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How to Stay Motivated this Winter Season

As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, many of us find it increasingly challenging to stay motivated and active during the colder months of the year. The allure of cozy blankets, warm drinks, and Netflix marathons often trumps our desire to hit the gym or go for a run. But have you ever wondered why this winter slump happens and what you can do to combat it effectively? Let's take a look into the factors behind the decline in motivation during the colder months and provide practical strategies to help you stay active, healthy, and motivated all year round.

Street covered in snow with buildings in the background

To begin, we need to look into why so many of us fall into this slump. There is actually a term behind it called Seasonal Affective Disorder or as some of us may call it seasonal depression. When entering into a time with less sun light and colder temperatures it brings out the symptoms of SAD and can put a lot of us in large slumps. Even though this effects us mentally it actually come from a physical effect as well.

We are not just mentally upset about the shorter days or the cold nights but our circadian rhythm actually changes to match up with the shorter days. We release more melatonin and so if we normally workout in the early morning or late afternoon the sun may be nowhere to be found and your internal clock is reaching for sleep. This can push us to stay in bed and not partake in our normal routines.

Along with the shorter days many of us will also run into the problem of Vitamin D deficiency because we will be covered head to toe to stay warm and avoiding going outside as much as we can. Vitamin D deficiencies are correlated directly to low energy levels. This means that we are getting hit with less energy and more melatonin setting us up to have much less motivation in our lives.

But SAD is not created with only these physical symptoms. Less light effects us mentally as reduced light exposure is known to cause sadness leaving one withdrawn. This means that we are not going out of our way to hang out with friends or do other things that can bring out energy levels up. These seasons end up turning us against our goals and towards our beds.

All of these symptoms from the winter season along with the change in your routine during the holidays (see blog on how to keep your goals while enjoying the holidays: here) motivation is few and far between and often the reason people "start over" in the New Year. So, how can we work against this to stay active and awake.

One, if light is a big thing for you it may be worth it to look into getting a light box. This is a little box that emits light with as little UV rays as possible and is said to help trick your mind out of how dark it really is outside. Over head floresent lights alert our mind to it being artificial light and it will not only not make you more awake but can often strain our eyes and make you more tired. If you are also able to work near windows during the day to help get more natural light can help brighten your mood.

Two, find good workouts that you can do on low energy and potentially even from home. Plan accordingly to set yourself up for success to keep you going. Having unrealistic goals for this time of year often leads to missing out on goals and ending up giving up entirely. Give yourself grace to understand that this time of the year is different but you need to keep moving for yourself. The more you do the more your body will be able to put out in the future.

Sidewalk covered in snow with more snow piled on the side and a line of stores to the right side

Three, find friends who are going to keep you accountable during this time. If you feel you cannot rely on yourself find others who will hold you to your goals. Being around others will also help bring up your energy and lift your spirits over all. This will also help you not become withdrawn and lead to a more positve and energetic mindset.

Finally, find a winter sport(s) you can do for fun. There are many things we cannot do year round that we can do in the winter, skiing, sledding, ice skating, etc. Find something you know you can enjoy that is active and make the most of it!

For a lot of us the colder months make everything so much more difficult but we need to remember that spring is only around the corner and we have tools to remain as happy and energized as possible. Find your people, hold yourself accountable, work hard, and lets all keep growing into the best version of ourselves.


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