Pastor Brad Hoefs

Pastor | Author | Speaker | Hope Coach | Mental Health Advocate

Allow Yourself to Grieve by Rick Qualls

Allow Yourself to Grieve by Rick Qualls

Grieving is part of depression. With depression come loss. Depression may have changed your feelings so that even positive things are seen negatively.

You may not “be yourself”.  Your energy levels are lower, you socialize less, you may think less clearly, medicines often have unwanted side effects.

You may feel as though you are not the same person as before depression. These losses are real.

Foggy headed, I remember one incident while severely depressed, I became confused driving familiar roads. It was startling and frightening. Afterwards I grieved over being confused.

I was angry, shocked about this symptom of my depression. Embarrassed I wondered what was happening to me. I wondered if this would be a permanent.

I grieved over “not being me.”

What is the answer to the questions?  First, remember there are treatments that can lift the fog of depression.  There are many treatments with new ones being pioneered every day. Don’t give in to grief.

Two, this depression will pass.

Three, with the help of your doctors and therapists look at your depression management program and see if changes are needed.

One of the first questions we ask in the middle of these “losses” is:  Why?  Why me, God?

Is it totally random?  Is it because of personal circumstances?  Is it the result of dysfunctional cognitive functioning?  Is is genetic?  Chemical?

We may never know.  What I have found helpful is to begin asking, “How” instead of “Why”.  Since I am depressed how will I deal with it.  If I can’t control having the disease, how can I manage it?

When you are grieving don’t beat yourself up.  Grief requires emotional and physical rest.  Grief is a process different for everyone. Take care of your physical needs, eat well, exercise and spend time with positive people.

One of the things that helps process grief is to repeat your story. In the repetition the mind and heart process feelings.

Allow yourself to grieve.

With the best of your ability turn to God as your refuge.

Psalm 46:1-2  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”



7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

Over the years, I have found that having hope is crucial in being able to live well.  That is, believing that I have a future, and a purpose for my life has been the one key factor that has enabled me to regain my life back.  But, to be honest, hopelessness far too often is lurking right behind me like a very dark shadow waiting to block out any ray of hope.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.  It comes about quickly if I fail to see a future and a plan for my life.  Hopelessness quickly gives way to despair and then the despair gives way to depression.  And suddenly I can find myself in a deep dark bit that overwhelms into emotional pain, isolation, and no will to get up and live.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.

It is a “cancer” that damages my soul and can lead me into the darkest deepest despair possible.  It would be all too easy to embrace this-this familiar enemy of hopelessness. So, every day I take great care to keep this “creeper” of hopelessness away. It takes daily focus for me to remain hope-filled; knowing that my life has meaning and purpose.  I have a future and so do you.  You have a future and a purpose!  Even all of the pain that you and I have experienced due to having bipolar disorder has purpose.

For me, knowing what hopelessness that is caused by a depressive mood looks like for me has been crucial in learning to live well.  What are the early signs? How quickly do I spiral down?  So through the years I have developed a workable plan for me when even the slightest bit of hopelessness rears its ugly head.

So, these are the seven things that I pay attention to when I feel even the slightest bit of despair creep in (Please know, that these seven things may nearly impossible to do if hopelessness has had a grip on you for some time.).

At the early signs of hopelessness/depressive thinking or feeling:

  1. Let your doctor and therapist know at the first signs of it. Don’t wait!
  1. Let key family and or trusted friends know. Don’t wait.
  1. If you have a WRAP plan or another type of wellness plan, start to work it.
  1. Not talking about your feelings of hopelessness will cause you to bottle it up inside you and it will begin to have even more “power” over your thoughts and feelings. You need to talk about it.  Get it out into the open.  Talking will release some of the very real pain of hopelessness.
  1. Work hard at not isolating. Isolating empowers hopelessness. Continued isolation will affect your brain’s ability to problem-solve and thinking differently.  (There’s actual research out there on this: isolation brings can cause an inflexibility to the brain to problem solve.) Call or text friends; don’t go to them, have them come to you.  Send out an SOS to whomever even if that is all you can do.
  1. If you have a peer specialist that is working with you be sure to let him or her know. If you do not have one, find out where in your community you might receive the services of one.  Having a peer support specialist is particularly important to do if you lack a support system through friends and family.
  1. Spend time reading Scripture or inspiring literature and listening to things that inspire you and fill you with hope.

