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As Seasons Change, Take the Bold Path

Steven Topper, LCPC

As we move toward the end of Summer, so many of us look back on the past few months and think: I wish I could bottle that up. Doesn’t it seem like there’s so much to do during those precious few beautiful months? Outdoors, socializing, exploration – it can feel like the city opens up in unique ways for a few months. And then we turn ahead with worry, here we go again, winter. It can be daunting to consider the long months where seemingly nothing happens. There is an important difference between Summer and Winter, and it’s not just the temperature. Often, we become more passive in those colder months. With temperatures dropping and daylight shrinking, it becomes more convenient and comfortable to stay home. It’s likely that this passivity- along with less light- leads us to increased levels of depression and anxiety. That stuck feeling of the winter months is bidirectionally related to passivity, each contribute to the other. So as the seasons change, make the intentional choice to step boldly toward action. One of the best ways to do this is breaking down our lives into four meaningful categories:

  • Leisure – what is enjoyable in life? Music, restaurants, reading, travelling, etc
  • Health and Wellness – sleep, eating well, exercising, meditating, going for walks!
  • Relationships – family, friends, significant others
  • Work and Education – learning something new or investing in yourself

When looking at these four life areas, decide which one could use the most work. If it’s a tie, or if you’re unsure, simply choose one that would feel meaningful. The important part of this is to make a conscious, active choice. In moving from passivity toward action, many barriers exist: procrastination, perfectionism, and low motivation are just a few. The only thing that matters is to choose a direction.

Once you’ve chosen a category, write down some goals that may align with that portion of your life – make sure they’re active! One of the surest protectors against depression and low energy is behavioral activation: Simply moving our bodies on a regular basis. At times we’ll make goals that are reliant on things outside of our control. For instance, a goal of saying yes to others reaching out for plans is reliant on other people. Instead, what if you are the person reaching out to friends? Consider making proactive instead of reactive goals. When goals are SMART, they have an increased likelihood of being met

  • Specific – Make sure the goal is clear
  • Measurable – How can you tell if you’ve done it or not?
  • Attainable- Can you actually do this? Can you make it more attainable?
  • Relevant- Does this goal move you toward your values?
  • Timely- Motivation increases when there is a deadline. What can you do today?

The best time to start in on these goals is NOW, TODAY. Take a bold step towards this goal as soon as possible. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.
Instead of allowing the changing seasons to dictate the vibrancy of your life, take bold action! We often feel stuck and helpless when engaging in more passivity. So the best time to get up and moving is now, any small step is a meaningful step.

If you or someone you know struggles with passivity and feeling stuck, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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