20 minutes making sure he is all rugged up and toasty warm. And then, because I don’t want him to overheat inside with the billions of layers I’ve dressed him in, we get the hell out! And it’s only once we’re out and about that I realise I forgot to dress myself warmly!

My mum loaned me a coat a few days ago when I was walking home from her place. I marvelled at how much warmer I was and how the walk was actually pleasant when I wasn’t trying to hug myself and push the pram at the same time. And then I thought about it. I have coats. I have many coats. I just need to leave one by the door and pull it on as we’re leaving the house and it takes, like, zero seconds. And then I can be comfortable!

Same goes with gloves. Personally I just find them irritating because I have to take them off anytime I want to do anything. But the fact that I can actually do things with my fingers because they’ve been kept warm by my gloves is pretty great!

Invest in warm boots, a coat, some gloves, and maybe a warm hat if you’re not too precious about your hair. You’ll wonder why everyone’s complaining about the cold – what cold?

Seek out the sun

Even if it’s cold, if the sun is out, try and soak it up. Open your curtains and let the sun stream into your home. Go for a drive and enjoy the warmth of the sun coming through the windows of your car. Seek out a sunny spot in a café. If you’re brave, dress appropriately (see previous section) and enjoy your lunch or a coffee sitting outside. It doesn’t have to be for long. Whenever you can, try to soak up some sunshine and consciously appreciate it.

Keep healthy sleep patterns

It’s tempting to stay in bed for a few extra hours on the weekend. Oh, how I fondly remember those days when this was even possible (before I had a baby that demanded I get up). But try to avoid the temptation. Get up at a reasonable time, open the blinds and let the morning light in, make your bed, and get on with your day. The longer you stay in bed the harder it is to get up and get motivated to have a productive day. Promise yourself that if you’re still craving your bed you’ll give yourself an early night.

It’s so important to have healthy sleep patterns and to get enough sleep. But too much sleep can make you lethargic and lazy. Force yourself to get up and get into the day.

Aim for small changes…

When you’re already feeling a bit blue, it’s difficult to go and completely change a whole heap of things at once. It’s great if you can do it, but it might be unsustainable. So why not just pick one or two things that you think you can have a go at today to make winter a bit more bearable.

I’d love to hear how other people get through the winter blues. Leave me a comment and let me know!


Is perfection blocking your path?

One of the things I was looking forward to in running this business was the writing aspect of it. I liked the idea of having a blog where I could share my thoughts with you. I have a lot of ideas of things I’d like to write about.

I was also looking forward to learning a lot. I know nothing about websites or blogging, so it was a whole new world for me to explore, and I love to learn.

I’d be okay with my writer’s block if I could make my hair look like this

But I made a mistake. I did some reading about how to write good blog posts… and I got completely STUCK. For the last couple of weeks I couldn’t write. All the ideas I’d had floating around were suddenly gone because they did not fit the template of a “good blog post”. They didn’t include a list of “how to” or they didn’t tell you in the title why you were failing at something.

Now sure, the tips I read were all important to consider. I’ll keep them in mind, and occasionally I may write a list for you (if I really think it might be useful). But I realised yesterday that by trying to get it perfect right from the start, I was not getting anywhere at all.

So for now, I’m just going to write my posts for you the way I want to write them. Over time my skills may develop to the point that my posts are likely to be shared and to bring more traffic to my website. But right now, I’d like to focus more on developing some consistency and letting you get to know me through the way I write, not through yet another “Thirteen Ways You’re Failing at Life” post.

Here’s the reason I’m sharing this with you: I want you to think about whether there is something that you’re stuck on simply because you only want to do it perfectly. Is perfection blocking your path? I’m curious to know what sort of things YOU might be stuck on. Share with me in the comments.


Reset your goals

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for New Years Resolutions. It gives me a buzz to think of the possibilities that the new year is going to bring. I know, I should get out more…

Anyway, by the time March rolls around I’m still kinda half-heartedly working toward my goals. Then April brings some cooler weather and all my focus turns toward surviving the Canberra winter. By the end of June I’m just peeking out from the top of my doona to see if it’s over yet.

But there is something very special about the end of June…

The first half of the year is over, and a NEW half is about to begin! The first day of July is like a BRAND NEW START! So find a nice spot to settle down for a little thinking time. Don’t have a nice spot at the moment? Go to that cluttered mess that’s supposed to be a nice spot, chuck everything in a box out of sight for now (don’t worry, we’ll come back to that later). Pour yourself something delicious, and crack those knuckles (actually, don’t do that bit – my grandma will rouse on you).

