How to Overcome the Winter Blues

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.

A Woman with the Blues Standing Outside - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/druvo, Image #8709713

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/druvo

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Questions: Do you ever struggle with the winter blues? What do you do to cope? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Hi Mike,
    A good one, for me is writing down my goals in a power point presentation and while I am running every morning reading on my Ipad ( I run on a threadmill), and also motivates me reading books but more importantly spending time with my wife and son, for example planning about our future, our dreams, vacation trips, or playing with my son, lastly mass at church, it is like a renewal.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Juan! I like all your acitivities to beat the winter blues. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • http://www.inkindle.wordpress.com jeedoo

    Great suggestions for feeling down/mild depression. I have found my best solution is to read biographies that inspire–especially of God’s servants. Getting into another life story helps, but when it is a life story of trusting and obeying God, it does wonders for me.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is an excellent one. Biographies have the same impact on me. Thanks.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      I find that it also makes a difference to pray for, and to help, others. When we spend time in this manner, our focus is taken off of ourselves – our troubles, then, usually end up seeming much smaller as we see the needs of others and how much we really do have. So, in essence, we see “getting into another life” in a couple of different ways.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a good suggestion!

  • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathyfannon

    I battled depression for about 3 years in the late 90s. I still struggle with SAD in the winter months. What has been extremely helpful for me, along with the things you’ve listed, is a good quality vitamin D3 supplement (all of us should be getting between 4000-10,000 IU/day anyway) and a good quality St. John’s Wort. Along with a healthy diet of whole foods!

    Is it April yet?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I am not familiar with D3. I will have to check it out.

      • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni

        D3 does help, but you still need everything else mentioned in your post here. I take D3 and St. John’s Wort – and still struggle. Nothing can replace good sleep, some sunlight (or something that can offer elements of it), getting proper nutrients, and a good amount of exercise – but getting the D3 (at least) in the mix helps.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Okay, thanks. That’s what I figured.

    • http://twitter.com/KarinHaubold Karin Haubold

      I have dealt with S.A.D. for many years and every October I start taking the vitamin D and St. John’s Wort, and continue through the winter too. Instead of buying the light box, I change my light bulbs to the Reveal bulbs in the most frequented parts of my home. Doing those 3 things significantly reduce my symptoms. I live in Northern Illinois and still have days where I struggle, but I have been able to pinpoint those to when we have day – after – day of cloudy weather.
      Great post Mike!

  • http://fireandhammer.blogspot.com Dennis

    Hello and thanks for being open and honest in this post. I think it important when we are sad that we realize that we are not alone. There are others who have to cope with life just like we and who are willing to share our burdens.

    Along with what you listed I would add- Take a break. I find I get sad when I let my to-do list take over. At times I just need to shut down and take a break from the work and the noise that sometimes clutter life.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    I can tell when the winter blues are coming on, because I start isolating myself rather than engaging with friends and family. What do I do?

    Well, I recognized the need to take my vitamins and get back to exercising, but the other thing I do is find some subtle routine change. As simple of one as changing which flavor of coffee or which type of cereal, just a slight twitch in the mundane. It helps a little bit, especially in the day after day cloudiness we’ve been having here.

    Doug

  • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris

    I want to chime in a second voice for Vitamin D. We don’t get enough of it in the winter when we aren’t seeing the sun and it can really affect energy and mood. Further, if you keep your Vitamin D up you get fewer colds, flu, etc. as it’s critical in your body’s defense against viruses.

    You are so right about the importance of energy as a leader. If we don’t have it, the team really feels it. We don’t need to be sprinting all the time, that can exhaust out team. But leaders do need to be up-beat, focused and positive to set the tone for the whole team. Taking care of ourselves is step one to a achieve that.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Do you know if what we call Vitamin D is the same as D3? Of course, I have heard (and take) the former, but not sure about the latter. Thanks.

      • http://www.bradfarris.com/ Brad Farris

        Here’s the Wikipedia article on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_D

        Basically, invertebrates make D2 and Vertebrates make D3. When you buy a supplement it could be either (or both). They will both work, but D3 is closer to what your body makes.

