As winter officially approaches and exposure to sunlight grows shorter for many of us in the northern hemisphere, our thoughts turn to preserving our motivation through the winter ahead. The instinct to hibernate can be strong, as we may find ourselves struggling to stay productive when we’d really prefer to just go home and curl up in a blanket with some cocoa.
Studies have shown workers actually tend to be more productive in winter because they’re less distracted by pretty weather and thoughts of all the fun things they could be doing instead of working. However, we don’t always feel productive, and it can be hard to feel like being productive. For 6% of the United States population, the effects of dark and cold climate can result in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can trigger major depressive episodes, while another 14% of us experience a less pronounced sense of fatigue and sadness characterized as “winter blues.”
Whether you suffer from the serious effects of SAD, or winter blues, or you just feel a little drag on your motivation in winter, there are some steps you can take to minimize these effects and stay on track. You can still have the blanket and cocoa, but they don’t have to rule your life through the months to come.
Go into the Light
Even though daylight hours are shorter, your body’s need for sunlight remains the same. In winter we spend less time outside, and when we are outside we’re covered with coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. You don’t need a lot of sunlight, but you need some, so brave the cold for a few minutes each day. Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, a hormone essential to feeling calm, happy, and focused. A few minutes of sun exposure each week—year round—also boosts vitamin D levels, which protects against disease and boosts metabolism.
Stay Warm Indoors
Energy use is always a concern, and it’s never going to be easy to get a whole office to agree on a temperature. At the same time, if you’re focused on trying to stay warm at your desk, you’re not focused on your work. Negotiate with colleagues at work, family at home, to find a thermostat setting that keeps you comfortable, so you can spend your time thinking about more important matters.
Take Advantage of Indoor Time
Those studies that found workers are more productive without the distraction of nice weather make a good point. If you have to be indoors most of the day anyway, you might as well make the best of it. It’s easier to stay an extra hour or two and get a little more work done or reorganize your files when the alternative is a long commute through snow and slush.
Limit Your Macaroni Intake
Our bodies are wired to crave carbohydrates, sugars, and fats when the temperature drops. These cravings are a biological holdover from the centuries the human race had to survive without central heating. Unfortunately, when we give in to these cravings we often feel sluggish afterward, so it’s better to maintain healthier eating habits and splurge on comfort food occasionally through the winter. Choose hearty vegetable soups and warm tea over pasta and cocoa for a boost without the carb crash.
Regular exercise boosts your energy levels and helps your mood, so be sure you’re making time to walk, run, play sports, go to the gym—whatever activity you prefer to pursue. You can combine exercise with your daily dose of sunlight or work out indoors. The location is less important than maintaining the routine.
Wash Your Hands
Nothing torpedoes your productivity and motivation faster than being sick. Maybe you take a few days off work and have to play catch up. Maybe you go into the office and muddle through the days, but you’ll still have to play catch up. Beyond flu shots and avoiding close contact with others, the simplest way to keep yourself from falling behind during winter is to keep your hands clean.
Plan for Fun
At the end of the workday or week, the lure of a warm sofa remains strong. Winter tends to isolate us in our homes if we let it, so don’t let it. Make time for socializing and activities that will rejuvenate your spirits. Set goals to learn something new or take on a new project at work. Take a vacation. Keep your mind and spirits stimulated to stave off boredom and malaise.
See a Professional
You may find the winter blues (or worse) find you no matter what you do. If fatigue, low moods, or general absence of motivation persist, get to your doctor. You may have a low-grade illness. You may need a vitamin D supplement. You may need other treatment options. Don’t wait for spring to feel better.
The Records Company is motivated and productive through all seasons and all kinds of weather, delivering the records you need so you can focus on feeling good all winter. Register through our online portal or contact us to get started and make records retrieval easier than you ever thought it could be.