There are two parts of winter pre and post Christmas. Pre-Christmas winter is romantic and dusted with hope. Mulled wine dulls the bitterness of the wind and the promise of Christmas holidays eases you through the dark evenings and the excitement of a new advent window pulls you out of bed on a chilly morning. But then Christmas leaves and we enter a new year, the hopeful air of new years resolutions drifts away and we are in February where in the UK and Ireland we realistically face cold, windy and wet weather until at least March 30th, Spring isn’t so much a thing here. So how do we stay productive in these months, how do we pull ourselves out of bed when it’s still dark out or stay motivated at work or uni to keep on typing. It’s too easy to Netflix binge until the weather gets better. But this isn’t what our January 1st selves wanted from us, we were gonna be better this year, we were going to work harder, eat healthier, exercise more. But in the Post-Christmas winter where do we find the strength to trudge on? Maybe it isn’t the big things that are going to make us feel better, no need to hit the gym 4 mornings a week and realistically getting all of your essays written before reading week was never gonna happen. But there are a few little tricks to add to your day that may get you back on that optimism train.
- Drink more water: We’ve all said it, we’re going to be healthier, no more junk food, only green, advance meal prep. But it’s not going to happen and realistically unless you were drastically unhealthy before it doesn’t really need to. Everything in moderation. But one thing you can do to try and feel healthier is stay hydrated. Proper hydration can give you more energy and help you concentrate more. It is good for your skin and carrying around a reusable bottle is better for the environment and your wallet, if like me you are constantly buying fizzy drinks and coffees. The time labelled water bottles are a great way to regulate your water intake to make sure you’re drinking enough but not just chugging a pint every 3 hours. They can be expensive so my hack here is to just buy a cheap bottle (mine is from Primark) and use a permanent marker or similar to write the times on yourself. I was amazed by how much of a difference drinking more water has made to my energy levels.
- Daylight alarm clock: I was tentative with this as it seemed a little gimmicky to me, but as someone who likes to rise with the sun, I really struggle to get out of bed on dark mornings. This clock has worked wonders for me, no longer do I lie in bed rationalising missing my 9 am lectures because I don’t want to get out from the warm covers. They are pretty simple in function, you set your alarm the night before and then the light gradually starts to get brighter over a half hour before your set time, so that when it goes off you’ve been gradually woken by a simulated sunrise. It’s a really nice way to wake up as you don’t get that sort of jolt into consciousness that you can with a phone alarm. It also gives you the freedom to charge your phone in another room overnight, meaning you don’t get woken up by texts, news alerts or facebook notifications.
- Take the stairs: So we all swore we would get into better shape this year. But I have a love-hate relationship with the gym, its expensive and intimidating, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go and even harder to go often enough to make a real difference. I nearly always feel better for going but sometimes if your work load is hectic, membership is too steep or you don’t want to go without a buddy the gym doesn’t appeal. This is completely understandable but not an excuse not to exercise and taking the stairs is such a great way to improve your fitness. I live on the 3rd floor and use the 4th floor the library and don’t use the lift for either. Sure I get out of breath and I’ve had to stop wearing heeled boots to college but I feel so much better knowing that I’m doing a little something to improve my health. It’s not marathon training and it won’t win me any gold medals but I’m doing it and I feel better for it.
- Nail down and morning/nighttime routine: When trying to introduce new things into our lives the best way is to integrate them into routine and especially when the days are shorter and it’s harder to find daily motivation a strong morning and evening routine are a solid way to pump up for and wind down from the day. What makes it into your routine is entirely up to you, but really try to make them part of your everyday life. It can be as little as a cup of coffee and listen to the radio or a skincare regime but have little things every day to give you structure and set you up for a productive day.
- Matching Pyjamas and Cosy slippers: Right so this one is small but effective. One of the absolute best ways to help yourself feel more positive, awake and motivated in the depths of winter is to get enough sleep, this sounds stupid but so many of us don’t get anyway near the right about of sleep for our bodies. We might start to wind down at 10 pm but the lights don’t go out til 1:30 am and with a 6:30 am start we are going to suffer for this. So I call for matching PJs. Or really anything that is going to make going to bed more pleasant and enticing. My flat is freezing so nice cosy pj’s make going to sleep pretty appealing so I’m all for it. Going to bed shouldn’t just be what you do when you run out of things to do with the day, it should a be a part of your day so dress it up, treat it right and sleep tight.
The winter months can freeze our motivation and make the smallest of tasks a nightmare to complete, so let me know if you have any productivity saving tips to help get through the winter slump months.