        The amount of D in multi-vitamins is usually too low, it’s important to get a high enough dose (around 1000IU to 4000IU depending on age and diet) which usually requires one more capsule.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Thanks for this. It is really good to know.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    Timely post as we woke up to four inches of snow this morning. Being the leader of my department, I feel I need to be at the office regardless of the weather to set an example. This does not always sit well with my wife. I have the ability to work from home and she feels I should take advantage of this. I feel if I don’t come in, it gives every one else an excuse to stay home as well. Other than this, I enjoy the winters.

  • http://www.micropersuasion.com Steve Rubel

    Mike, I bought the Phillips GoLite too over the holidays. I was skeptical, but boy I have noticed a big boost in my energy level. Maybe it’s a placebo effect. Regardless, it’s working! Hope we get to meet up finally in 2011. – steve

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I feel the same way. Even if it is the placebo effect, I’ll take it!

  • Randy Elster

    Great thoughts. Thank you for sharing this. I was just thinking about these ideas but in a different context: surviving in ministry when problems seem to gang up on you. (They always seem to come with others to gang up on you, never alone.) I would only add a couple things: daily time in the Word and prayer help to keep our perspective on what’s really important. Plus making the effort to connect meaningfully with others, esp. other Christians, instead of w/drawing as we men tend to do.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, daily time in the Word and prayer are crucial to maintain perspective.

  • Anonymous

    Sunlight: We live on the shoreline and the lake effect weather means not seeing the sun through the majority of December, January and February. For weeks, even a month straight, we may not see the sun. In addition to the therapy light, I suggest people consider:

    Indoor Swimming: We have an excellent aquatic center. The bright light, chlorine and swimming recharges me. It is also reminiscent of beaches and warmer weather.

    Weekend Getaway: To break the monotony, if you can afford it, definitely plan a quick trip somewhere warmer. I realize this is not an option for everyone, but even a weekend drive South may be just what the doctor ordered.

    Thank you for tackling this topic, Michael. Often leaders are unwilling to admit challenges like these – as though we are not human!

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I’ve heard that people in the Pacific Northwest visit tanning centers by the droves this time of year. One they get a tan, but more importantly they get warmth and sunlight! I like your swimming idea!

      • Anonymous

        Great point! Were it not for the possible risks being raised by the medical community, I think there would be even more tanning bed users here as well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ben. I have thought about getting into swimming myself. This is my friend, John Maxwell’s preferred form of exercise, and he loves it.

  • Dannyde

    Michael,
    I know of two other good “fixes” for the blues. One is to move to warm, sunny and always fun Orlando! Or if you can’t do that, almost as good is signing up for the ReCreate Cruise sailing April2-7, 2011!! Just knowing you have that to look forward to helps the blues dissipate!
    The sun is shining here!!
    Danny de

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I can’t wait for the cruise. That is going to be a blast!

  • Leigh

    Food plays such a huge role in our fight against depression. I don’t think we realize how much what goes in our mouths affects our emotions, thoughts and abilities to give our best. Our paper’s Food section this week talked about Good Mood Foods. Here is a link to an article with the author of “The Good Mood Diet.” (http://tinyurl.com/24yac3v)
    Kleiner gives several suggestions for eating for good moods. And Ellie Krieger spoke about this same thing on CNN this week. Eating for a better mood is a hot topic these days!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. Thanks for the link. Someone once told me that you should think of anything you eat or drink as a drug. So true.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    What a timely post, Mike. Here in Southern California we are used to lots of sun this time of year. With record rains in December we had a week and a half of overcast and rain. Then my wife and I took a trip to perennial overcast Seattle over Christmas to see my daughter and her family. Talk about SAD. I can’t imagine living in the Pacific Northwest this time of year.
    I got sick when we got home (probably from visiting the Children’s Museum with my grandson) and have had lingering effects from the lack of sunlight.

    What helped me recover was a run in the sunshine at the Bumble Bee 5k in San Diego. This run led off the annual Holiday Balloon Parade, so we ran the parade route with over a 100,000 spectators cheering us on. Talk about fun… the run started at the Star of India and ended up at Ports of Call, where we got a chance to recover from the run and watch the parade.
    It’s amazing what sunshine and exercise can do to lift your spirits. I’ll definitely have to purchase one of those lights with our changing weather patterns and look into the Vitamin D supplements that your readers talked about. I hate being sad…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Your 5K sounds fantastic. I love San Diego. I think fish tacos are good therapy, too. At least for me! ;-)

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni

    Mike, I honestly didn’t even consider this until reading this, this morning. I am no stranger to severe depression (I experienced it after our son was born) – and while I have learned techniques to beat it overall, I still experience mild depression (especially lately). This makes a great deal of sense.