If you’re not struggling with hopelessness currently, then I would strongly encourage you to develop either a WRAP plan or a wellness plan for living well.  After all, you and I both know that having a mental health diagnosis, hopelessness (a depressive state) is too often lurking around like a sick predator of our living well in spite of having bipolar.

And yes, no matter how hard we might fight against hopelessness sometimes our brain chemistry fights against us.  And that’s why medicine is imperative in our daily battle to live well in spite of a mental illness.  If you have a mental illness, your brain like mine, malfunctions.  So, I do everything within my power to keep my brain chemistry as “straight” as possible. Not only do I take my medicine, but I also choose to have hope, which helps my brain chemistry.  I don’t dare allow my thinking to go “south” for even the least bit of time.  So, I count on my medicine working, and I do my part regarding how I think.

How about you? What do you do to fight off hopelessness?  If you’re feeling hopeless what are you doing about it? What keeps you going even when you feel like quitting? What preventative steps do you take to ward off depressive thinking?

Cracked & Beautiful by Lindsay Hausch

Cracked & Beautiful by Lindsay Hausch

As I wiped the tears, and snot, and blood from her dirty face I felt the heavy weight of dread in the pitt of my stomach. Her once perfect smile was broken, the front baby tooth jagged where it was once a pristine little square.

Smelling of lavender and wrapped sweetly in her pink princess nightgown, every sign of my daughter’s fall earlier that day was wiped clean, except for her crooked smile. And while I was grateful that she was unharmed, the crack remained, reminding me of how helpless I really am.

Because even if I stand at the bottom of the slide, waiting to catch her, my little girl can still crash, and bleed, and cry out in pain, and there is nothing I can do about it, except hold her and comfort her, and say “I’m sorry.”

Her cracked smile reminds me of my helplessness. It reminds me of how helpless I am in protecting my baby in this big scary world; it reminds me of how little control I have over my own little world, and it reminds me that no matter how much I fight to keep things pristine, and perfect, and straight, they can become cracked, and crooked, and broken.

I try to control my life, to keep it neat and tidy like a pretty photo, but it doesn’t fit in the neat little frame that I try to package it in. Despite my efforts to make everything just so, reality shatters my plans, leaving a web of cracks on the high polished surface of my life.

But then I look at her intent blue eyes and bobbing blonde head in the rearview mirror,  her wide, crack toothed smile like a ray of sunshine, and she says to me “Mommy, I have a new, bigger smile.”

I peer at that smile that is no longer the picture of perfection. And I take a deep breath as the warm sun floods our car and I let a laugh explode from my mouth. I laugh with God, because he is full of so many surprises. I laugh because I am so helpless, and cracked, and yet through HIM I am hopeful and whole. I laugh at my daughter’s fearlessness, her innocence, and her new, bigger, beautiful smile.

I look at the crack in the windshield, that I’ve been meaning to fix, and I smile as I see beams of light refract from it.

Teens and Mental Health an Interview with Dr. Brian Lubberstedt

Teens and Mental Health an Interview with Dr. Brian Lubberstedt

Are you parenting an adolescent or soon to be one?  Then you are going to want to be sure and listen to this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health.

In this edition, Pastor Brad Hoefs interviews Dr. Brian Lubberstedt who is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist. They discuss how mental health issues manifest in a teens life.

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email us at with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.

If you are listening to this podcast on iTunes, we encourage you to leave a comment regarding the podcast. Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site:

To listen to the podcast click on the icon/logo just below this sentence and it will take you to the podcast player page:

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Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at:

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to or email or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope go to:

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at

 Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries.

 Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry. 

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All of the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

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7 Keys to Successful Mental Health Recovery

7 Keys to Successful Mental Health Recovery

When others find out that I have experienced no symptoms of mental illness for the past 14 years, they usually want to know what I have done and do in my journey to have 14 years of sustained recovery.

