25+ Ways to Beat the Winter Doldrums

 


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Now that Christmas has passed and we’re in the new year, what do we have to look forward to? Winter, that’s what. When winter is nice, its nice, but when its harsh…batten down the hatches, gird the mind, and prepare for battle!

And harsh is exactly what last winter was for most of the country with the dull, gray skies, the extreme cold (aka Polar Vortexes), the unrelenting snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, sleet, and that frozen stuff called graupel. In the month of February, pretty much no school district in our metropolitan area made it a full week without having to cancel classes due to weather.

And then there were the ubiquitous, mega black holes potholes; all across the metropolitan area, city and suburbs alike, streets look like they’d been blasted by meteorite storms. For many drivers last year, including yours truly, those craterous potholes proved to be downright tire-killers. Yes, that was definitely a winter for the record books.  Let’s…not do that again…

Uh, Is It Over Yet?

While this winter hasn’t been all that rough, a lot of us are ready to move on to warmer, snow-less days. Yes, winter may come around just once per year, but it always seems to last the whole year through…

If this winter is already driving you to the edge, hang on, spring will come. Until then, try these twenty-five (plus) things that just might help you make it to spring:

  1. Enjoy a variety of organic hot tea.

  2. Drink lots of organic hot chocolate.
  3. Join a gym, try a new workout plan, meet new people.
  4. Try solar light therapy.
  5. Do yoga. Hot yoga.
  6. Listen to / watch summer oriented videos. Here are a few to get you started: Cruel Summer, Summertime, Boys of Summer.
  7. In defiance of winter, eat ice cream. Bonus points: eat ice cream outside. Hardcore bonus points: make and eat snow ice cream as the snow falls. Use a fork and a knife, and laugh manically, the whole time.

  8. Pick a weekend to stay in, then crank up the heat and humidifier and wear bathing suits all weekend long.

  9. Organic chocolate. ’nuff said.
  10. Explore the art of fermentation. Your gut and your taste buds will thank you.
  11. Bake some tasty treats.
  12. Spend a weekend at a local hotel, just for the fun of it. Better yet, book a room at one with an indoor pool, or spa, or indoor water park.
  13. Binge-watch “Tidying up with Marie Condo” and then, downsize your stuff.
  14. Start an indoor greenhouse.
  15. Cultivate an indoor garden or terrarium.
  16. Plan and execute a big ole indoor picnic on your living room floor. Bonus points: sprinkle #20 on the situation.
  17. Use a flame thrower to clear the snow and ice from your driveway and sidewalks. Yeah, I dare ya.
  18. Watch television show or movies that take place in warm locales. Examples: Magnum Pi (the original of course), Miami Vice, and South Pacific.
  19. Host a luau for friends.
  20. Ant farms aren’t just for kids, so get yourself one. Besides, you’ll need some ants for #16.
  21. Camp out in your living room or basement. Pitch a tent or build an expansive blanket fort, and find a safe way to roast marshmallows indoors.
  22. Listen to Pyrate Radio and enjoy tropical rock tunes.
  23. Start a new hobby.
  24. Volunteer at a local school, community center, library, hospital, animal shelter, etc.
  25. Start a side business.
  26. See how many books you can read in one month.
  27. Write your own book.
  28. Purchase or borrow a telescope and explore the glorious winter skies.
  29. Start formulating next year’s Winter Escape Plan. Think Florida, or Hawaii, or some nice arid, warm desert. Seriously, let’s just be like the birds and leave winter behind next year.


There you go. If you have other interesting ways to beat winter, please comment below.

I’d like to thank my good friends / co-conspirators Julie and Sherri for contributing to this list! Be sure to visit Julie’s jewelry site and browse her unique and cool creations: julie.designer

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Come on, SPRING, come on!

Eric



Want to Conquer 2020? Answer these 7 Questions ASAP!

 



If you are satisfied with what you see as you look back on 2019, and if you are pleased with your current trajectory, congrats, this post is not for you.  Seriously…you’re good, you’re already killin’ it, so…move along…

But, if you look back over this past year and shake your head, frown, and cuss more than you smile and laugh, and if you want better, desire the best out of the new year, quiet your mind, open your heart, stoke your imagination and answer these seven simple questions. There’s no need to rush, so take your time and give it some expansive mental exploration, some deep thought, and answer as truly and as wholeheartedly as you can. If you do, your answers just might surprise you, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll gain the  insight and clarity you need to conquer 2020.

