I'm going to be totally honest with you guys. Winter bums me out. I've made jokes here and there in past posts about how I'm not a winter person, but it goes beyond just not being a fan. Seasons are obviously different all over the world, but here in Chicago, the leaves turn brown and fall off the trees in November. Then the sky becomes grey and everything is sort of dismal and colorless for several months. And then slowly but surely, bits of green peek through the ground, buds form on trees, and flowers start to bloom. Well, my mood tends to mirror this cycle. For me, I notice it the most between late January and early March. I'm much more unmotivated and uninspired than usual, I'm more tired, and I just feel sort of blah. Once the sun returns, the color comes back to the world outside, and the days become longer, I am back with a vengeance.
Unfortunately, feeling a bit "meh" in the late winter months isn't uncommon, and many of us struggle with how to stay driven and upbeat. This can be especially hard for those of us who work in creative fields, where our livelihoods are dependent on feeling inspired. I've had to work hard to discover how to motivate myself and feel good (inside and out) during this time of year, and there are a few things in particular that I've found to help me get out of my slump and back on track.
- Get out at least once a day. By just grabbing a coffee, making a run to the post office, or going to the store, a small and easy step is made to break out of my winter hibernation bubble. Just saying "hello, how are you?" to another human - even for a few seconds - establishes some level of contact. Even if you work in an office with a ton of other people, try to get out for lunch or to grab a snack away from your workplace.
- Reserve one day each week for plans with a friend(s) or partner away from your house or apartment. In the summertime, I get out to do things with friends on a regular basis, but sometimes when I push myself to make nonstop plans for social outings in the winter, I end up feeling exhausted and only partially "there." However, when I make one solid plan for social activity each week, I'm able to benefit from the experience by having something to look forward to, and by getting the social contact I need without feeling overwhelmed. For example, this week, I made plans with my friend Cheri to go to a huge jewelry show tomorrow and then to go back to her place to hang out and admire our awesome new purchases. It's something simple, but it will get me out of the house and enable me to do something I enjoy with another person. It doesn't have to be the same day every week, and it doesn't have to be all day. It can be a one-on-one outing or a group event. It can be a lunch or coffee date, a shopping outing, going to a museum together, meeting for cocktails, going to see a band, going to a party, or just hanging out. If other plans come up during that week that sound fun, you can of course participate in those as well! But by setting aside that one day or part of one day every week, you are creating a simple opportunity to get out and be social without putting too much pressure on yourself - especially if you tend to naturally feel more introverted in the winter.
trip to Mexico with Robbie's band last month, I took advantage of the sunlight (with SPF, of course) as much as possible, and I noticed a difference even a full week after I got home. I also invested in a lightbox a few years ago, which can help provide that extra boost of sunlight that winter's grey skies and shorter days lack. These can be really pricey, but as long as the box produces 10,000 luxe of light, you're getting what you need. Mine is a portable model and was about $60, which is considerably less expensive than the full size boxes but provides the same therapeutic level of light. I'll admit that I'm not always good at remembering to use it, but I've found that if I keep it by my bed and turn it on first thing in the morning while I'm waking up, it makes a difference in my day.
For my fellow non-winter people, I hope these tips are helpful in melting away the winter blues and recharging you so that you can stay motivated and cheerful! I'd love to hear what works for you as well. And remember, if all else fails - there's always chocolate.
Photograph used in top image taken by Bliss Studio.