My standard answer to them is:

  • 1. I take my medicine as directed. If I have needed a tweak or change here or there I have talked with my psychiatrist.  And if something is not quite right, I do not hesitate to call his office immediately.
  • 2. I have become extremely “self-aware.”  I pay very close attention to what is going on with both my thinking and any perceivable changes with mood.  This has resulted in changing some of my “stinkin’ thinkin’” and learning to pace myself, especially when I’m stressed.
  • 3. I choose to believe I can live a rich and fulfilling life in spite of having a mental health diagnosis.  Yes, it’s a choice.  And yes, it’s possible to make that choice.
  • 4. I have a circle of accountability in my life.  I signed a waiver for the doctor to be able to speak to my spouse and three very trusted friends who have my best interests in mind.  For the last 12 years I meet with them twice a month.  They can all talk with my doctor if my behavior and thinking would seem to be “off”.  To my knowledge, none of them have ever talked with my doctor.
  • 5. I decided it was time to get up and choose to live again; pushing myself to do things I didn’t necessarily feel like doing (unlike my first seven years prior to the last 12 in which I simply was trying to cope with life).
  • 6. I choose to believe by my faith that the Lord can work all things out together for my good (Romans 8:28).
  • 7. I have a great support system of family and friends who have been instrumental in my recovery.

While there is never “one-size-fits-all” approach to recovery, these seven have been key for me.

What about for you?  What has contributed to your success in recovery?  

Ruminating No More! By Brad Hoefs

Ruminating No More! By Brad Hoefs

Do you ever ruminate? You know, get stuck thinking (usually something negative) over and over?

One of my greatest challenges in my recovery has been to stop ruminating.
Here are three tools that I’ve found helpful in overcoming my ruminating:

1. Choosing with my will to control my thinking.
Instead of allowing my mind to simply be on automatic pilot I have to choose to be in control of what I’m thinking about and how often I’m thinking about it. Even if what I’ve been ruminating about is a “worry” that is true; I at least have to choose to simply stop letting it play over and over in my mind.

As a Christian I was reminded that the Apostle Paul in the Bible says that we are to “take captive” our thinking. He also says that we should focus on what is right and true. In other words, control your thinking. And replace the negative with what is true and helpful.

2. When ruminating I learned that it’s important to actually tell myself, out- loud, to “stop”.
I read somewhere that if your brain here’s your voice it actually disrupts the brainwave pattern and interrupts the repetitive thinking. (It certainly works for me.) It’s similar to someone interrupting you when you are really focused on something and then it is difficult to get your focus back.

3. Hang out with people with positive outlooks on life as much as possible.
It is said that we become like the five people we hang around the most. So, as much as possible I nurture relationships with people who have a positive look on life.

You certainly don’t need to have bipolar disorder to have difficulties with ruminating. It is common to the human condition.

What do tools do you use to overcome your ruminating?

Ruminating No More!

Ruminating No More!

Do you ever ruminate? You know, get stuck thinking (usually something negative) over and over? One of my greatest challenges in my recovery has been to stop ruminating.

Here are three tools that I’ve found helpful in overcoming my ruminating:

  1. Choosing with my will to control my thinking

Instead of allowing my mind to simply be on automatic pilot I have to choose to be in control of what I’m thinking about and how often I’m thinking about it. Even if what I’ve been ruminating about is a “worry” that is true; I at least have to choose to simply stop letting it play over and over in my mind.

As a Christian, I was reminded that the Apostle Paul in the Bible says that we are to “take captive” our thinking. He also says that we should focus on what is right and true. In other words, control your thinking. And replace the negative with what is true and helpful.

  1. When ruminating, I learned that it’s important to actually tell myself, out loud, to “stop”

I read somewhere that if your brain hears your voice, it actually disrupts the brainwave pattern and interrupts the repetitive thinking. (It certainly works for me.) It’s similar to someone interrupting you when you are really focused on something and then it is difficult to get your focus back.

  1. Hang out with people with positive outlooks on life as much as possible

It is said that we become like the five people we hang around the most. So, as much as possible, I nurture relationships with people who have a positive outlook on life.

  1. Physical activity

Typically, I tend to ruminate when I’m lying in bed or sitting still in a chair. I have found that if I will make myself get up and move, go for a walk or some other physical activity, I enjoy, the act of moving my muscles interrupts the cycle of ruminating. It’s difficult to do a brisk physical activity and ruminate at the same time. While you’re exercising, put on some music or an audiobook. That will also distract you from your ruminating thoughts.