    Thanks for the heads-up about this. And I love the blue light therapy idea for the days you just can’t get outside much. That is something to save up for, for next year!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Self motivation and focus mattered a lot to me. To be frank, I find it difficult to maintain my normal productivity during winter. Keeping myself physically, mentally and emotionally fit was a great challenge for me.

    I used to read many self-help / motivational / management books during this time.

    When I am unable to beat the winter blues, I try to join them. I try to go with the tide rather than rebel against it.

    Try to extract maximum benefit out of any arising situation. That would be my strategy.

    I can more comfortably traverse the seasons of our lives by taking cues from nature.

    Especially during this season, I will turn my mind to new concepts & projects and how I will go about them.

    Instead of denying, by using the cycle of the seasonal year, I try to set the pace for tending my own life and works.

  • http://twitter.com/AndreaAresca Andrea Aresca

    Thanks, Michael, I always appreciate when you openly share your weaknesses and how to overcome them.
    I experience something similar in winter and I’ve learnt to think of this in advance (putting a reminder in my system) to keep my schedule lighter and avoid, when possible, high-stress commitments.

  • Anonymous

    Last winter I started taking 10000 IUs of Vitamin D (D3)a day and cut back to 5000 IU during the spring/summer. Even during the summer months, you have to spend at least 20 mins a day in the sun (with no sun screen) to get the Vitamin D you need. I’m noticing a huge difference this winter.

    I never tried the light therapy. In 2 weeks, I’m heading the Barrow Alaska for 2 days and I’m concerned about the lack of sunlight up there. I’ll look into it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I plan to use the light therapy year-round. I have really, really been pleased with the results. You will definitely need this in Alaska! (My brother lives there.)

  • Ashley Musick

    You could also move to the south and drink sweet tea. I think that helps. Seriously, winter is a draining season for me. My family lives further north and going home for the holidays is rough. It’s cold, dark, and snow. When I came back to Georgia we were playing frisbee and football outside in shorts on New Years. These are great tips for people who can’t relocate though.

  • http://www.davidsantistevan.com David

    I think the main thing I do is steal some alone time. Prayer and even just taking time to think helps me realize everything will be fine. Thanks for the helpful post.

  • Nora

    I’ve had trouble sleeping for years. I could go to sleep but not stay asleep. Melatonin has really helped me with this. I love to read so I try to read positive books and concentrate on personal development. All of your suggestions help me to keep more energized. Exercise is definitely important to my attitude. I enjoy creating things with my hands so I like to look for new projects in cooking, stitching, or any new learning experience. Combined, these things help me stay more energized and upbeat.

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  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Sleep has always been a big one for me. I am one of those guys that accomplishes a lot at night after the rest of the family goes to bed. However, I have three little ones tht like to get up early. So, with many days of ‘burning the candle at both ends’, the lack of sleep can greatly affect how well I function during the day and how well I respond to people and situations. Recently, I was convicted by God’s words:

    “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.” -Psalm 127:2 NIV

  • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

    I find prayer to be an indispensable discipline for keeping my energy and spirits up. The Bible says we are renewed by encountering the one who created us. Touching Jesus daily in the word and in prayer definitely blows away negative emotions.

    Singing the word is even better. Like Augustine once said, he who sings prays twice. I would never have believed it until I tried it.

    • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

      Singing can be truly powerful. Music seems to allow us connect with God in a way that words alone generally don’t do. It’s like combining intellect and emotion at the same time.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I agree. In the Bible, King Saul used to have David sing to him when he was depressed.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree with you. And I love the Augustine quote!

  • http://twitter.com/MattFMartin Matt Martin

    Great post Michael!
    I just recently posted a similar blog post but more focused on running.