Ask Your Heart

1. What do I want? 

For most of us, within the core of our heart and soul, we know what we want, whether fully, or on an unspoken intuitive level, but we are for whatever reason reluctant to fully verbalize it.  If that’s you, feel the fear and write out everything that you want still.  Don’t censor yourself; everything, whether physical stuff, or non-physical things, or experiences, whether inane or poignant, write it all down.

2. Who do I want to be this time next year?

Note, this is not asking what job or title you want to have, or what new role(s) you want to fill next year.  No, by December 2020, what do you want your inner landscape, the true-you to be?  

3. Why?

Yes, why?  As you’ve probably heard before, knowing your why, your reason for choosing  a new path, is vital, and it could mean the difference between pressing on or giving up when the road gets tough.  Name, know, and understand your why.

4. What do I need to give up?

Think in terms of attitudes, actions, and unhelpful / unhealthful patterns.  Just pick the one that will have the greatest impact.

5. What do I need to take on?

Think in terms of attitudes, actions, and helpful / unhealthful patterns that you need to adopt. Again, don’t go crazy and try to take on ten new positive habits;  start with one.

6. In what area(s) of my life do I need to stop holding back?

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:6) When we hold back, the rewards will be few, or none.  So, where do you need to go all-in?

7. What am I willing to sacrifice for my greatest good?

Very few things in life that are truly valuable and meaningful are free. Everything has a price.  What price are you willing to pay for bringing out the good, the better, the best in you?

2020 Vision

When you’ve answered these questions once, answer them again, and keep answering them until you hit bedrock and can go no further.  At this point, if not before, you’ll begin to gain an amazing clarity that will light the path ahead and go a long way toward helping you conquer the new year!

 


Here’s to a year of thriving!

Eric


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There’s Still Time…


…for one more set!  

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Even Santa, as busy as he is, is makin’ the time…  How about you?

Merry Christmas!

Eric


 

What’s in Your Winter Bug-Battle-Bag?



Like the opening scene of a zombie outbreak movie, it all starts when the dude standing next to you sneezes…

One thought floods your mind: Oh %$@%, whatever he’s got, I’m gonna get!  Then you wonder if its a cold, the flu, or some crazy, slimy, mutated space virus.  You hold your breath for the next 30 minutes, but it’s already too late, ’cause you’re certain that one of his little germs jumped the gap and landed in your eye.  And it’s multiplying fast, this lone bug–weak, you’re already feeling weak and peaked! But then you take a mental step back and realize that maybe you’re overreacting and there’s no need to enter full panic-mode.  You go about your day, and you enjoy your evening, but when you wake up, when you roll out of bed the next morning, you start the new day…with a sneeze…

The story doesn’t have to end this way.  There are some natural, everyday things you can do to strengthen your immunity and avoid catching the snot-strings of misery of those around you.  Want to learn more?  

Before I  share the top items that I’ve found useful in reducing the strength and shortening the duration of a seasonal illness, remember, I’m not a doctor.  I share what works for me, so that by chance this information might be helpful* to you.  But as with anything, please do your research and speak with your healthcare provider before trying any of the below.  

Also, so as not to disrupt the flow of this post, at the end, I’ll provide a link to a page containing the products I mention.

Now, let’s talk about what in my “Bug Battle Bag”…

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Mask not included!

Pre-Battle Plan

My pre-battle plan is simple: remain self-aware.  I find that if I react to the cold or even flu at the very earliest signs, I’m much more likely to prevent the worst of it from occurring.  Not only that, there have been many instances when I was able to fight it off in a matter of hours, instead of days.

What do I mean by “self-aware”?  I mean I listen to my body and feel what I feel:

  • Is that itchy, hairy-patch feeling in my throat from thirst, or dry air, or something else?
  • If my energy has dropped, why?
  • I notice my heart rate; if my resting rate is higher than normal, I know something is up.  
  • Does my nose smell different?  Yes, as weird as it sounds, at the start of a cold, even before most other symptoms pop up, the inside of my nose takes on a distinct aroma.
  • Has my emotional capacity diminished?  Or, in other words, am I crabbier than usual for no apparent reason?

If I notice two or more of these early symptoms, I sound the red alert and break out the big guns.

The “Big Guns”

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At the first signs of the enemy, I reach into my bug battle bag and go right for the big guns.  Below are my most powerful nutritional interventions.  Each of these natural items provide some level of antiviral or antibiotic support as well as a boost to the immune system*.