  1. Get involved in a hobby

I will do something that I enjoy that requires my mental concentration. Whether it’s reading a good book, playing a musical instrument or baking a cake, activities that require you to concentrate on them will break the cycle of rumination.

You certainly don’t need to have a mental health diagnosis to have difficulties with ruminating. It is common to the human condition.

What do tools do you use to overcome your ruminating?

Why? When? Where? by Julie Thomas

Why? When? Where? by Julie Thomas

How did you wake up this morning? Feeling sad? Or empty? Or weak?

If you struggle with depression, you probably woke up feeling sad, or empty or weak. Or possibly all of those! Do you wake up in fear?

For over 5 years of my life, I lived in fear and despair. Woke up in fear. Went to bed dreading the dawn of day. How much sadness and fear can one live with? You would probably concur with me when I say…many! Many days passed where fear was my escort. Every day, I woke up with a knot in my stomach.

Could you imagine every minute of your life in the anticipation that something dreadful is about to happen. How could one live with constantly watching for the arrival of a dreadful event? This was another one of the reflexes of a depression.

Several times I thought to myself, “I cannot help feeling this way.” And, this feeling is and was real! I did not lock myself up in a thinking lab and conjure up a chemical prescription to adopt fear. I tried, time and time again to convince myself of the contrary…”I don’t have to be sad. I don’t have to be afraid.” Sadly, I failed, time and time again.

I saw no reprieve for today and no hope for tomorrow. That is a hard place to be. Depression can do that to you. Bring you to the point of utter hopelessness. I prayed every day for this feeling to pass. Sometimes, I was too afraid to hope. What if I didn’t get my answers tomorrow? What if the sadness continues and there is no end to this depressed state of mind?

I know these are a lot of questions. But, when we struggle with depression, we wake up to questions every day. Questions that question our healing, that question our hope. And most important, of all the questions we ask ourselves, ‘Why?’

Doctors sometimes can’t answer our ‘why.’ Family and friends can’t seem to answer our ‘why.’ We may ‘never’ find the answers to our ‘why.’ And every single minute we spend pursuing the answer to the ‘why’ is a minute unredeemable. One thing I’ve gathered over the lifespan of my depression battle is we don’t need, the answers to our ‘why.’ We don’t need to know ‘when’ – When, our answers will come. What we can do, is redeem our today.

But, when things seem hopeless? How can we? There may be many alternate ways toward this. But, the answers to all our “why’s” and “when’s” can be found in one place and that is the word of God. I know that I know, that the reason I exist today is the redeeming power of the Word. The numbing effects of a depressed mind, took it’s toll on my body making me too weak to even speak somedays. On those days, with weak trembling hands, I would write, write scripture down.  Here’s what Habbakuk says,

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty.”  Habakkuk 3:17 NLT

Does your life seem like it’s failing and empty? The prophet posed many questions to God too. The book is essentially a question-answer dialogue between Habbakuk and God. At the end of all his questioning, Habbakuk comes to one conclusion. He realized ‘where’ his answer could be found. Everything before him was empty and hopeless, but he says “yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Now if you are like me, this may seem like what I call a “cliche” verse to you. You’ll probably think that this verse has been done over and over. It has plateaued. Right? I was told many times to speak scripture over my struggle. And, that would upset me even more. I thought people made this suggestion only to sound more spiritual themselves.

Here’s something I’ve learned. It is not in the struggling to struggle with the Word that we find hope. It is in knowing that your struggle is safe in the hands of the one who is capable of dangling the entire universe at the tip of His finger, like a Christmas ornament. It is not in struggling against the feebleness of your power. It is in placing your struggle on the invincible power of your God.

He will make you as “sure footed as a deer.” Give you feet that will enable you to tread the heights. The heights of suffering. The heights of sadness. The heights of depression. As painful as it is, I encourage you. Climb that height.

