This time of year, when the days are shorter, colder and darker can wreak havoc on our goal achievement. According to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, about 15% of Canadians experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter months. When you’re experiencing low energy & motivation, appetite changes (specially cravings for simple carbohydrates), aversions to social interaction and hypersensitivity to perceived failures, it’s tough to stay on track with your elaborate goal-focused plans. No matter how important your goals are and how solid your plans are, the needed actions can seem overwhelming.
The good news is, there are some clear strategies you can use to find your light. Creating a daily kickstart plan can help to move you out of your funk and into your groove. Your strongest weapon is your own sense of control. Research shows that when you can create a strategy for perceived control over a stressful or seemingly hopeless situation, you are less likely to fall into patterns of helplessness and depression. So, how do you take control when your energy, focus and motivation just isn’t there?
Easy as 1 – 2 – 3!
- Decide on ONE small (less than 15 minute) action that you can do every day & can have full control over. Make sure you are not dependent on anyone else to execute this action. Choose a small task that makes you feel good & that you can always execute well. Set yourself up for success!
- Test this task. Make sure it’s easy & that you feel accomplished once you’ve completed it.
- Label this action as your “Light Switch”
Doing your Light Switch task daily will increase your self-efficacy to complete this task successfully. On the days that you’re having a tough time getting yourself going, decide to flip your Light Switch (even if you’ve already done this action earlier in the day) – take back control over the course of your day. If you flip your Light Switch and you decide not to complete other goal-oriented task, reflect on the fact that you’ve made a decision. With your light on you’re making a choice. You aren’t being helplessly sucked into the couch with a bowl of your favourite comfort food. This increased level of personal control will help you to consciously make decisions about your actions & to spiral you towards your goals instead of into the black-hole of winter progress-sabotage.
Whatever your Light Switch action is, own it. Turn YOUR light ON daily. Recover your control. Advance your goals. BestYourself!
My Light Switch is a 15 minute walk no matter what the weather – usually with my golden retriever, because his happiness on a walk always makes my light shine brighter!!
Resources: Clinical-depression.co.uk | Mooddisorderscanada.ca