This winter in Kansas City has been absolutely CRAZY. The school where I teach has officially used all our snow days, and at this rate, we'll be going to school in June. *sigh*
The days have been colder and darker than usual, and getting back into the swing of things both at school with my students and keeping a consistent routine at home after the holiday break hasn't been easy. Let's face it: winter is just plain difficult! It's hard to feel engaged in anything when all you want to do is stay at home and sleep under a blanket.
Unfortunately, life doesn't give us any breaks, so we're left to tough it out through the winter until spring shows its beautiful face again. Still, it's normal to feel the winter blues, and it can be hard to stick it out throughout the cold months. If you're feeling isolated, worn-out, or unmotivated, here are some ways to recharge and renew your inspiration during the winter months.
Pursue Opportunities for Inspiration
Does the cold weather have you feeling lethargic about nearly everything? Seek out opportunities that will make you feel inspired and excited about your passions. If you feel like you're losing motivation professionally, it may be a good time to seek out a class, networking opportunity, or workshop that has you practicing your craft and learning new insights from other professionals in your field. For all my educators out there, this might be the perfect time for you to take that professional day and head to a workshop for some fresh ideas and perspectives on how to teach your subject. It may also be the perfect time for team-building activities that inspire employees to collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other. One of those most effective and simple ways to pursue inspiration is to spend time reading in personal devotions and books on personal development.
Mix Up Your Exercise Routine
For those of you with a regular exercise routine, this might be a great time of year to mix it up and try something new, as the new year has just recently begun. If you feel like your current routine has you stuck in monotony, try a group fitness class or another form of exercise that might renew your interest. If you haven't yet established a routine, exercise might be a great way to warm up and feel energized again. Plus, the post-workout endorphins that kick in will make you feel proud and confident of the progress you're making - a sure way to kick the winter blues!
Fill Your Cup
No, not with more coffee! (Well, maybe...) Make a list of things that make you feel joy, and schedule time to actually do those things. Yes, life is crazy busy, but your mental clarity and emotional stability is just as important as your schedule. For me, the things that fill my cup are creative activities like music-making and writing, and I try to take a few moments each day for these cathartic outlets. Maybe you're just exhausted, and some alone/relaxation time is what you need to re-group. Often I feel overwhelmed by the pressures of building a platform on social media, and other times I get so flooded at work that when I get home, all I want to do to decompress is binge-watch Netflix until bedtime. And while these things are okay in moderation, they can also eclipse your passions and stunt your personal growth. Pinpoint the things that make you feel most authentically you and nurture them.
One way I've tried to lift my spirits this winter is incorporating natural scents that are proven to improve mood. My favorite essential oils for aromatherapy are lemon, eucalyptus, and peppermint. These scents are shown to evoke joy, relieve stress, awaken the senses, and boost energy. Some body lotions contain these natural scents, but you can also diffuse them in an essential oil diffuser to spread the scent throughout the room. You'll be amazed at how effectively this holistic method of healing can boost your mood and productivity.
Confide in Someone
Social gatherings almost seem like a burden at this time of year, because no one really wants to leave the house. I am the ultimate homebody and an introvert, so this is an area where I really struggle. That said, if you're feeling down, unmotivated, or isolated, social interactions with people that you can confide in can be the best medicine for your winter blues. You might be surprised that you're not alone in these feelings, and that others may be experiencing the same struggles you are. There is strength in relating to others, and together, you can lift each other up and motivate each other to persevere through the challenges.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Know the Difference
It's important to note that while most of us have experienced some form of tiredness and worsening mood during the winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder is more serious and can be debilitating for those who suffer from SAD. If your "winter blues" are preventing you from moving forward with normal, daily tasks, you should see a health care professional for additional insight.