This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the first half of the year and think about where you’re at now. Did you set any resolutions at the start of the year? Have you stuck to them so far? Have you changed your mind about them now?

July is the start of the financial year, so some like to focus on setting financial goals. But you can also take the opportunity to reset your general goals, or re-commit to the plan you had at the beginning of the year. Here’s how I do it:


Reflect on the first half of the year

Think about all that’s happened in the first half of the year:

Where were you on New Years’ Eve and how did you feel at the time?

What goals or intentions did you set?

How long did you stick to them?

Where are you now and how do you feel?


What have you achieved so far?

Think broadly about what you’ve achieved so far and note down anything that went really well. It doesn’t have to be specifically related to your goals – just anything great that happened.

Pull out your diary and calendar and flick through the last six months. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve done that you forgot about.


What challenged you?

Your diary, calendar, or journal might jog your memory on the things that got in your way.

What stopped you from achieving the results you wanted?

Are those challenges still in your life? If so, is there some way around them?

Was it your own self that got in the way? Why?


How do you want to feel?

Focus on how you want to feel. Really – stop what you’re doing right now and imagine feeling that way. Picture yourself displaying that feeling. Now what’s it gonna take to feel that for real?

This is a BIG question. And the answer might seem impossible. But it also might be simple. If it feels really big and hard, then just break it down. What are the things that need to change, big and small?


Identify your goals

Working out how you want to feel should help to identify some important goals for you. Sometimes we have goals that are actually in conflict with how we want to feel. So if you have goals already, I want you to really think about how you’ll feel when you achieve them. Does it match what you identified in the previous section? If so, great! If not, well… you’ve got some thinking to do… and that’s for another post. Or contact me in the meantime if you find yourself in this predicament.

Note down your goals. What is the big thing you’re working toward?

How far do you think you can get toward that in the next six months? This is what you’re going to focus on now.

Where do you want to be at the end of this year? Be specific: on 31 December, what do you want to have achieved? It might be part of a goal or an entire goal. But be very specific.


Break it down

For each goal that you’ve identified, break it down to pieces and smaller time frames.

What are the baby steps involved in achieving this goal?

What will half-way look like?

What steps will you achieve in the first month?

What are your weekly tasks associated with achieving this goal?

How will you see you’re making progress?


Use your diary or calendar

If you use a diary or a calendar, use it to mark out your goals and your tasks. Even just writing your goal at the top of each month can help you focus on taking steps toward it. Whenever you go to schedule something else in, you’ll be reminded of what you’re working toward. When everything else gets so busy, being constantly reminded of your goals will help you to prioritise them or at least squeeze them in.

Set a review date

By now you should have finished that drink of something delicious (and possibly had another one… but I won’t judge). You’re feeling clear (-ish, depending on what you were drinking) and focused and ready to take on the second half of this year and turn it into something great. Take one second to remember how you felt earlier… a bit dull, a bit vague about life, a bit blah. You wanna feel that way again in a few months’ time, after all this work you’ve just put in? No. You don’t.

Set a note on your calendar or in your phone to do a review of your goals.

I recommend having a weekly check-in. This only needs to take 5-10 minutes and doesn’t have to be anything formal. But you need to be reminded to think about what you’re working toward and why, so set a reminder.

Then, at the end of each month have a bit more of a sesh. Maybe spend 30 minutes looking at the past month and planning out the next.

Every three months you should try to find time to go through this whole detailed process and reeeeaaaallly look hard at what’s been going on and what’s coming up.


Reset the year

Whether you’re working on something major or just a bunch of little changes in your life, you can start anytime. Don’t let winter and the mid-year blues hold you back. Use this time as your launch pad, your starting block, your fresh start. Set aside some time to work through the process above and let me know if it works for you.

Of course, if you want some more individualised and guided support, I would love for you to get in touch for a free initial consultation.


9 Ways to Get Motivated and Do That Boring Thing

Just get started

You know that thing that’s been popping up on your to-do list for way too long? And now it just irritates you every time you see it? Or that mammoth task that is just overwhelming and soul-crushingly boring that even if you did know where to start, you just don’t want to? It can be so hard to get motivated and get these things off your list.

Sometimes it’s something so simple and menial that it just never reaches the top of your priority list. An example might be cleaning out the pantry. Or it might be something that’s just too complex and time-consuming that you just can’t find the time to get into it.  A uni assignment or a report for work might fall into this category.

Either way, it’s slowly nibbling away at your happiness – or maybe it’s taking huge greedy gulps – so let’s just deal with it and let you get on with the good stuff in life.