Don’t let fear stupefy you or keep you paralyzed in your misery. God is your “personal bravery” and He will enable you to stand on the heights of depression. You will stand on top of it, not be overcome by it. You will plant your stake in the ground, on those heights, and wave your victory flag. Declare your deliverance atop those heights. So that others that are staring up the presumably unconquerable heights of depression, will know – someone made it up there. So can I!

I hope and pray that every one of your ‘Whys’, ‘Whens’, ‘Wheres’ and ‘Whats’ find their answers in the Word.

Seven Tools for Overcoming Impulse Control Issues

Seven Tools for Overcoming Impulse Control Issues

While I have had no major mood swings or episodes in the last 14 years, I have and continue to have to self-monitor my impulse control. While I don’t struggle with the extreme impulses as I did prior to diagnosis, today the struggle is more like someone with ADD trying to stay on task without getting sidetracked by other “shiny” and seemingly more interesting things.

There’s a connection between having bipolar disorder and controlling one’s impulses. Click here to view research regarding this connection.

The lack of impulse control may not only be an indicator of bipolar disorder, but explains a number of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Eric Johnson, a licensed mental health provider, writes:  “Bipolar mania, and the less intense hypomania, is associated with increased risk-taking behaviors like drug use, promiscuous sex, over-spending money, and other poor decisions. To compound the problem, mania brings increased energy, increased distractibility, less need for sleep, and elevated moods, which make the risky behaviors happen with increased frequency.

“The risk-taking behaviors generally fall into a larger category of impulsivity. Like a child with ADHD, impulsivity is a failure to consider consequences of a behavior before you act. Unlike a child with ADHD, impulsivity fueled by bipolar disorder is more dangerous. The potential outcomes include jail, serious debt, sexually transmitted diseases, physical injury and even death.”

In preparing for this post, I ran across a video of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta explaining bipolar disorder. In a very simple way Dr. Gupta explains why so many of us who have bipolar disorder (especially those of us with bipolar disorder 1) struggle with impulse control. Click here to watch the video.

Plus, there might be some who not only have bipolar disorder and the difficulties that come with control one’s impulses, but they also might have an impulse disorder (a type of co-occurring diagnosis).

Several Decembers ago  I really struggled for a period of about three weeks with staying on task with the important things I needed to be about doing with my work. Instead of staying on task, I seemingly could not control the impulse to find a certain kind of gobo light that would be just “perfect” for projecting an angel on the roof of the church that I pastor. After hours and hours of looking for many days I could find nothing. And even then, I had a hard time stopping the search. I had to work extremely hard to keep myself from continuing to search. (If you ask my staff, they’d probably tell you I wasn’t all that successful!)

Now, granted, this struggle with my impulse control last December was nothing like I used to experience prior to being diagnosed. Pre-diagnosis, I had all of the classical descriptions of those with bipolar I disorder as Eric Johnson described above. Prior to treatment, I struggled with anger, raging, and compulsive spending, as well as risky behaviors. I knew that something was very wrong. It was as though I was trying to control a monster that was pressing from within. Now I have come to understand that a lot of this had to do with the impulse center of my brain that was not functioning correctly. I always thought that I just had a “quick temper”.

For example, if something irritated me or made me mad, I could not hold my tongue. The words that could not be taken back would begin to fly. Many of my relationships would be strained and or ruined due to this. Others “wrote it off” due to me having a creative temperament. Little did everyone know that it was bipolar irritability accompanied by the lack of impulse control. During those times of mania, behaviors that were strange and unexplainable would exhibit themselves; many of which I would not even recall when not in mania.

After initially being diagnosed and discovering the issues with impulse control, I found these seven“tools”(choices to be made) for overcoming the impulse control issues:

