It’s winter here in the northern hemisphere. Longer nights. Shorter days. And more bad weather. This can wreak havoc on your emotional system and your overall energy-level. This is particularly important for us as leaders, since our energy is one of the most important things we bring to our teams.
I started experiencing mild depression the week before Christmas. For no apparent reason, I started feeling down. This typically began late in the afternoon and continued until bedtime. My energy level was low, and I had a difficult time focusing.
One evening, I shared my experience with a friend. He said he was going through the exact same thing. A few nights ago, another friend told me she had similar symptoms. I thought, I’ll bet this is more common than I initially thought.
Obviously, if someone is experiencing severe depression, they need to seek professional help. I have friends whose lives have been transformed by antidepressants. However, I fear that some people resort to medication prematurely, before making sure they have the basics covered.
Here are four items to consider before talking to a professional:
- Sleep. Too many of us try to burn the candle at both ends. I could get away with this when I was younger, but not now. I need seven hours a sleep a night. Period. I had drifted into a pattern of staying up later than usual while still trying to get up at my normal time. Bad idea.
- Sunlight. This is important to our physical and emotional health. When a deficiency leads to depression, it is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). The good news is that you can address this with a simple gadget that replicates sunlight. I bought the Philips goLITE BLUE Light Therapy Device. I have been using it for 30 minutes a day while reading in the morning. Not only do I have more energy, I am sleeping better.
- Vitamins. I had let my supply of multivitamins run out. , even though I know vitamins—especially antioxidants—help my body cope with stress. Therefore, I bought a 60-day supply of multivitamins and resumed my regimen. I try to keep this simple. In the past, I have taken a handful of supplements daily and found it difficult time to be consistent, especially when traveling. Now, I take only four capsules a day.
- Exercise. I’m embarrassed to say I was not being consistent here either. Gail and I were hiking on Saturdays, and I was walking or running one other time a week. But this proved insufficient to keeping my energy level up. With the new year, I made a commitment to get back to my four-day-a-week running routine.
I’m happy to report that addressing these four issues did the trick. This won’t work for everyone. But for me, it was enough to make the clouds dissipate. I have not experienced the blues for more than a week.