Sunday, December 17, 2006

Organize to Beat the Winter Blues - Andrew Leatherland

If you’re a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sufferer or you just feel down each winter it’s all too easy to think that nothing can be done about it. Even if you’re close to a sufferer you’re affected. You hope that by hunkering down for the winter you’ll ride it out because it’s an inevitable problem that you can’t avoid. It’s true to some extent that you can’t avoid it because you’re fighting your own biology to do so. However, the degree to which you suffer it is not inevitable. You can have your best winter yet.

The success guru Jack Canfield wrote “If you keep doing what you always did, you’ll get what you always got”. This rings true for SAD & Winter Blues sufferers. By doing what you always do in winter it’s highly likely you will experience the same rough ride that you have for previous winters. By changing your approach to winter, you and those around could be a lot brighter and a lot more energetic than previously.

The first thing you have to do is decide to change your approach. Like smoking, drinking or gambling breaking a cycle needs people to make a conscious decision to change. Where your mind goes the rest of you will follow.

The second thing you need to do is change your approach to everyday life. So much of what we do in life is habit. We tend to just do what we’ve always done. We drive the same way to work, eat the same food and so on. With this condition, not changing your habits to fight it will put you at its mercy. One simple exercise you can do to see the power habit has over your life is to sit down for twenty minutes with a piece of paper. Over the twenty minutes write down everything you do day by day. Look back and you’ll probably see patterns emerging – put children to be, eat dinner, sit down, watch TV etc. Now don’t throw this list away because you’re going to need it.

You don’t need wholesale change. Changing on a massive scale is difficult to achieve and is likely to result in failure. That’s like New Year Resolutions to lose weight through crash dieting, or deciding to get fit by running a marathon. They are such massive changes to the system that you cannot keep them up. What you need is to identify a series.

So how do you make that change? Well you plan and you organise. If done right your life won’t look radically different day to day. You can build some small but powerful changes into your everyday routine. But you must plan and you must follow through on the plan. Also improve your chances of success by working the plan into your everyday routine.

Plan where to put your light therapy and plan your medication in consultant with your Doctor if you’re a SAD sufferer. Plan to use your lunchtime at work to talk a short walk in the daylight. Plan your meals so they include nutrients that help maintain greater energy levels when you need it. Also plan your food so it includes the kind of ingredients that help lift your mood.

What should be important in the planning process is that there are a series of actions each day that are slightly different from normal but that have an emphasis on fighting the symptoms of these conditions. More importantly they should be things that you can slot into your everyday routine without upheaval to you or your family.

Plan to beat it and action that plan. You can be so much better for it. With the small steps highlighted here and by starting right now next March you should be able to look back and reflect on a much improved winter

Andrew Leatherland runs the resource website for SAD and Winter Blues sufferers and their families. The site has just opened a forum where everyone can come to discuss the condition and their experiences as well as seek support.

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