  1. I chose to practice more self-discipline – as opposed to doing things only when I felt like doing them or when I had the impulse to do them. Even though I still struggle with procrastination, I find the more I discipline myself to complete the tasks on my “to do” list daily, I do better emotionally and physically, and I sleep better.
  2. I had to choose to be mindful at all times about what was happening around me, what I was feeling, and also identify the important things to be doing on my “to do” list.
  3. I also began to know my triggers. When triggered I would easily become more impulsive. So it was important for me to pay attention to those things that would trigger me so I could stop the flood of emotions that most likely would burst forth.
  4. I chose to take control of my tongue. Instead of lashing out with my words when angry, I found that it was easier to wait to express myself after the flood of emotions had passed. Truth is, our words easily hurt others. It’s impossible to take your words back.
  5. I chose to be accountable to others in-regards to my impulse control; especially when they were seeing behaviors that would indicate that I was having difficulties controlling them.
  6. I chose to never use bipolar disorder as an excuse. Yes, there were times and still are when bipolar disorder is the reason for some of my thinking or behaviors or even mood. However, I refuse to ever use that as an excuse.
  7. I chose to believe that I could do the first six things as opposed to saying, “Gosh, I’m bipolar, that’s just the way I am. Like it or leave it.”

Today, with medicine and self-discipline, for the most part the issue of impulse control is under control. How about you? Did you or do you still experience the connection between your bipolar disorder and impulse control? If so, what are you doing about it?

Check out our weekly podcast: “Fresh Hope for Mental Health”

Hold On! Spring is Coming

Hold On! Spring is Coming

This time of year–the transition from winter to spring–is one of the toughest times of the year for me. Looking back over my work history, I’ve quit almost every job in the month of March. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’m thinking it was more likely that I’d reached an emotional breaking point where I wanted to scream “I can’t take it anymore!” Each time I recall feeling distressed and panicky, desperate for relief. Now that I know more about my diagnosis I understand that work stress and seasonal transitions cause me to become unstable.

I find the transition from fall to winter challenging as well, but there are a few unique things about this time of year that seem to create instability in myself and others. In the fall, although the days grow shorter and it gets dark earlier, in general it’s mostly sunny, there’s little rain, the leaves are beautiful and the grass is still green. This will vary, of course, depending on where you live.

In early spring, it’s still damp and cold, often windy, with a lot of gray and rainy days. Everywhere you look, nature offers up brown vegetation and bare branches. Not very inspiring or uplifting. I’ve found that I actually do better in the winter months because it’s brighter outside. The sun reflects off the snow and I can’t see the dead grass hiding underneath. Gray days usually zap both my motivation and mood, leading to a slow slide into depressive symptoms.

As part of learning to live well with bipolar ll, I’d like to share a few things I do to stay emotionally in balance this time of year. I encourage you to try one or two of these ideas or come up with your own list based on what you find enjoyable. These are also good ideas to try when, despite our best efforts, we begin to feel unstable.

* expose yourself to sunlight as often as you can. Sit near a sunny window or take a short walk. On cold days I’ve sat in a lawn chair on the sunny side of my house, out of the wind’s reach. You’d be surprised how warm it feels.

* if you’re financially able, take a trip somewhere warm and sunny. It will provide an emotional lift and will give you hope that sunshine and warmer weather are just around the corner back home.

* supplement your diet with Vit D3 which is normally produced in the body by exposure to sunlight. Studies have shown that it improves symptoms of depression

[however, do not take new meds or vitamins without speaking to your doctor first].
* go to an indoor botanical garden or greenhouse to see brightly colored plants and flowers.

* visit your local garden center to see colorful annual and perennial plants ready to be purchased for spring planting. If you are a plant person, this might be the creative inspiration you need to create a layout for your garden areas.

* if you enjoy indoor plants, buy a new one that has leaves with unusual shapes or colors to brighten your home.

* eat or cook foods that you normally associate with spring or early summer. These might include strawberries, blueberries, ice cream cones; making homemade ice cream; grilling out on a warmer day; and eating lighter foods such as salads. Try moving away from heavier foods such as soups, stews, casseroles, and meat and potatoes. Lighter eating can also help with weight loss and improvements in energy levels.

I encourage you to make a list of some things you can do over the next six-to-eight weeks to make your transition from winter to spring a smooth one this year. Identify what has been a trigger for you in the past: Feeling stuck indoors? The weather? Everything looking blah outdoors? Feeling hopeless? When you’re able to put a finger on what triggers you, then you’re in a position to take positive action to avoid or at least minimize the effect those triggers have on you.

Right now you may feel that winter is never going to end, but hold on! Spring will indeed be here in a couple of months. And by the time it arrives, you’ll want to feel well enough to enjoy it!

Blog Post by Jamie Meyer

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