Here are nine ways to get motivated and just get it done:

Stick a note somewhere prominent

Do you find yourself just forgetting the task because other things are more important or more fun? Then stick a big fat reminder on your bathroom mirror, on the fridge, on the front door, or on your hand. Every time you get distracted or start to procrastinate, you’ll remember what it is you’re supposed to be doing. And you’ll have a sense of satisfaction when it’s done and you can tear down that annoying note!

Visualise finishing the task

Whenever I submitted a uni assignment I would feel a crazy wave of relief that it was over, and excitement that I could now move on to something else. Despite often spending waaaaay too many hours sitting at my desk and way too few hours sleeping as I approached a deadline, I would be filled with energy after submitting the assignment. So when I was feeling stuck or unmotivated, I would try to visualise hitting the submit button and feeling that awesome rush. It was often enough to push me to keep working.

Think about WHY you must do it

Using the example of a uni assignment again, I’d often feel resentful because the topic wasn’t interesting or the assignment seemed pointless. So I’d remind myself of the big picture. I was completing a degree that was important to me because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people. That assignment, however boring, was contributing to my overall degree. Using the example of a menial task around the house, I think about how having a clean and organised home makes me feel happy and helps my family to function easier. Thinking about the big picture can often help you to either appreciate the importance of the task, or at least just grit your teeth and get it done.

Set a timer

We often overestimate how long something boring or difficult is going to take. I sometimes think I don’t have time to empty the dishwasher, but in reality, it only takes me two minutes if I stay focused on it. I know this because I can empty the whole load in the time it takes my oats to cook in the microwave! It’s when we get distracted (hello Facebook) or start procrastinating that these tasks take forever.

See how much you can get done in 15 minutes and allow yourself to stop once the timer goes off if you feel like it. You’ll often find that once you get started it’s easier to just keep going, but even if you stop after the 15 minutes, you will have achieved so much more than if you hadn’t focused for that time.

Even if it’s a huge task and you know it will take hours, setting a timer can help keep you focused and get more done. One of my favourite tools for staying focused is the Pomodoro technique. This is where you work on the task for 25 minutes, and then have a 5-minute break, then work for 25 minutes, then another 5-minute break. During the 25-minute focus zone, whenever I think of something else I want to do, I just jot it down and then do it during the 5-minute break. You can have a CRAZY productive day working like this.

Break it up

If, like me, you love the satisfaction of crossing things off lists, then break the task up into smaller chunks and write them on a list. As you do each part you can cross it off and see that you’re making progress. Or if lists don’t excite you, you can at least make progress on the task in smaller chunks, so you don’t feel like it’s taking up all of your day.

Reward yourself

Plan a nice reward for yourself once the task is done. It might be a relaxing soak in the tub with a book, or a night out with the girls to celebrate. Whatever you choose, it should be something that you don’t normally do and something that you’re not going to indulge in before the task is done.

Pair it up with something enjoyable.

Having time to listen to a podcast uninterrupted is a very rare treat for me these days, so if I have stuff around the house that needs doing, I find it’s actually more enjoyable if I can listen to a podcast at the same time. For something like an assignment or a work report, try doing it in a different environment like a café or by the lake.

Set a deadline

Tell yourself that by 5pm Friday this task is no longer going to be haunting you. Even if the task already has a set deadline (like a uni assignment for example), bring that time forward so you can get it done sooner and move on to something else.

Think about what’s stopping you

Is it that you don’t understand the content or process? Or you don’t have the right equipment? Are you afraid of failing? Are you worried about how long it will take? Is your environment dragging you down? Work out what it is that’s making this task so unappealing, and see if you can find a way to address that.

Get in touch

Feel free to comment on this post or contact me about which boring or difficult tasks you’re struggling with. Or let me know other tricks you use to motivate yourself. And then… just get that thing done and move on with your life!

If you need some more targeted and individualised support with getting – and staying – motivated, consider hiring a coach to help you.

From ordinary to excellent – it doesn’t take much.

I’m a big fan of just getting something done without obsessing over getting it perfect. But I’m also a big fan of striving for excellence wherever possible. Contradictory? Maybe… But what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t take much to just do a little better. So my philosophy is “get it done, then do a little better”.

This week we had new flooring laid in our house. The job involved jackhammering to remove the old tiles, then we had vinyl planks laid in part of the house and carpet in the other part. We were told to remove all our furniture out (obviously), and we also decided to remove anything from the benches and walls because we expected some dust from the jackhammering. I didn’t think it would be necessary to empty the cupboards or anything though.

