SAD Leaders – 5 Ways to Beat the Blues

images-3“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God — soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 42:5, The Message Version

Are you leading SAD? Otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD is a type of depression that hits people at seasonal times each year (see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195).  Lack of sun and prolonged time indoors can trigger SAD. Symptoms include depression, hopelessness, anxiety, insomnia/oversleeping, changes in appetite, loss of energy, social withdrawal, weight gain/loss, and all of these depending on the season. I’ll admit to battling this… Spring/Summer has been on the rainy side, to say the least. Hiking is a great outlet for our family, and the weather just hasn’t cooperated. Add this to the usual stuff of life and leadership and it has been easy to be bummed-out.

As leaders, we may be tempted at times to live and lead SAD. The ebb and flow of organizational life-cycles brings about never-ending surprises and predictable, patterned problems. We find ourselves having to push through the “blahs” and the “blues” of the mundane and gut-it-out when best laid plans blow up, people scatter or worse, revolt against us and the vision we thought we had cast with creative clarity. How do you keep from giving up and giving in when your life and ministry suddenly come down with a case of SAD? How do you keep it from spreading to epidemic proportions among your lead team and organization?

Consider 5 ways to beat the blues…

1 – Admit it… your SAD. Find a trusted coach, mentor or friend and expose the disorder for what it is. Confront it head-on. Don’t bottle-it-up, push it down or keep it to yourself. Remember, isolation is the devil’s home-court. Open up to someone. Confession is indeed “good for the soul.”

2 – Journal it. Notice, I didn’t say blog it. You really shouldn’t bare your soul to the masses until you have first done so with the Lord and a trusted accountability partner. Unload it in writing. Make it raw and uncensored… God has heard everything you’re not saying anyway. Tell it like it is. Simply by doing so there may just be some sweet release, especially when you realize that you have told the ugly truth and GOD STILL LOVES YOU!

3 – Get out & get moving! Break out of your routine and go hiking, biking, take up ball-room dancing with your spouse, enroll in an art class, go canoeing, camping, see a movie… anything to interrupt the sad state of affairs that may just be more feeling than fact. When you can’t get out and away, create an environment of praise and thanksgiving around you and your office with music, coffee (or your libation of choice) and good conversations.

4 –  Lighten up. When great ships of old faced a tempest they knew that lightening the load may just be the difference between sailing above or below the wild waves. Unload some of your work load. Learn to trust by doing less and delegating more. Discover the power of partnership and share the journey with others. Besides, perhaps they are more gifted and have been patiently waiting for your permission to serve?

5 – Laugh more. I’m serious about not being so serious! Abraham Lincoln was known for keeping a sense of humor, telling a tale (often on himself) or sharing a quip that brought perspective even in the most dire of circumstances. Like Honest Abe, maintain a humble assessment of yourself. See your present circumstance in the light of the long-run. This season will pass… pass it with perspective and laugh it up along the way!

Finally, remember that SAD is very contagious… but so is JOY! See to it that you live, laugh and love with your spouse, kids and lead team. If you have been SAD for any length of time then you may well have infected others with your ailment. “Take a chill pill” and prescribe the same for all of those in your circle of influence.

You don’t have to stay SAD. Try these remedies as you live and lead with greater gladness!

PS – If you have been down and depressed for an extended period… please seek out professional Christian counseling and/or your physician. There is hope and help!

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