Oregano Oil:  Oregano oils is a potent antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial agent.  I start with a couple drops under my tongue, and increase per suggested dosage.  

Colostrum:  This is actually part of my daily supplement routine.  I wrote about the fantastic benefits of colostrum in a previous post, so check it out for a more detailed look at this superfood: Colostrum

Echinacea:  I have taken echinacea as a capsule supplement but prefer it in tea or lozenge form.

Elderberry:  There are many great options for taking this powerful, immune-boosting herb.  I’ve yet to try the syrup, but have had good results with the tea and throat lozenges.  

Alkaline Water:  This one is quite controversial, but it seems to work for me.  Because overuse could negatively affect stomach acid production, I only drink alkaline water for the few days it take to fight off the cold.  Even then, I am careful not to drink it around meal time.  A better solution for increasing one’s alkalinity can be found in the simple lemon.  Though acidic when taken in, lemon juice (preferably fresh-squeezed from half an organic lemon) actually alkalizes the body when processed by the digestive system.

Daily Armor

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You are probably familiar with the following conventional, everyday armor, so I’ll keep it brief. While the best way to get these vitamins and minerals is through a proper diet, sometimes a supplemental boost is needed*.

Ionic Magnesium:  While magnesium may not directly aid in the battle against winter bugs, it is very important and necessary for good health.  In short, magnesium plays a part in hundreds of biological processes, and unfortunately, most of suffer some level of deficiency.  

Liposomal Vitamin C:  You’ve probably known about the importance of vitamin C since elementary school.  You already know it helps fight colds, acts an antioxidant and is vital for general health.  But you many not know that this form of vitamin C is gentle on the gut and has been shown to be much more absorbable and bio-available than the standard, non-liposomal forms.  

Vitamin D:  Without a doubt, over the past 10 years, you’ve heard a lot about the importance of vitamin D as related to immunity and overall health.  Be sure to choose a non-GMO supplement containing D3 (cholecalciferol).

Zinc:  This often overlooked mineral can boost immunity.  There are many forms of zinc to consider, but one of the best absorbed is zinc picolinate.  

Probiotics:  Whether it’s by consuming probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kefir, or kombucha, or by taking a daily probiotic supplement, be sure to get enough of the good bugs in your diet.  Studies have shown that the majority of our immune system is in our gut, so not only will our gut benefit from a healthy biome, but our whole self will too.

Monolaurin: Used in many everyday products and foods, monolaurin is derived from coconut fatty acid and has been known to boost the immune system and stop and treat bacterial, fungal, or viral infections.

Berberine:  Balancing the gut biome by hindering or destroying harmful bacteria while sparing helpful bacteria is among the many benefits of berberine. 

Other Useful Tactics 

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Common sense tactics that you already know, yes, but these too should be components of your bug battle bag:

  • Wash hands often
  • Keep skin from cracking by using healthier alternative lotions free of parabens, phthalates, etc.
  • Keep nasal passages moist.  Consider purchasing a humidifier.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • As discussed in a previous post, eat nutrient-dense foods, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and find positive ways to manage your stress.
  • Reduce sugar intake.
  • Keep working out but be do not over do it.  Consider creating awinter training moderegime.
  • Reduce overall excessive body tension.  This too requires a good level of self-awareness as well as breath control.  I’ll provide more information on why and how soon.
  • Consider adding oil pulling and earthing to your daily routine.  Check out my previous posts on both of these interesting and helpful subjects: Oil Pulling, Earthing

Additional Suggestions

man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at white printer papers on the wall

Start building your bug battle-bag by researching and purchasing the listed items (see link below).  It might be a good idea to get enough for both home and the office, if possible.  Next, write out your battle plan.  Your plan should be pretty simple, maybe a few lines written on a 3″x5″ card, listing the steps you will take to stay healthy and to restore health when fighting a bug.  Or you can go all-out and post diagrams, charts, information sheets, etc on your refrigerator, or bathroom or bedroom wall, or on your computer desktop.  However you do it, make a plan now and then follow it as closely as possible if / when you notice that first sneeze.  

Once you have your plan in place, keep in mind that you will have to try it and tweak it, try it tweak it, until you find what works best for you; even then, it may not work 100% of the time.  Think of this as an ongoing experiment that promises to yield very valuable results, so stick with it if at first you don’t succeed.