    Latest Blog Post: “Beating the Winter Blahs: Successfully exercising through the cold months – http://ow.ly/3A3Wj

  • PJ Lincoln

    Depression can sneak up on you, too, without you really knowing or understanding what you’re dealing with. In my particular case, I was clinically depressed last year and, as Mike has said, the right meds have may a world of difference for me. Since then, I’ve returned to a health lifestyle – working out, cutting way back on sugar and other stuff.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Sometimes people need the meds just to get functional again. I’m thankful you got the help you needed.

    • http://www.bretmavrich.com Bret Mavrich

      Sometimes I think McDonalds should be called McDoldrums.

      I’ve definitely noticed the impact poor eating has on my emotions. Last year I went all year without a drop of soda. I’m keeping up the no-soda rule and backing into no sweets at all. It’s just not worth it.

  • http://www.megmassey.com Meg

    These are great suggestions for beating the winter blues. Woke up to snow this morning in Pennsylvania, so it’s certainly timely for me! To beat the winter blues, I read books and some of my favorite online blogs. I find that if I’m reading the thoughts of others, I’m less likely to focus on any negative thoughts that might be spinning around in my own head. I also do an indoor workout activity (when I can get out to run) like Pilates or Yoga…something that’s a good workout but is also relaxing.

  • http://www.coachshef.com shef

    Thanks Michael…I love your list but might add one more. I get this way in February…every year! Anyway, one thing I did was schedule a trip with my wife in March. A trip away with my wife is simply my favorite things to do so, during the down time, I have this exciting event right on the horizon to look forward to. Helps me a ton.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great suggestion. We usually go to the beach in the winter. The sun, wind, and water are great for our overall sense of well-being.

  • RachelWojnarowski

    Everything here is so true! One more tip: find a way to serve others. Work an event at your church, visit a shut-in, or serve in the soup kitchen at a homeless shelter. Has an amazing way of changing your mindset!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is great advice. Thanks.

  • http://www.walterwillis.net Walter

    Mike,
    I used the GoLite way back before Philips bought the company. I agree with you, it has made a huge difference for me. I continue to use it today after several years. Good post with good ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/jwalexander71 Jonathan Alexander

    what if you live in seattle and winter (i.e., rain) lasts for 9 months? the gospel shines the brightest in dark places. seriously, i’m a lead pastor, and the weather does take its toll on leaders and people in our church and community. many people in the pacific northwest struggle with seasonal affective disorder. in addition to exercise, i’ve been seeing a naturopath for over a year and he has me on an intense regimen of vitamins (especially vitamin with the lack of sunlight). thanks for this instructive post.

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  • http://twitter.com/NewEnglandHiker Roy Wallen

    While these things may help and also demonstrate good stweardship of these clay vessels we call bodies, the best remedy for me is to “lean not on [my] own understanding.” The best way for me to avoid discouragement — the blues — is to consider those things for which I am eternally thankful.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    Man, I wish it snowed where I am!

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    Great topic to openly talk about Michael.

    I have had trouble with depression in December and January in years past as well.

    My solution is to keep my body moving and change my posture when I walk. I need to walk tall and look ahead when I walk. This helps my physiology to stay positive and it helps me monitor my thoughts.

    I also remind myself to be grateful. Things of all the good things God has blessed me with really changes my depression.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Toni

    I like your ideas to combat seasonal depression. I’ll just add that I use natural peppermint. I have this lovely fragrance in my home throughout the holidays. It just seems so refreshing and uplifting. It gives me a boost.

  • Anne Jackson

    Vitamin D has been a huge issue for me. You have to ask for it specially when you get a blood test as it won’t test on the typical test. Mine has always been considerably lower in the winter. RX Vitamin D supplements make a huge difference.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I need to check this out. Thanks.

  • Deborah

    I just changed doctors, because I didn’t think mine was being very helpful. The new doc did some tests, and right away put me on a mild anti-depressant. If you had askd me if I was depressed, I would have said no. Now, with a little help, I realized that it was a slow descent down. Literally ten years worth. Don’t know if it is weather elated or otherwise, but I am more motivated to action than I have been for a very long time. Readers – Please follow Michaels four points, and see a doctor if you still aren’t “quite right”.
    Blessings for your New Year!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is so good to hear. I know of people who have struggled for years with depression. Many have gone through counseling with no improvement and then beat themselves up for being depressed. The problem was chemical. Once they got on the right medicine the improvement was dramatic.

