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.
First, why do so many of us fall into this winter 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.
This is not just because we are upset about the shorter days or the cold nights but because 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 may still be 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 coved from head to toe to stay warm. 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.
With all of these internal factors there is also the psychological factors that make things harder like reduced exposure to natural light can cause feelings of sadness and make one withdrawn. Over our bodies and minds seem to turn against our goals at this time.
Along with out change in 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.
Two, find good workouts that you can do on low energy and potentially even from home. Plan accordingly to set yourself up for success. With that set up realistic goals for this time of year, having too large of goals often takes away ones little motivation and determination and leads them to spiral. Give yourself grace to understand that this time of the year is different but you need to keep moving for yourself.
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 is included in exercise and nutrition. By focusing on these and in groups you will have an easier time navigating this change in motivation.
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 motivated as possible. Find your people, keep going, work hard, and lets all keep growing into the best version of ourselves.