As promised, here’s a link to a page containing the items mentioned above: Winter Bug Battle-Bag. You can also find more immune boosters here: Immune Support.

Wishing you the good, better, and absolutely best of what’s possible!

Eric



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Energize Your Morning with These Routines, Part 3/3: 5TR

 


This blog contains affiliate links.  For information, see full disclosure here.


What does your morning workout entail?  Ever thought of adding a simple routine that has the potential of building inner and outer strength, flexibility, and suppleness?  What if such a routine also strengthened the mind and helped you manage your stress?  Would you try it?  
In this series, I’m going to share three fairly simple yet very effective routines that I benefit from and use several days a week.  You may have heard of them, but if not, take a look, give them a try, and maybe you’ll find a new way to energize the start of your day!

Energizing Routine 3: Five Tibetan Rites

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The Five Tibetan Rites (5TR) are a series of yoga-like exercises that, like Yi Jin Jing (YJJ) and Zhan Zhuang (ZZ), can revitalize and energize both mind and body.  In fact, 5TR is sometimes referred to as a “fountain of youth” that among other things can improve eyesight and turn gray hair dark again. While that sounds great, we all know to take such statements with a grain of salt.  Still, it sounds very intriguing, so let’s take a look.

Fountain of Youth?

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Yeah, these dudes are 79 years old!

The Five Tibetan Rites consists of five exercises that are performed in order, twenty-one times each. After each set, a brief recovery pose or posture is held for few moments before continuing on with the next exercise.  If you workout on a consistent basis, at first glance the whole “twenty-one times each” won’t seem like a big deal, but it is; the challenge is real.  It is recommended that when one begins training the 5TR, one starts out slowly, say, at seven each, or less if needed, and then work up to the full twenty-one. Learning the correct form, breath coordination, and muscle usage, etc. are vital.

It is believed that by performing 5TR on a regular basis per the prescribed method, the spin of one’s internal energy centers are strengthened and realigned thereby energizing the body and the mind in amazing ways. Some of the positive effects of this realignment are said to include anti-aging, improved coordination, increased strength and flexibility, and mental and emotional grounding, clarity and enhanced calm.

My Experiences

I found the 5TR several years ago when I was searching for a simple yet engaging and healthful exercise routine to begin the day.  The benefits sounded great, even with that big grain of salt, so after researching the Rites, I gave it a try.  The newness made the routine fun but it did take several sessions to memorize the (somewhat simple) movements and coordinate the movements with the breath.  I started slowly, maybe doing just 5 or 7 reps for a week or two before adding more.  I don’t remember if I did the Rites every day, but I do recall the resulting increased endurance and strength, and greater muscle tone.

After that initial experiment, I shifted to using the 5TR on a semi-consistent basis, mainly as a quick way to build strength and endurance apart from my regular routines.  I’ll practice it for several weeks prior to a karate seminar or when it is time to exit winter training mode but other than that, it hasn’t been part of my everyday, year-round training.  Oh, and I have to admit that during all that time, I never actually hit the magical number 21; that didn’t happen until quite recently.  

So what happened at 21?  No, I wasn’t able to shed my glasses, and my bio-chronological clock didn’t tick backwards, but I did feel a noticeable increase in physical energy and mental clarity and focus.  At 21, there was an almost addictive (in a good way) sense, most likely due to endorphins, and I could hardly wait to perform the Rites again the next morning.  While this extra energy may all be in my head, a placebo effect of sorts, I’m okay with that because what starts in the mind can and often does show up in the body.  

At the time of this entry, it’s been several weeks since I last performed the 5TR.  When I start up again, either in a few weeks or at the end of winter training mode, my goal is to work my way back to 21 reps for each exercise, and do it on a consistent basis.  I want to see how long the benefits I encountered last, how far they go, and if any other benefits are unlocked.

The Next Step

If you’re curious about the 5TR, just click the link above, or if you’re fortunate to find a good teacher near you, contact them and give it a go.  Whether you purchase a book or DVD and try it on your own, or with an instructor’s supervision, following the prescribed training plan is the only way to reap the full benefits; there are no shortcuts.  

Finally, as with Yi Jin Jing and Zhan Zhuang, I’m confident if you make the 5TR a part of your morning routine, you will be glad you did!

Click over to our Five Tibetan Rites page for more resources.  


Wishing you the good, better, and absolutely best of what’s possible!

Eric



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