Winter blues can be tough: when the most productive thing about you is that sneeze and watching the sunset before 4.30pm, I think it might be worth sharing some useful pick me ups and daily routines to help you stay focused and motivated.
Credit: Make up Artist/ Emma Motion
1. Keep calm and soak up the sun
On your lunch break fasten up your windproof coat and dose yourself with 15 minute’s sunlight. Most of us, come winter, tend to stay warm indoors during lunch, with our homemade soups and a hot cuppa. But, if you want to boost your mood and the opportunity presents itself, expose yourself to a dose of sunshine and take an extra walk during work.
Of course for those who really can’t stand the bitterness of January then try and place yourself close to a window, a few hours of natural light should contribute to help brighten your mood.
Remember, we’ve already passed BLUE MONDAY, which falls on the third Monday in January, we have more of a reason to feel less glum – brighter days are ahead of us!
2. A short workout is better than no workout
We all feel sluggish and demotivated to exercise during these cold months. Try not to let the season affect your mood, think outside the box with home workouts, perhaps following YouTube videos, even taking the long way to the shops or hopping off the bus a couple of stops early to stretch your legs.
Of course you can always push yourself to join a gym class but whatever your preference, your minimum target is to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes per day.
3. Food is fuel
All year round we struggle with the temptation of those deliciously naughty snacks and treats but come winter we need to be extra mindful, quite simply because we tend to stay indoors more and so, exercise less.
If, like me, you have your strongest willpower in the supermarket, then shop smart. I’m much less likely to pop out to get some chocolate if it’s raining outside and much more likely to snack if I have it in the cupboard. So manage your resolve at your front door and you’ll be one step ahead of your cravings.
As for when at work or simply when you’re out and about, how about popping into a pound shop and pick up a small re-sealable bowl and make up your own snack-pot; not only will you manage your portions better, but you’ll also be one step closer to reducing sugar and salt that seem to be in everything “convenient” these days, plus you’ll surely find it cheaper in the long run.
Did you know walnuts, bananas and tomatoes help your body produce serotonin and will lift your mood – don’t forget to write these down on your next food shop.
Credit: Make up Artist/ Emma Motion
4. Breathe new life into an old hobby
Can you remember a time you discovered a hobby but quickly it faded either due to lack of free time or other distractions – do you have a joy for baking? Maybe it’s a magazine article you have forgotten about?
Being creative for fun is essential to being happy, it’s part of what makes us human, so whether it’s revisiting something that we used to enjoy or trying something new, tap into your inner child and have a play-date with yourself.
5. Be tech smart!
Most of us are guilty of spending an unhealthy amount of time interacting with some form of technology, whether it’s work related or flicking through social media on a phone or tablet.
The HSE (information about health and safety at work) suggest that short, frequent breaks are better than less frequent longer breaks, so a 5-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes is better than a 20 minute break every 3 hours.
Stand up, stretch and take a little walk, if only to pop the kettle on or get a glass of water. Look up, look around and focus on something more than 20 metres away, give your eyes a break too.
6. Beat Fatigue
Are you suffering from the winter tiredness bug, half the time you’re struggling to stay awake and you just cannot stay focussed, well here are a few habits you may consider dialling back: swap coffee for green or herbal tea, coffee lovers if this is too much to ask, just avoid coffee in the evening as caffeine seriously affects your body clock.
Make sure your bedroom is a place of relaxation; soft lighting and essential oils can really help, and avoid using your phone or tablet for an hour or so before bed. Research has shown the blue light emitted by screens inhibits melatonin formation in the brain, an essential chemical for a good night’s sleep.
A couple of small changes that could make all the difference to getting the most out of your day.
7. Get your giggle on
Watch your favourite comedian! Laughter, as you probably know, is actually a great medicine, it reduces stress hormone levels, triggers the release of endorphins (endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body) it even works your abs!
So whether it’s a stand up show or sitcom treat yourself to a chuckle.
8. We’re social animals
Don’t settle for sitting in all winter, get your diary out and start planning! Its time to schedule some weekends away, visit friends or even a night out, who doesn’t love something to look forward to.
A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed that our perception of how steep a hill is lessens when we’re accompanied by friends, truly an apt metaphor for life. So why not take the long winter evenings as an opportunity to catch up and share some quality time with those you love.
9. Improve your inner-space
If you’re going to be spending time stuck indoors make it worthwhile, why wait for Spring to give your home a treat and reap the rewards of a clean and tidy home – I know I do!
We all have those little projects that need our attention; the squeaky cupboard door and the overstuffed wardrobe haunt us. Why not use the time you’re stuck indoors to tackle some of those things that niggle on a daily basis, you can even make a game out of it.
Write each thing that bugs you about your home on a separate piece of paper and make a raffle out of which you’ll tackle next, that way you can’t ignore the hard ones and an easy one will be a quick accomplishment justly earned.
10. Upbeat your beats
We all know music influences our mood, so now is the perfect time to give your day a boost and revise your tunes and raise your spirits.