We left the house for a week to stay out of their way, and I was really looking forward to getting home and seeing the end result. But all we could see when we walked in was a thick layer of dust over everything (including the new floor), and the carpet was covered in billions of loose fibers. Even inside the cupboards everything was covered in thick dust. There was also blood on several walls where one of the workers had obviously cut themselves. The cleanup took dozens of hours just so we could get the place functional, and will continue for weeks as we make our way through the cupboards and their contents.

Once the main cleaning was done the new floors looked great, but any happiness I could have felt about them was washed down the drain with the billionth load of grimy water.

Now my point is, the flooring company we dealt with could have done any of a number of small things to make this a positive experience for us. They could, at the very least, have set our expectations so that we would not be shocked by the mess and we could have prepared better. But they also could have used protective sheeting over the cupboards, cleaned the floors so that their own product looked good, or even offered a cleaning service for an additional cost. It wouldn’t have taken much for us to be rapt with the result, but instead we were hugely disappointed and will certainly not use the same company when it comes to doing the other half of the house!

We also bought a new car this week (it’s been a very expensive week)! We bought the car off the same dealer who sold us a car a couple of years ago. We remembered he was great to deal with, no bullshit, no sneaky sales tactics, and not at all slimy, so we were keen to deal with him again. Between my husband’s initial enquiry a couple of weeks ago, and our visit to the dealership to place the order, the dealer had obviously looked up our previous sale and refreshed his memory on our details, so as we were walking through the car yard and he was assisting some other customers, he acknowledged us both by name. This was such a tiny detail, but he had made the effort and I appreciated his attention to detail and his friendly service. We will definitely continue to deal with that dealership as long as this salesperson works there, because he takes those tiny steps to ensure we have a great experience whenever we deal with him.

It really doesn’t take much to take something from ordinary to excellent. The two examples I’ve given here are both related to customer service, but this applies to anything in your life. What is something you think you could be taken from ordinary to excellent with a tiny adjustment?

Stop overthinking it!

Is there something in your life that you overthink and it holds you back from happiness or success?

I overthink gifts. While I love to give good gifts, I get myself so worked up and anxious over buying gifts that it has become something I dread. I want to make sure the gift is useful, good quality, will be loved by the receiver, doesn’t seem too cheap, etc. But I manage to talk myself out of every gift idea I see, and in the end I’ve run out of time and energy and I end up buying something completely crappy and thoughtless, and being embarrassed to give it!

My friend overthinks her relationships. Hasn’t heard from her new partner in 5 hours? Maybe he’s not really into her… maybe he’s changed his mind… maybe he’s dating other people and keeping his options open… She gets so worried and worked up over what might be going on, and that worry is dragging down whatever possible happiness she could be experiencing in a new relationship.

And don’t even get me started on all the things my husband overthinks!

What is it in your life that you overthink, and how do you tackle it?

Here are 5 ways to stop overthinking:

Be aware of your trouble-areas for overthinking

Becoming aware of the problem is the first step to dealing with it.

Plan for it

For example, I need to brainstorm gift ideas before heading to the shops for inspiration. Wherever possible I need to try and have a specific plan before going to the shops. My friend might plan to not contact her partner until a certain time (say, 6 hours away) unless she hears from him first, and in the meantime, she could focus on some positive, funny, loving things that she might tell him when she does talk to him. This could distract her from thinking of all the negative reasons she hasn’t heard from him yet.

What else could you be doing?

Consciously ask yourself: “If I were to just stop over-thinking this issue, what else could I be doing at the moment?” Rather than spending another four hours wandering the shops, I could be sitting down enjoying a coffee. Rather than stressing about her boyfriend’s lack of contact, my friend could be using the time to do something she enjoys.

Give yourself a time limit.

Allow yourself to think about it for a certain amount of time, and then force yourself to move on to something else. For example, I might only give myself 4 hours total to find a gift. I know as I’m approaching the deadline that I have to just pick something, even if I don’t think it’s 100% perfect. It’s probably still better than the piece of crap I’ll buy after sixteen hours of shopping on an empty stomach.

Consider the future impact.

As much as I want to find the perfect gift, if I’m a little off target and the receiver doesn’t love it, the world is not going to end. If my friend continues to get herself worked up she runs the risk of seeming like a crazy lady to her new boyfriend, and she’s really not that crazy so it would be unfortunate to scare him off unnecessarily!

This is not a comprehensive list of ways to stop overthinking… You see, I spent a long time thinking about this post before I decided to just get it down and move on.

Help me out here… what are some ways YOU stop yourself from overthinking something? Leave me a note in the comments.