Top Tips for Staying Motivated this Winter
by Leila Wright
Our bodies, emotions and spirits are highly reflective of the seasons, and it would be hard to argue against the fact that winter is usually the season we’re less likely to put our wellbeing first. Autumn is full of colourful, golden leaves in abundance and crisp walks in the late summer sunshine, but once the clocks go back at the end of the month we really start to head into winter hibernation mode.
The dark mornings make us want to snooze in bed longer, the cold weather makes us want to stay wrapped up indoors, and the lack of sunshine means our bodies are prone to being imbalanced. We can lack motivation and happiness this time of year, for these reasons and many more. There are some benefits to winter though! Read on to find out what our top tips are for staying motivated this winter.
Eat well + warm
Summer is all about salads and smoothies, but as soon as winter comes around we all tend to crave more comforting foods to keep us warm. The good news is that warming foods are essential for our health in winter and help to balance our energies. If you’ve ever wondered why you crave a hot cup of tea or bowl of soup when you’re feeling a bit chilly – there’s your answer.
The thing to be careful of, is not to eat too many rich, stodgy foods that are likely to sap your energy from lack of nutrients. If you feel a bit lazy around this time of year and prefer to eat conveniently, try making big batches of food – like soups, stews and casseroles - and freeze them. That way, you’ll always have something comforting on hand instead of calling your local takeaway.
The darker days mean that we’re less likely to get up early in the morning to go for that run or to that yoga class. In the evening we’re more likely to come home after work, put our pyjamas on and plonk ourselves on the sofa for an evening of comfort food and TV. That’s all well if you feel in need of some extra relaxation, but try not to make a habit of it otherwise you’ll start to notice a drop in your motivation at work.
If you’re used to running outdoors, then use the winter as a chance to try something new or take up a class. Exercising in summer is much more appealing, but try to find a way to keep moving in winter. You know you’ll feel much better for it if you do!
Increase your self-care
Winter might come with its flaws, but if you’re feeling run down after a busy summer then this is the perfect time to take care of yourself. We’re talking doing all the things you really love and mean to do in the summer months, but don’t. It’s a well-known fact that most of us don’t look after ourselves, emotionally and physically, as much as we should for the most part of life. If this isn’t addressed, it can result in anxiety, stress, depression or burn-out.
The wonderful thing about dark evenings, is that you don’t always feel the need to be doing something social and are more likely to come home and look after yourself – therefore preserving your energy. When you do this, ensure you use your time wisely and have a hot bath, burn some energising essential oils and read a book, or perhaps gather your thoughts in a journal and set some new intentions. Whatever it might be, give yourself permission to nourish your mind, body and soul this winter.
Make sleep a priority
Our relationship with the digital world can make it hard for many of us to switch off at night, meaning we can end up getting to sleep later than planned and feeling sleep-deprived the next morning. The dark and cold mornings also don’t make for easy waking up, and the less sleep we have the less motivated we’ll feel.
It’s common to produce too much melatonin in winter (the hormone that regulates our sleeping patterns) if we don’t see enough light, and this can cause our bodies to feel very tired and sluggish as a result. If you lack motivation and energy in winter, make it a priority to get a really good night’s sleep (7.5 - 8.5 hours is the recommendation) through the colder months, to ensure that you wake up refreshed and ready to face every day.
Add more colour to your life
Do you notice that everything becomes duller in winter – the sky, the trees, the buildings, our clothes, and even our skin and hair? Colours have a huge impact on our emotions, and it’s no surprise that the vibrant yellow of the sun and the orange and reds that come to life through nature in autumn all contribute to our feelings of happiness.
Colour psychology is the study of human behaviour, and research has suggested that our surroundings play a huge part in how we feel. If you’re mostly around colours that have the ability to bring you down (black, grey, blue), then you might want to think about introducing more warmth into your life in winter for an energy pick-me-up (yellow, orange, purple, red). It could be a woolly scarf that you wear, a mug you drink your coffee out of, a bright print for your home, a notebook you write in or the food you eat. Adding more colour into your life will improve your motivation and lift your mood when everything else feels a bit grey.
Leila Wright is a freelance writer and blogger, with a passion for creating a positive impact on mental health and the environment.