Surviving Winter Stress

About 1/2 of all Americans report feeling depressed in winter. Seasonal affective disorder can cause energy loss, grumpy moods and carb craving. Here’s how to beat the stress of winter!

Beat the Stress of Winter Blues

For over two decades, I lived in New England and battled the grey, cold, snowy winters every year. Then I moved to Florida where we have sunshine regularly- I love the sun! I have been infinitely happier. Not only because I prefer warmth, but because all that grey depressed me.  And lately we have been having Northeasters in Florida which create similar grey days. Enough to give me the blues.

And I’m not the only one. About 1/2 of all Americans report feeling depressed in winter. Seasonal affective disorder can cause energy loss, grumpy moods and carb craving.

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Steve Martin

How to Beat the Winter Blues

Go outside. Yes- even if it is cold out, spending time in nature boosts your mood. Try 20 minutes a day without sun block. (After that, slather up.) Many people are deficient in Vitamin D3, which you normally get from the sun. This vitamin is critical to your overall health and mood. Consider taking D3 supplements and have your doctor test your levels. I get it in liquid form.

Take vacations in the winter to someplace warm

Try light therapy with a 10,000 lux lamp – 30 minutes a day significantly boosts mood and energy

Exercise- A most powerful mood booster made even better when you do it with others. Socializing helps you feel better.

Use aromatherapy. Peppermint boosts alertness, as do orange and lemon scents.

• Do something you love every day.

Remember, unless you live in Alaska, winter is only a few months long. Take care of yourself and get Fired Up!


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Recharge Your Brain with Down Time

“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly -spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.” Susan Taylor

Access Your Creativity Through Quiet Time

meditation as stress reliever from Stress ExpressMost busy professionals have very little time for themselves. Deadlines, quotas, meetings, family, life obligations all take a toll on our personal time. Your brain never turns off.  You probably have “cerebral congestion.”

Recent study  by LexisNexis of 1,700 white collar workers in the U.S., China, South Africa, the U.K. and Australia showed employees spend more than half their workdays receiving and managing data rather than using it to do their jobs; 50% confessed that they were reaching a breaking point.
Most of our best ideas come from quiet time. Many great concepts that later became life-improving products originated in the shower.  Several companies  encourage employees to take one day a week to work on whatever project they want- whether it’s part of their job description or not. Some of these companies’ best innovations resulted. But if there’s no time, no quiet space, no daydreaming, there’s very little room for innovation.

How Can You Get More Quiet Time?

cut down on meetings and shorten them. Ask- could this be accomplished in an email or memo? Make a guideline that all meetings get done in 15 minutes or less. Tell people in advance to laser their thoughts.

exercise nearly every day-and instead of watching TV, talking on the phone or reading emails while you’re doing it, just be quiet. Play soothing environmental music. Or get outside. Let your brain wander while you are in nature.

sleep at least 7 hours a night. Sleep is critical to your overall health, well-being and memory. In true restful sleep, your brain synthesizes through various levels of consciousness and replenishes itself. The quiet of sleep is absolutely necessary for sanity, not to mention performance and achievement.

meditate. Even if it is only for 10 minutes a day, taking the time to be quiet and go inside, listen, and breathe deeply can give the brain a vital rest.

take your vacation time. In 2013, most Americans left 4 vacation days on the table. No laptops or emails or phone calls on vacation. Be truly off the grid and come back refreshed and revitalized.

get outside in nature. The new field of ecopsychology demonstrates that spending time in nature relaxes the brain, restores the body and spirit.

Your brain has great wisdom and gifts to share with you. It can only do so when it truly has a chance to recharge. Give it that time.

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More Vacation Days = Better Productivity

More Time Off  Means Better, Happier, Healthier Workers

Did you know that if women aged 45-64 took two weeks of vacation a year, they would cut the incidence of heart attacks in half!  That’s right, the simple act of going on vacation can save your life. (Boston College study)

Exhausted woman from Stress Express!According to Expedia, 34% of employed Americans  return from vacation feeling better about their jobs and are even more productive.  53% say they come back feeling rested and rejuvenated.

At Red Frog, the CEO gives his employees unlimited time off.  That’s right- unlimited time off.  And it’s never abused or taken for granted.  Because more time off means greater productivity.  You have time to recharge and renew; creativity abounds and you return to work with a good attitude, ready to take on challenges.

In 2011, 70% did not take all their allotted vacation time.  Managers: take note- this is not a good idea. Encourage your people to take all their time off, and consider giving them more.  You may just find you have even greater success and better results.

 ©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference

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Are You Burnt-Out? The Top Ways to Find Out…


Stressed out Woman pulling her hairOne third of Americans say they are living with extreme stress.1 Career says that 78% of all American workers feel burned out (not just stressed.) Nearly 80% of all doctor visits are stress-related and 43% of all adults have ill health because of stress.

Stress is linked to the six major causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung disease, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide.2  How about you?  How are your stress levels?

Check any questions that apply to you:

– You come home regularly dead-tired with little or no energy.

– The concept of vacation is inconceivable to you- you have way too much to do to go away.

– You don’t have time to exercise regularly or participate in your favorite hobbies.

– You snap at your loved ones and friends fairly often.

If 3 of the above are true for you, you may be hovering near burnout.

1. Being continually exhausted. Whether you are getting less than the 7 hours a night of sleep (the minimum to prevent cancer according to the World Health Organization) or you are working very long hours, this symptom is a wake-up call. Get a medical check-up, consider vitamins and supplements, and spend more time in play, in addition to getting more sleep.

2. Vacations: Expedia found that 34% of Americans don’t go on vacation at all!What’s scary about that is for women aged 45-64, two weeks of vacation cut their incidence of heart attack in half! 3 Expedia found most people feel rested and rejuvenated after vacation, are more productive and more satisfied with their marriages.  A coach in Canada discovered that when his clients doubled their vacation days, they doubled their income.4

3. Exercise- You know exercise is good for you, improves your memory and slows the aging process.  But did you know that it can also reduce stress reduction and increase joy? The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reported that runners were 70 percent less likely to experience high stress and life dissatisfaction.  You don’t have to run, but do something physical at least 30 minutes 4 days a week.  Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter says even a sometime workout can reduce the risk of heart failure by 18%.

4. Relationships are key.  Snapping at loved ones destroys relationships. Whether they’re family or friends, they are critical to your health and well-being.  Spending time with friends creates the release of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that relieves stress and promotes euphoria.  Those who had the most friends over a 9 year time period cut their risk of death by 60%.5 Whether with a friend, partner, a parent or relative, a key indicator in two different happiness studies demonstrate that strong friendships and connections lead to joy.6

Whatever you can do to change your life, reduce your stress levels and increase your joy is going to make a big difference, both in the short and long-term.  Take care of yourself and the rest of your life will come into much better balance.


1. “Stress in US Rises, Causes Health Problems,” The Scoop, The Meeting Professional, March 2008, p.442.

2. Anschuetz, Barbara L. Dr, “The High Cost of Caring- Coping with Workplace Stress,”

3&4. Brown, Sarah,  “Clean Break,” Vogue, June 2003

5. &6. Taylor, S. E.; Klein, L.C.; Lewis, B. P.; Gruenewald, T. L.; Gurung, R. A. R.; & Updegraff, J. A.                “Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight”, Psychological Review (2000), 107(3), p.41-429.