You wake up early in the morning, it’s dark outside and you’re tired and moody even though you slept enough. Now you’re going to work while being miserable all day until you go home while it’s dark outside again. You feel lazy, you don’t want to do anything while you have a need for sweet food.
The drive is gone! It’s winter depression or SAD, seasonal affective disorder.
I experienced that more than often. I’m tired all day, even though I slept enough and only do what’s necessary. I remember times when I didn’t even want to leave the house for training because it’s cold and dark outside. Instead, I wanted to sit at home, watch TV and eat gingerbread. It’s the reason why I wanted to get to Thailand as soon as possible once the holidays are over.
There is a key to not falling into winter depression and it’s no “hack”. It’s simple:
Keeping up the WORK!
Keep working on something.
Being busy is the key. Around the holidays, we shut all the work down, just to do nothing. Then when we must go back to work, it’s so hard to get back, especially because of the added seasonal effects. Finally, January is becoming a Monday on steroids.
The result is that you end up doing nothing. Doing nothing will lead to more depression.
It’s a cycle. Once you’re in the cycle, you’re trapped. Want to get out of the cycle? No, you don’t want to get out of the cycle. You don’t even want to get into it!
You don’t have to give your Monday steroids. Why would you do that? There are a few steps to damp winter depression. Follow them and you won’t hate your life while it’s cold outside. Make sure your recovery is right and you’re physically and mentally balanced.
Then do this:
Start your day with a good morning routine. You’ll need a morning routine that gives you energy. We start with an energy giving morning routine because that’s what starts a day working towards your goals.
You need something in the morning to look forward to. It can be your coffee, it can also be a phone call with a loved one of yours. Give yourself a reason to like getting out of your bed.
A morning doesn’t start with looking at your phone! Waking up and checking social media first thing in the morning is the worst thing you can do. Give your body what it needs first before you grab your phone.
A routine can give your day and your way of thinking a structure. That’s what you’re lacking when winter depressed and you get lost. A To-Do-List that you make in the morning or the night before can help you to stay on track.
My morning routine is long because it has substance. I get up and make my bed and weigh myself. Then I drink water, a lot. I take a shower before I get dressed and prepare my breakfast and coffee. Preparing my breakfast takes time as what I’m having has huge effects on my mood. While drinking coffee, I check my messages on my phone. I don’t spend too much time on social media or news pages, just read my messages and reply. There are sometimes slight changes but the structure is always the same. Every morning.
Take your time to eat healthy. Just because it’s dark outside when you wake up it doesn’t mean you can eat a bullshit sandwich for breakfast.
Eating healthy food makes your body feel good. The balance of physical and mental health is important. So, whenever you start feeling mentally bad, your body even has to feel better to balance it out.
I understand, it’s a holiday and you want to break your diet. You can break your diet. I break my diet all the time. It’s nice to eat good food on holidays. But keep in mind why you break your diet.
You break your diet to feel good. But whenever you break your diet for too long, you’ll feel bad.
So, if you break your healthy eating habits, do it in a controlled way and always have a plan of how to get back on track.
Supplement Vitamin D!
In the winter months, we’re lacking sunlight. Vitamin D is a hormone produced in our skin with the help of sunlight. If you can’t get a sunbath at the beach now, you have no other choice than supplementing vitamin D.
I’m always doubtful about supplements. I rarely take them. I never knew what to think about vitamin D. When I took it for the first time it was to strengthen my immune system in fight preparation, but I never really felt any effects. Until I stopped taking it after two-months, I started feeling more tired.
Why did I not feel anything? Because the vitamin D made me feel normal! Of course, you don’t notice anything when you feel normal. But you’ll notice something when you feel like shit and not normal anymore.
It’s hard to overdose on vitamin D. I take 5000 IU per day together with coconut oil as vitamin D is fat soluble.
You’ve got to be busy. Do something and don’t do nothing!
On some Sundays I get asked, what I was going to do. I remember saying: “Nothing! Today I just want to do nothing!” It was only because I hustled all week. I was busy all week and I needed a rest. Don’t do that too often or you will get trapped in the cycle of doing nothing.
There is always something to do. It means you can do something enjoyable. You can start learning a new language or educate yourself about stuff you’re interested about but never really deal with.
Go to the gym and train something you enjoy!
Remember, just because everybody is doing nothing it doesn’t mean that you should do nothing. On New Year’s Eve I hustle. I do a job and make money because it’s no day I really look forward to. Being busy keeps me away from the New Year’s Blues most people are feeling.
Exercise is the most effective weapon to fight depression!
It doesn’t matter what kind of sports you’re doing as long as you enjoy it. Most studies have been done with aerobic exercise like running, but it was also shown that the effects are similar to more intense exercise.
Though, it has to be something you enjoy! If you hate lifting weights, don’t lift weights. Do a movement that makes you happy.
The best exercise for me is stand-up fighting like boxing or Muay Thai or even full MMA. After every sparring session, I’m high on happy hormones and talking a lot.
Doing sparring triggers and stimulates all your senses. You don’t just blow your lungs out, but also train your focus. Plus, it is just a relief of emotions to punch someone and get punched. Being punched in the face is like medicine.
Talk with People!
After sparring sessions, I speak a lot. Because I’m happy. When you are happy, you feel the necessity of talking to people.
Having SAD makes you feel lonely. Simple counteraction is to speak with people. Don’t go somewhere crowded shutting your mouth and cutting all small talk off. No matter how introverted you are, you need to exchange words with people.
Do something together, train together, eat together.
It’s especially the mindset of positive thinking people that you can benefit from.
Sometimes I am too exhausted to talk, but I listen to people’s words all the time. I don’t even listen to music anymore when I’m travelling. Instead, I listen to podcasts and listen to someone talking about something he or she is passionate about.
Nothing keeps you more driving forward than a positive mindset!
Sometimes it is healthy to just smile even though you feel bad. You can wipe worries away by changing the phrasing of your thoughts. If you feel low in energy, don’t tell yourself that you have no energy. Tell yourself: “I’m doing something to have high energy!”
Keep remembering that you are in a good situation, it can always be worse.
You either appreciate your situation or you don’t. If you don’t appreciate your situation, change it. Be aware of what you must do to change it. But one thing is for sure: You have to do something!
Do something before it’s too late
Tonight, you go to bed with the thought of killing it the next day. Wake up the next morning with a positive mindset and appreciate being alive. Get up and start the day with your morning routine, including a healthy breakfast and vitamin D. The rest of the day you spend being busy and talking to people. And don’t forget to train!
For me, this combination is powerful!
Take it easy,