Category: Hope

Put Off The Laundry! Instead: An Important, Overlooked Tool for Habit Changing in the New Year

I should be doing laundry, or scrubbing the toilet, or any number of household tasks. But I’m here to tell you to put those things off. If you have a few moments (and I’m going to guess so, if you’re reading this blog post) it’s likely the most useful way you can spend this time is in the simple act of focused self-reflection.

Studies and anecdotal evidence show that when we take time to reflect on a regular basis, we are often able to grow and make changes in ways that otherwise have been impossible. Last year I posted some year-end reflection questions here, and I just spent an hour looking over my own answers from a year ago and answering the same questions again, from where I am today.

Having time and space to reflect is both a luxury and a necessity (kinda like all those other good things: physical movement, time with people who care about us, nourishing food, etc.). Sure, it would have been helpful to have spent the last hour doing laundry or another hundred household tasks, but when we prioritize the immediate, it makes it harder for us to make medium and long-term changes. I believe strongly that most of the time household tasks can wait – what’s a little extra laundry tomorrow? – in favor of reflection that could have way more long-term payoff. 

So here are a few questions to kickstart some reflection time. Turn off your phone notifications, find a quiet space, and give yourself 10 minutes to reflect.

  1. To the extent I have control and influence over my life, how would I like to start the new year?
  2. What would I like to let go of (self-defeating thoughts, behaviors, relationships, etc.) as 2019 starts? Who and what can support me to do this? What barriers can I anticipate and prevent?
  3. What would I like more of in 2019? Who are what can support me to do this? What barriers can I anticipate and prevent?
  4. What are the values and priorities I want to keep front-and-center in 2019?

Preparing for the S.A.D. Time of Year

Seasonal Affective DisorderEach fall, clients come into my office saying, “I know it’s getting to be the holiday season but…” or “It’s just so dark all the time and it’s getting to me.” They’re noticing their moods darkening, their energy lagging, and their interest in life waning. It’s usually not that life is suddenly harder and more full of challenges than usual. Instead, what they’re describing is just – SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder, a subset of depression.

If you don’t know about SAD, the mood changes you experience during the darker months may feel inexplicable, confusing and maddening. But there is a reason so many people–an estimated 5 percent of us–feel lower and slower in the winter. SAD is real. As human creatures, we’re impacted by the environment, including darkness and light, in ways that scientists are just beginning to fully comprehend.

I want to write about this right now, in October, because so often SAD gets worse the less light there is and the further into winter we come. If you’ve dealt with SAD in the past, it’s likely not in full force right now, though you may notice uneasy apprehension, wondering how bad this winter will be. This is the time of year to be proactive and prepare. The good news is that phototherapy (the use of specific lights), talk therapy, physical movement, and all sorts of other strategies can help. You don’t have to feel SAD all winter long.