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    Some people view depression as purely psychological. That is nonsense. While it can be psychological, it can also be physical. Thankfully, there are preventive steps we can take! (Like the ones in this post.)

    Joshua Hood
    2020visiononline.org

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. Sadly, these same people add guilt to the burden depressed people are already carrying.

  • Carissa Figgins

    I ALWAYS struggle this time of year. Earlier this week I re-implemented all of your suggestions and added a Happy Lite. I also went thru the list of friends I needed to reconnect with in a fun, relaxed way whethe r with just a cup of coffee, lunch, or even a craft. Now I feel I have more things to look forward to instead of tedious and sometimes overwhelming deadlines adding to my funk.

  • Tina Levorse

    All these tips are helpful, just start with one. I’ve been dealing with this for years. It never seems to get any easier. The trick is to recognize that it’s happening again and work on getting better. And…if you’re able to make small accomplishments to build some self-esteem, that seems to help too.

  • http://twitter.com/lovinglyyoursG Georgiana

    The winter blues can affect us all from time to time. Personally, I have found that if I look at warm, sunny beach pictures, inspiring nature scenes it uplifts my outlook. Also reading positive, inspirational books and quotes puts me in a better frame of mind. Everyday I intentionally try to eat healthy meals, take my multivitamin plus a vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sunshine.

  • Rickly Christian

    Tina Turner is my secret weapon. Crank up “You’re the Best” and tell me it doesn’t make you smile.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Ha. Now that’s one I’ll have to try!

  • Brooke

    Yes, it’s the sun one that gets me every winter. I have so much more energy and feel better in the summertime. Our dog lies in the warm sunshine streaming in through the window. Sometimes I join her. Don’t tell anyone though! :)

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    How’s 2 out of 4?

    Between family, work, MBA studies, early morning workouts (#4, check!) and a pitiful social life there is little time for sleep. Grade on #1 = failing

    I live in Seattle so #2 is a no go by default.

    That being said you for sharing. Definitely encourage people to check whether they’re meeting these essentials before seeking medicinal solutions.

  • http://www.drdavidhenderson.com David L. Henderson MD

    Good reminder! As a psychiatrist, I agree that many people rely too heavily on medications to do the trick when in reality, getting back to the basics can help just as much. There was a study done recently that showed that moderate exercise and a healthy diet were just as effective as antidepressants for mild and moderate forms of depression. Still, God has blessed us with medications that have helped to transform lives and even draw people closer in their relationships with God and with others. Thanks for the post.

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex

    I struggle quite a bit with the winter blues. The only way I know how to cope is to get plenty of rest and night and make sure to get out during the day. If I have time out of the house (even just a little bit) it helps a lot. So does making it a point to spend time with my loved ones. I am more of an introvert, so when I start to get the winter blues I start to go into hide out mode!

  • Klb8004

    I also use the Philips GoLITE to combat the mild depression I experience in the winter. It really makes a difference.

  • http://twitter.com/GGoldsmith Gretchen Goldsmith

    Re: Winter Blues
    Los Angeles had its rainiest December in more than a century, so a lot of us were feeling the Winter Blues despite getting plenty of exercise and being surrounded by family and friends. One thing that helped me was to reread my journal entries over the past two years. Then I wrote a list of the 20 most significant events. This put life into perspective and helped me set my priorities for 2011.

  • Anonymous

    I often struggle with depression in the winter time… I find that getting outdoors, even if it’s just a quick walk to the end of the driveway, during the middle of the afternoon helps to invigorate me mentally and physically.

  • Michael

    I try to read books which are uplifting and / or fun reading. I try to move away from what I need to read. I also listen to music which I like. I put on my headphones which drowns out all other noise and walk or kick back and listen.

  • http://www.manyhatsmommy.blogspot.com Jenny

    I’ll add music, prayer, and reading Scripture. Oh, and also asking someone to pray for me when I’m feeling desperate.

  • Jeffferguson

    Wow! I bet more people experience this than what they even realize. Thank you for sharing this list. I am sure for most of us this would do the trick during the winter months. Thanks!

