I just got off the phone with a woman who is starting her fitness journey at one of our PFP locations this week.
ME: "What made you want to start now?"
HER: "I want to get ahead of the winter depression now. I don't want to gain weight and feel awful this winter like every other winter."
The past 2 years we have shared these 5 tips to overcome seasonal depression. We received more positive feedback from that one message than just about any previous article. We wanted to take it up a notch.
Seasonal depression has become “real” to us because of our thoughts and actions in response to it, not because of the weather itself.
If the weather does have complete power over my thoughts, emotions, and actions, I am doomed for failure in life.
Here are 5 Keys to Overcoming Winter "Depression" this year, and every year. They are guaranteed to work, so please pass them on.
1. Choose your words wisely.
Words Transform Our Experience. Refrain from using a huge, emotionally charged word like “depression” to describe the effects of the outside temperature.
Could it be possible that the word you’ve been using to describe your emotions during winter actually has been negatively enhancing that feeling?
Let’s start by calling it what it really is.
This is really about “making choices that lead me to feeling a little down.”
“Feeling a little down” versus “depressed” produces radically different emotions, doesn't it?
2. Prime Your Heart and Mind Everyday, First Thing
More than a decade ago I began a practice of writing down 3 gratitudes everyday, followed by reading for 10-30 minutes, and then prayer. It’s a 30 minute deposit into my mental, emotional, and spiritual health account that PRIMES me for the day.
Sometimes I take this practice to another level with something we call “Extreme Gratitudes”.
Rather than just thinking about something I am thankful for and writing it down, I now spend roughly 45 seconds feeling that beautiful memory.
One example of an EXTREME gratitude:
When Jack was 1 year old I took him to the park and put him in the swing. As he was swinging, I jumped up, grabbed the poll, and hung on it briefly. He started cracking up with a laugh that brought the biggest smile on my face. I proceeded to jump up and grab the poll a dozen more times, each time eliciting a HUGE ball of laughter from my son. We both laughed for quite some time. It was a memory I will never forget.
Every morning, especially over winter, close your eyes and spend 2 minutes going back to a memory that:
- Brought you so much joy
- Made you laugh hysterically
- Made you feel so loved
- Made you feel so proud of yourself and accomplished
- Brought you huge feelings of happiness, peace, etc.
In addition to this, feed your mind with positive material. 10 minutes of reading, listening to an audiobook, etc. Your mind lives on what it is fed, feed it well! This is a key to overcoming seasonal mood swings.
3. GENERATE, don't wait! Ignite Your Physiology
- Take deep, full breaths regularly throughout the day. Oxygen to your blood cells increases energy.
- Move Your Body for 30 Minutes a Day. No movement, no energy. No energy, no joy. No joy, you are done for during the winter (on the east coast at least). You can sign up and workout at PFP as another option.
- 50/10 rule. Do not sit for more than 50 minutes at a time without getting up for a 10 minute stretch, walk, etc. At worst, 80/10.
4. Eat Like Energized People Eat, Do Not Eat and Drink Like Depressed People.
No one really talks about this when it comes to “seasonal depression”. During the winter, most people eat the foods and drink the drinks that are proven to increase anxiety, stress your internal systems, and decrease your energy levels.
No wonder we feel worse over winter!
The fix would be:
- Less sugar
- Less caffeine
- Less alcohol
- More wholesome foods
- Normal portions
- Drink significantly more water
Eat like joyful, energized people eat and watch how you feel!
5. Give More Than You’ve Ever Given This Winter Season. The secret to living is giving. Whether or not you think the Bible is true, the following versus are 100% agreed upon by all people, religious or not:
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24.
Poverty is not just lacking money, it is also lacking joy, vibrancy in relationships, energy, and positivity!
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Give extra hugs
Give extra smiles
Give your attention to others
Give an extra phone call to let a person know you are thinking about them
Give the gift of letting someone cut in front of you in line (I know, we are getting carried away)
Wouldn't you like to be completely refreshed this winter? Re-energized? More alive than you were over summer?
Do you now recognize that you are in complete control of your mood during winter, summer, spring, and fall?
You can CHOOSE to ignite energy, motivation, and joy this winter, or you can choose to do what you do every winter. Same mind, same actions, same results!
All you need to do is take action on 1 or more of those 5 things above and you will experience a very, very different upcoming season!
Dedicated to your joy and success,
Andrew and the PFP Team