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Winter’s Here: 7 Tips to Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter’s Here: 7 Tips to Overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder

January and February are the darkest, coldest, and most depressing months of the year in many climates. If you find yourself feeling sad, depressed, and disinterested in your normal activities during this time of year, it’s not your imagination. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of mood disorder that’s associated with changing seasons and lack of sunshine.[1] It’s estimated that about 4-6% of the U.S. population struggle with SAD, and 20% may suffer mild symptoms.[2] If you’re noticing that your mood drops significantly in the fall and winter, you may want to try these seven tips to help you overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Make a plan

The best time to make a plan for dealing with SAD is before the symptoms even start of course, but that’s not always possible. Even when you’re feeling your worst, it’s important to make a routine you can stick to. Try to schedule in time to exercise, activities that get you out of the house (like game nights or dinner with friends), and even your meals. Plan some time for activities you love—and keep doing them, even when you don’t feel like it. Keeping busy and maintaining healthy habits are difficult when SAD hits you hard, but they can keep the disorder from taking over your life. So, plan ahead for the times when you don’t feel like getting out of bed.

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Try light therapy

SAD is heavily associated with low levels of sunlight, and light therapy has proven to be an effective antidote during the winter months. Light therapy boxes over 10,000 lux can be effective for treating SAD, and you don’t need a prescription to buy one.[3] Just make sure to use a model that does not transmit UV rays, and don’t use it right before you go to bed—you still need plenty of sleep!

Consider natural remedies

Vitamin D is something your body generates when you’re exposed to sunlight. In the winter, when sun is scarce, it can be helpful to take this vitamin as a supplement.

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Massage can be a soothing and relaxing activity that can boost your mood when you’re in the throes of SAD. It has been shown to raise serotonin levels, and improve your overall mood.[4] If a professional massage is too expensive, give yourself a rub down or have a partner help you. Massage schools can also be a great place to turn for inexpensive, soothing sessions.

Talk to someone

As with any mental health struggle, it can be extremely helpful to discuss your SAD symptoms with a therapist.[5] He or she can even prescribe medication for you if it’s appropriate (though this is usually a last resort for SAD therapy).

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Even just talking to a trusted friend or family member can make the situation feel less dark and hopeless. Most people have trouble asking for help, but talking through what you’re experiencing can help you get by during the winter months.

Explore your spirituality

If you’re a spiritual person, consider exploring that part of your identity. Though it doesn’t work for everyone, some people find comfort in their spirituality, using it to guide them through the dark and cold months of the year.[6] Not spiritual? Try meditation to help you relax and center yourself.

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Get moving

Tired of hearing about how exercise is the key to health and mental well-being? Well, it may not be the only key, but it does play a big role in your mood and overall outlook on life. It boosts chemicals in the brain that make you feel good, like dopamine and serotonin. You don’t have to exercise outside, but it can boost the overall benefit of exercise for dealing with SAD. You’ll get benefits from what little sunlight there is outside, plus the perks of moving your body. You’ve got more than enough proof that exercise can work wonders, even on SAD, that you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t get moving.

Actually move!

This may not be the most practical solution, and it may not be what you want to hear, but if you’re constantly struggling with SAD, year after year, then you may be living in the wrong climate. Some people enjoy the colder, darker weather, but if you’re someone who feels better in the sunshine, consider relocating. Moving may be a radical last resort, but if you’ve tried everything and you’re still debilitated by winter blues—it may be just what you need.

Reference

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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