  • Shari Brown

    Rickly and I have the same solution. I have 3-4 upbeat mixes in itunes and they rotate through my ipod. Playing music with friends is also very helpful and just getting out of the house makes a big difference. I usually take my camera and try to go on a few snow walks every winter as well.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Great tips, Michael. Exercise is the big thing for me. Every Friday I hike about 10 miles (http://coachradio.tv/trailtalk) and that keeps me very sane. I needed it badly yesterday, and do it no matter the weather. Recently we got a wii fit and I’ve found it a fun, challenging way to keep it up when it’s tough to get outside.

  • http://coachradio.tv/ Justin Lukasavige

    Great tips, Michael. Exercise is the big thing for me. Every Friday I hike about 10 miles (http://coachradio.tv/trailtalk) and that keeps me very sane. I needed it badly yesterday, and do it no matter the weather. Recently we got a wii fit and I’ve found it a fun, challenging way to keep it up when it’s tough to get outside.

  • http://www.liveonpurposecoach.com Dwright

    I love all of your suggestions. I have also found that listeneing to personal development cd’s in my car is very powerful. I especially love the cd’s in the monthly edition of Success magazine because of the variety of speakers who are featured. I try to listen first thing because it sets the tone for the day especially if I have not had an opportunity to read before I leave home. When I do both, it makes for an outstanding day!

  • DrDavidFrisbie

    Thanks for this post! Seasonal affective disorder is absolutely real. All four of your recommendations are strong, especially physical exercise. Also recommended where applicable: marital intimacy, moderate intake of caffeine, moderate intake of dark chocolate.

  • Vicky

    Yes, yes, yes, yes to each one above. I used to work in a doctors office and amazed at the low levels of vitamin D in so many and not just in winter months. Great tips for winter blues!

  • TNeal

    I’m a South Texan living in Wisconsin so I know how crushing the winter-time blues can be. Thankfully we do see the sun more often than when when my family and I lived in northern Wisconsin (two weeks of sunshine out of five winter months). Surprisingly, before Christmas, I got too much sleep and became lethargic. Temps hovering near zero just made me pull up the covers instead of getting out of bed to join my early morning basketball buddies.

    I told one church friend I’d see him Monday morning at the gym and I did. I haven’t missed a single morning session since. The difference in my attitude and energy level has been palpable and my productivity increased from day one.

    For me, exercise trumps sleep in the battle of the blues–not that I’m sleep deprived. Also accountability to a friend or two pushes me to make the right decisions (whether it’s exercise or living out my faith).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      These are great suggestions. It is good to have the accountability of a friend.

  • Ramon Presson

    As a therapist, an author of a book on depression “Beyond the Shadows” (LifeWay/Serendipity), and one who has experienced it, I affirm your recommendations. Several of your suggestions can be seen in further detail in Dr. Stephen Ilardi’s new book “The Depression Cure”.
    Ilardi, a Duke University clinician, outlines 6 vital activities/strategies including exercise, nutrition, light therapy, adequate sleep, socialization, and avoiding rumination of counter-productive thought (more DOING and less obsessive THINKING). Ilardi shows how we have expected how our bodies to adjust to our lifestyle, not adjusted our lifestyle habits to the way God designed our bodies.
    Despite the book’s subtitle author is quick to caution any unsupervised or unapproved ceasing of medication with doctor’s knowledge. But studies are showing inadequacy of medication in many cases. Book is well researched and documented.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This sounds like a great book. I will get it. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/joesheehan Joe Sheehan

    Great post Michael. I was burning “both ends”, as you put it, a few years back. After not much success, I mentioned it to my doctor at my regular checkup and turned out I had developed a minor (and easily manageable) thyroid disease. And I just figured it was because I was soon to be entering my 30′s. Ha!

    A friend told me last night how low energy was his only symptom of what was tested to be celiac disease.

    Low energy is one of those things your readers should mention to a doctor if it persists.

  • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs Brent Schebler

    I live in the Midwest section of the US and winter blues seem to get a lot of people down. For me, I actullay embrace and enjoy the winter months. I know it is going to Snow and sleet and I just look at how beautiful it makes the trees look. That is how I have coped with the “winter Blues”

  • http://twitter.com/MattBeard Matt Beard

    Thanks so much for the tips, especially about the light therapy. I wondered if those were effective but didn’t want to shell out the cash until I saw something from someone whose opinion I trust.

