Posted on 25/07/2017 by
For many people, negative thinking increases as daylight decreases. This is especially true if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs only for a few months each winter.
While I can’t offer you a free trip to a sunny locale, what I can offer is a less expensive, longer lasting alternative that can stop your negative thinking in less time than it takes to complain about the weather. With a little practice, you can use my Mood Switch Method to raise your spirits during the darkest months of the year.
Until recently, the main treatments for SAD were light therapy, talk therapy or medication. Studies found it most beneficial to combine them. However, researchers recently determined that another approach – all on its own – led to a significant decrease in the recurrence of SAD. I experienced the power of this approach when my own mood plummeted a few winters ago.
Putting a Freeze on Negative Thinking
During a particularly cold, grey, snowy winter three years ago, my feelings about winter went from neutral to negative! In addition to my constant negative thinking about the weather, I felt tired and irritable, and couldn’t concentrate.
Since I help people every winter with their seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and winter blues (a milder form of SAD), I decided to give myself a dose of my own medicine. I turned to my Mood Switch form, which was still in the early stages of development.
Using the form, I listed all my negative thoughts about winter. Here are just a few examples from the top of my very long list:
- My hands and feet are always cold.
- I can’t enjoy the outdoors because it’s too cold.
- There’s nothing fun to look forward to at the end of the day since it gets dark so early.
- I can’t handle the dark and cold.
After listing all my negative thoughts, I created these positive thoughts or “Helpful Responses” to counteract each negative thought:
- I can buy special gloves and socks to keep me warm when I’m outside.
- I can learn to snowshoe, which will give me a way to enjoy the outdoors.
- There are lots of things to look forward to at the end of a cold winter day: coming home to a warm house, relaxing with a book, watching a favorite TV program.
- The dark and cold won’t last forever, and every day after Dec 21st is a little longer.
I actually did buy really warm gloves and socks and learned to snowshoe! In fact, I enjoyed snowshoeing so much that I began using the thought of snowshoeing to counteract all of my negative thoughts about snow!
I rewrote my Helpful Responses, added the title “Things I Like About Winter,” and placed a copy both on my bathroom mirror and on the seat of my car.
Did this help me feel better about winter? Absolutely! I later learned that research had also demonstrated that this type of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) was an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder.
If you suffer from SAD follow these simple steps so you can start enjoying the darkest of seasons:
- List your negative thoughts about winter
- Create a Helpful Response to counteract each negative thought
- Use your Helpful Responses to create a Things I Like About Winter list
- Post your list in highly visible places, and read it several times a day