Avoid winter gloom: "Pull" summer into winter

January 7, 2010 9:49:16 AM PST
Whether you call it the winter blues or you simply dislike the cold weather, many people "beat" winter by adding many of the qualities of summer into their "winter" lives. (RELEASE) Executive coach and board-certified psychiatrist Joe Siegler, MD, has devised some clever tips for introducing a bit of sunshine into the coming months. Dr. Siegler says the key to keeping summer alive in winter is to make simple adjustments to your:
  • Sensory Environment
  • Activities
  • Dealing with any Symptoms of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

    Changes in your Sensory Environment


  • Spend time in large, open, and well-lit spaces, such as malls, gyms, indoor stadiums, libraries, etc.
  • Emphasize bright, summery colors at your home and your office ( Hint: switch your computer's desktop to a summer or vacation scene)


  • Keep blinds open to let in as much light as possible
  • Sometimes when driving to work, leave the sunglasses off so you can take in the more intense light for at least a few moments
  • Spend time in spaces that are brightly lit
  • Go skiing on clear days and absorb the sunlight


  • Keep your thermostat set at a slightly warmer position in the evenings which will make your home more comfortable; use a timed thermostat to save on heating bills earlier in the day
  • Insulate windows to make the house warmer and reduce bills
  • Wear layers and be warm no matter how cold it is outside and put your scarf, hat and gloves on before you go outside; be creative with staying warm by finding clothing options that are both fun and insulating
  • If possible, use a humidifier; it can take care of not only your skin, but make the air feel warmer!


  • Use candles, air fresheners, and diffusers with summer fragrances
  • Buy fresh flowers; keep plants alive with frequent watering or re-orienting them to where they get the most sun


  • Continue eating summery foods: salads, fruit, chicken, etc.
  • Avoid lapsing into high-fat comfort foods that can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated
  • If possible, bring low-fat, healthy alternatives to family gatherings and meals
  • Eat small portions and try to maintain limits on alcoholic drinks
  • Grill year-round; pull the grill up to a patio door so you can grill even during snow storms


  • Shift your schedule so that you wake earlier; get more daylight by running errands and working out in the morning.
  • If necessary, rearrange your schedule so that you can keep as active as possible

    Warm Weather Activities


  • Organize regular dinner parties with friends or parties at work so you don't become a winter "hermit."
  • Go out to large, warm restaurants with your mate, friends, and family; the restaurants don't have to be fancy or expensive.
  • Plan a summer Hawaiian Luau Party in the middle of winter for your family and friends
  • If you know anyone with a hot tub, have a winter hot tub party like they do on ski slopes.


  • Resist the urge to "hibernate" in winter and take up an exercise such as swimming, running, biking, etc.
  • Set fitness goals for the season (i.e. losing a certain amount of weight); consider having a task to get in shape for (i.e. half-marathon or triathlon)
  • Consider getting an exercise partner or a personal trainer; this makes it more social and helps keep you accountable
  • Find indoor versions of your favorite activities; (i.e. switch to running on treadmills; swimming in a heated indoor pool)


  • There are affordable winter vacations to be had; involve the whole family in finding cost-cutting deals for flights and hotels
  • Find last-minute all-inclusive specials to spend 3-day weekends in warm weather locations


  • Continue to have regular weekly dates; include outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing etc.
  • Long afternoons together on the couch in front of the TV can be great; but stay active and limit passive activities.

    Treating Persistent Winter Blues

    Dr. Siegler adds that if your winter blues persist despite your best attempts at the above solutions for "pulling" summer into winter, then he says you might have "Seasonal Affective Disorder" (S.A.D.) or winter depression. That means you should see a psychiatrist, primary care physician, or a counselor. Symptoms include sadness, insomnia, decrease in interests, excessive guilt, low energy, decrease in concentration, appetite changes, and even thoughts of suicide. Medication, light therapy (actual sitting in front of light panels), and even hospitalization might be helpful during the winter months if you have S.A.D. But Dr. Siegler reminds you that most people experience some symptoms of the winter doldrums and simply need to start "pulling" summer into winter by stimulating the senses and pursuing summer activities during the cold months; it does not necessarily mean you have a serious disorder.


    Joe Siegler, MD, is a practicing board-certified psychiatrist, executive coach, speaker, and president and founder of Full Life®, the nation's first coaching center. He is a frequent guest on radio and television. He is the creator of Spheres of Life® Coaching, which provides clients with unique goal-setting technologies for attaining optimal individual and organizational performance.


    Full Life Coaching Centers is a Chicago-based company that was founded in 1999 by Joe Siegler, MD. Full Life's mission is to help individuals and organizations turn vision into reality and create the change they desire. For more information on Full Life's services and mission, please visit www.FLCenters.com


    Fire Your Therapist by Joe Siegler, MD, is the groundbreaking new guide to achieving success with coaching that was published by John Wiley & Sons, in the summer of 2009. Visit FYTbook.com for more information. The book is available now at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Borders.com and bookstores everywhere.