  • http://onstagetechnologies.com Scott Kantner

    I will probably be the outlier on this one, as my reaction is completely the opposite. The natural brightness that comes off of snow-covered ground on a cold gray day works better for me than the low-angle, sort of washed-out sunlight we get in the northeast on a clear winter day. What depresses me is day after day of sunny, no-change-in-the-weather days. I enjoy the changes of winter weather – it puts a buzz in the air and keeps things interesting .

  • Jeff Jones

    Thank you for helpful hints. I know this is more and more common or, at least, more people are willing to admit to it. My biggest difficulty is extinguishing the candle so I can do some of the other tips. I think I use the pace to keep me from thinking about things that I a) need to think about so I can move past them or b) thinking about things that hurt and I want to avoid.

    I’m headed home a little early today to fire up the treadmill and try to get back on track.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Dealig with the blues isn’t something I have to cope with often, butthey do hit occasionally. When they do, I try to spend time in the Word, focu on my family, and orient myself toward serving someone else. In other words, get my focus off of me.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    Great list. When I’m feeling a bit under the weather or like I’m starting to catch a cold (my body usually tells me ahead of time), I usually take Emergen-C. It energizes me better than coffee and fights off any coming infection/sickness. Between that and drinking an inordinate amount of water, I rarely get sick.

    I also try to use the winter time (trying to, anyway) to get into better shape so that I can enjoy the spring/summer (instead of getting fat in the winter and trying to lose the weight when it’s warm — which was a terrible cycle I was in for a couple of years).

  • Kima

    Thanks, Michael, for your post. I’ve struggled with SAD for years and have lived in the Chicago area all my life. The sun seems to disappear for most of January and February and those are hard months for me. I find it helpful to have something to look forward to, especially a trip to the beach in the winter months. It fills my soul.

    I received a gift card for Christmas and have decided that I’m going to buy the light you recommended. I’ve wanted one for years and your post pushed me to action. Thank you!

    Most of my friends and family members don’t understand how the weather so severely affects me. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone and not crazy to have SAD symptoms. Blessings to you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have found huge relief in the light. Your mileage may vary, but, for me, it was just the ticket.

  • http://www.defineddesign.com Lisa

    Thanks Michael.

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  • http://twitter.com/jonwellman Jon Wellman

    If you don’t mind my asking… what four capsules do you take daily?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I take the Garden of Life Living Multi, Optimal Men’s Formula. Two capsules in the morning and two in the evening.

  • Larrytindall

    4 basic human needs for which American “JonQPublic” seems too busy. No wonder we feel so overwhelmed and sluggish!

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  • Angelface107

    I already do 3 out of the 4 things on this list.  I am already on antidepressants but it doesn’t ever help the winter blues.  The only one that I don’t already do is the sun lamp….do you have any other suggestions?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The sun lamp made a huge difference for me.

  • http://twitter.com/PatWooldridge Patricia Wooldridge

    Hello, Michael,
    Year ’round, I’m consistently doing something, whether creating artwork, writing, reading books, doing volunteer work, and keeping the house clean;the dog, the inside birds (2) and the outdoor birds fed; lawn mowed/snow shoveled (in whichever season) and writing to and visiting with, family. All of this just keeps on keeping on, so I’m busy. I get enough sleep and good food, and if I want to start a fire in the fireplace and lie down with a good book, I do that. In summer, the screened porch takes the place of a fire. It’s nice to relax either way. All in all, the blues don’t seem to catch up to me. Maybe I’m just not susceptible to them, I don’t know.

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  • sarah c.

    I ended up here through a link from allisonvesterfelt.com. This is great advice and for myself I would have to include for any animal lover to get a dog, a cat, a bird, a shetland pony, whatever works for you.  They are life savers especially if you are an experienced pet owner or you are prepared as a first time owner to take care of one. They will most definitely take care of you back. Look at local shelters, you would be surprised what you find.

  • Joline Atkins

    I do! Hand raised!!!!!
    I have turned to exercise, really solid nutrition, and vitamins. Trying to decided on a therapy lamp. Thank you this piece! I had no idea you struggled also!