3 Strategies for Leveling-Up, When the Winter Blues Is Holding You Down.
The past two years have been utterly exhausting for many millions of professional women. A tsunami of Breaking News, increase in racial tensions, heightened exposure to Corporate America’s glaring pay inequities and appalling sexual harassment problem, has contributed to a dramatic uptick in many of us experiencing an unusual amount of anxiety and despair.
But for other women, that is just the beginning, because the past few winter months, have been the catalyst for ushering in something even more distressing, winter depression.Also known as SAD, Situational Affective Disorder.
According to WebMD, 30% of the US population, or 9 million people are impacted by this diagnosis and find themselves battling this mood disorder. And if you are one of them, you know just how difficult even the simplest of tasks can be — such as “feeling like yourself.”
This can pose an enormous problem for all of those women who are acutely aware of how much they have to do, and how much ground they are losing if they don’t “turn things around.” The never ending “things to do list,” client projects, meetings, proposals and business travel during the day and the laundry, children’s homework, evening activities and trying to get dinner prepared in time can leave you absolutely paralyzed! Wanting only one thing- to climb in the bed, grab the remote, and binge watch the latest Netflix show.
Believe when I say I know. Many years ago, I was watching an episode of The View, when Rosie O’Donnell was a co-host. During the show, she mentioned that every year she experienced seasonal depression. It stopped me dead in my tracks because even though I had never heard of the “official diagnosis,” I instantly recognized that I was currently experiencing it.
In my case, I noticed that things that were normally effortless for me for like writing suddenly became monumental. I was lethargic. “Low-energy, Jen.” I didn’t want to do anything that required me too much. But most of all, I just felt like I was driving in neutral and no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t kick things in gear.
I also noticed that experiencing SAD wasn’t an automatic outcome for me each winter. Some years, I have it, like this year…last year, I did not. However, the one common theme throughout is this, I am an absolutely different person when it comes to Spring.
Here’s the problem with SAD, outside of the obvious, it can fundamentally derail your potential if you aren’t able to get a handle on it. While your colleague, competitors, and clients are using the last few months of the year as their planning season and the first few months of the year as their launching and implementation season, you’re stuck in a holding pattern.
As someone who runs has run an agency for the past 11 years dedicated solely to elevating the visibility, credibility, and profitability of professional women, I can’t afford (both literally and figuratively) to be sidelined for an entire season as I catch up on Game of Thrones. So, this past season I set the intention to develop a plan of action for minimizing the effects of Winter Blues.
If you are currently “trying to hold it all together,” and simply don’t know what to do, here are three strategies that I believe might help.
Cut Out Sugar:
I know, I know…WTF. I get it. Believe me when I say I “get it.” For more than half of my life, my slogan has been “dessert first.” In fact, most of my life I have been such a fein for sugar that when I was listening to a recent interview with Jada Pinkett Smith (major girl crush on her) and her mother Adrienne mentioned that The Smith’s don’t have sugar anywhere on the premise, my first thought wasn’t “wow, that’s incredible…no wonder they are so healthy.” Nope. Not me! My first thought was, “well, I have no desire to visit their home.” Told you, I had issues!
Nonetheless, in Mid-January when Jennifer Lopez and A. Rod challenged people to join them on the 10 days no sugar, no carb detox, I did. Just like that, I eliminated the one thing I have never wanted to willingly give up. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard at all. Not. At. All. No headaches, flu-like symptoms or regret. About five days into the detox, I said, “you know, I’m going to get up a little early tomorrow and take the dogs for a walk,” before the kids get up for school. The next day, I said, you know…it makes no sense to have this Apple Watch is I’m not going to use it to log 10k steps a day. So I started that again. And every day, the cloud of paralysis began to melt away as clarity, energy and excitement of what was possible became pronounced. Sugar did that.
There is nothing I am saying that you don’t already know. But the fact remains that exercise can help counteract depression, whether it is seasonal or more serious. The problem is that exercise is the last thing you want to do when you are SAD. Seriously. I get it. I have an exercise room and if I’m being completely honest, I had not stepped foot in there in over a year. My oldest daughter would come home from college, pump on the speakers and hit the treadmill and do 5 miles every day. Not me. I simply could not bring myself to. But, once I released the sugar, something internally clicked. Even though I am an outdoors person and always prefer to log miles outdoors, suddenly I found myself doing mini-challenges. 100 Jump ropes and 10k steps. That’s it. 200 jump ropes, and crunches and weights. However, if you are in the midst of dealing with the Winter Blues, I know there is nothing that I am saying that sounds in the least bit appealing. Or maybe even “doable.” So listen to it from another perspective. When it comes to exercise, there is a “tipping point,” and it varies for every single person. A number of days, or sessions that you have to grudgingly push yourself to get through in order to get to the other side when suddenly, you are being “pulled.” It could be for one week. Two weeks. One month. Your job is to discover that magic number. Force yourself to do something to get your cardio-pumping at least 30 minutes a day. Mark off your calendar so you strategically measure the time it takes, but don’t stop. Once you get through to the other side and find yourself on the other side, eager to exercise, you are going to discover the gripping effects of SAD have suddenly minimized.
Take One Step:
There is no way to overstate the psychological effects that experiencing SAD can have on you. It can cause you to feel like a failure, second guess yourself and doubt everything you know to be true. So it should come as no surprise to know that if you don’t address the symptoms head on, you will lose traction, and find yourself walking into Spring “playing catch-up.” But I guarantee, this one strategy is a game-changer if implemented consistently. It is a simple, yet incredibly profound life-saver. Every day, you will do one thing to move you closer to your goal. It doesn’t matter how big or small. The idea is that you start and keep momentum. If your goal this year is to write a book or launch a business, do one thing to move the needle. Make a call. Write one page. Open up Google and do research. This simple act will work wonders on your psyche and begin to put the power back in your own hands and take it out of the weathers’.
Here what I know. You are a smart, savvy, badass woman. You’ve got mega shit to do. So you’ve got to get in the driver’s seat and take control. Stop sitting on the sidelines “waiting to feel better,” and begin the process of discovering what it will take for you to feel your best self.
If you are at the point where you are ready to make this year, your best by elevating your visibility, credibility, and profitability in 2019, I invite you to check out all of the FREE resources on my website: www.PersonalElevation.com.
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Jennifer Ransaw Smith is a nationally recognized Personal Elevation™Architect, Leadership Development Mentor, and Personal Brand Strategist. She specializes in igniting the visibility, credibility, and profitability of professional women. If you are interested in joining her tribe of “Undeniably Fierce,” women from across the globe or learning how to Boost Your Status, sign up for her FREE Master Class at www.personalelevation.com