This time of year can be really draining, especially with this crazy cold winter we’ve been experiencing! We’re longing for warmth, we’re too cooped up, we need more sunlight, we’re overtired, and it seems like everyone is sick.

But don’t get too down now—spring is on the way! Longer days and sunny skies are just around the corner. So let’s take a minute to talk about stress and how to deal with it. We like to say “You Are Your Brand”—so if you’re stressed and it shows, you could be negatively affecting your brand and your business.

Stress is No Joke

The top 3 causes of stress in the United States are: 1.) Job Pressure (Co-Worker Tension, Bosses, Work Overload), 2.) Money (Loss of Job, Reduced Retirement, Medical Expenses), and 3.) Health (Health Crisis, Terminal or Chronic Illness). While most people experience these types of stressors on a regular basis, I’m betting that all you entrepreneurs and business owners out there are nodding in agreement. Yes, it sounds familiar—I know.

You run a tight and tough ship every day—and, hey, sometimes the stress gets to all of us. Just because you’re running the show doesn’t mean getting stressed out from time to time is a sign of weakness. Stress is serious! Too much stress can negatively affect how you perform at your job and how you interact with your friends and family. When your working and personal relationships suffer, your brand also suffers.

It’s time to look beyond these winter blues and start developing some great habits to boost your positivity and productivity, even if that groundhog’s shadow keeps standing in the way of spring.

1. Get Your Blood Flowing

77% of people say they regularly experience physical symptoms brought on by stress. A great way to reduce physical stress is to start working out. The jury is still out on exactly how much exercise you need to stay fit, but any amount is clearly better than nothing. Just 20-minutes of exercise a day can pump up your endorphins all day long.

Quick Tricks:

2. Mood Foods

Be sure you’re eating healthy food and regular meals this winter. Don’t skip meals just because you’re busy. The drop in blood sugar will aggravate your stress. Don’t skimp on the comfort food if it makes you feel good, but watch your portions. Winter is definitely the time of year those pounds can start to sneak on.

Quick Tricks:

  • Take your vitamins. Omega 3s (found in fish and flaxseed) boost your memory and your mood. Try foods high in B vitamins to combat depression and fatigue. Daily vitamin D supplements help make up for the lack of sunshine.
  • Keep a food journal and track your mood. Certain people are sensitive to specific foods. Tracking your food helps you keep your weight in check, and will also help you notice patterns in your mood + food regimen. If too much sugar in your breakfast is making you crash before lunch, try oatmeal or whole grain cereal to stay full and happy.
  • Watch the caffeine. Too much coffee can make you jittery and amplify stress. Try low-calorie, low-caff beverages, like herbal tea or flavored water to keep your nerves in check throughout the day.

3. Be Mindful

Take regular breaks throughout the day to give your brain time to reset. Schedule relaxation time with a book or dive into meditation or yoga. Try picking up an instrument. Remember: good for the mind is good for the body, too! Snuggle with your pets or spend quality quiet time with your kids in the evening and you’ll start out the next morning energized and ready to go.

Quick Tricks:

  • Try a light box. Full-spectrum light mimics sunlight and can be very effective for combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the plain ol’ winter blues, too.
  • Call a friend. Having a particularly rough day? In today’s world of texting and emails, it’s rejuvenating to have a great phone conversation (even if it’s a quickie).
  • See a professional. If you’re really having a hard time this winter, you could have a more serious mental or physical health condition. If you’ve tried all of the above and you just can’t shake negative feelings or physical symptoms, it’s time to see your doctor.

Everything you do can affect your brand, because You Are Your Brand. The trick is to spend time thinking happy thoughts, even when it’s hard. When you’re purposefully positive, your winter blues don’t stand a chance!  When your target market, your customers, your business partners, your supplies and your team see you bright, shiny and happy this winter, you’ll boost their mood and boost their confidence in your business and your brand!