Look, we’re British ok. We don’t like it too hot – ooh you know what I mean, above 30 they say it’ll be oh my that’s too hot – and we certainly don’t like it too cold. Our capital city is equipped for neither. The tube is always roasting, the heating often breaks and we never have adequate warm conditions. It’s just a bit of an all round fail isn’t it? I think when the dark nights and the bitter cold mornings seep in at this time of year, it’s always Feb that the snow hits, it can be so hard to stay productive and happy in whatever job it is you do. I tried a totally different approach this year, and I’d love to share some of my tips with you. I suffer badly from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and I was determined to not have a rough time of it this Jan like I have every other year.
Okay this might sound obvious but it’s not always easy to change your habits from the Summer to suddenly willingly going outside when all you want to do is stay inside because it’s freezing. If you can brave the cold, outside of your commute, try a short wintery walk near where you are. If you’re a serial lunch order-er, just pop out and pick up your lunch on foot rather than ordering or in the car. And if you work from home like me, honestly even just moving your desk to be underneath or next to the window will make the world of difference. Even though when it’s freezing this may seem really hard, making an effort to go outside when the sun is shining for me improves my mood vastly. It’s also such a nice reminder that the sunnier days aren’t too far away! It sounds so simple but it will help.
So I know tidying up is the phrase du jour at the minute thanks to Marie Kondo, but this time of year is actually great for decluttering. I think sometimes people leave clearing out their working space until Spring or until Summer even, as a fresh start – and that’s great, but sometimes working on clearing the space in January or February can really have such a great impact. I have been clearing my office out over the last two weeks and I’ve got rid of so much excess stuff. I now feel like I can work to my best, because I have the space to move about, create and work without worrying about moving a ton of clutter. If you haven’t cleaned out your desk at work and you keep putting it off, now might be the best time to do so, I think it will give you a new lease of creativity and help you get out of a winter funk if you’re feeling it in the cold weather.
Okay nothing makes me feel more unproductive than being absolutely freezing to the bone. In previous years I had neglected the need for proper warmth in favour of saving my money for other things, but a shift in your priorities might make you feel overall happier. Invest in some thermal clothes – god this has changed my life sorry to sound like your mum but wow, warmth is real – and perhaps a small heater you can turn on at intermittent times throughout the day in your office. I have my office at home, so running the little fan heater isn’t ideal as it costs a lot – however, you only need it on for a few minutes at a time to just completely warm up your sitting area and help you refocus on your work instead of worrying about how cold you are! The worst.
Nothing motivates me more to work than knowing I have something fun booked on the horizon. People might scoff at you for having a countdown clock to things you’re looking forward to, but I am ALL for it. A countdown clock doesn’t make time drag, it just reminds you that you have something really exciting coming up and the harder and better you work now, the better that fun thing will be. Of course you can plan a big holiday, but if money is worrisome, plan a small getaway or a staycation even near your city. Even just going to a different city or area of the UK is a lovely break and a nice getaway from work. If you can’t take the time for that, plan a concert or even a big night out with your friends and look forward to it. Having realistic goals for fun things in our diaries and in our minds helps us work toward something.
Our bodies struggle more in Winter, and we’re more prone to sickness. It’s a really good idea to keep on top of what you’re eating – that’s why things like Veganuary are a great idea because it forces you to have a health kick. Just cutting down on sugary drinks or treats can really help the body from feeling sluggish and tired more often in this dark, cold weather. Eating a balanced diet has done wonders for me in my life in general but no where have I felt it more than the winter times – and I really notice even more when I eat bad because my body takes twice as long to recover. Also by taking vitamins and generally looking after yourself – going to the gym or doing yoga or whatever your exercise of choice is – you’re less likely to catch a nasty bug if your immune system is stronger and not weak.
So there we go there’s just a few things I did in the month of January to combat my SAD, and I’m feeling really great. I previously have had horrible January times where I’ve cried or not felt like I could leave the house and generally felt awful, but this year I was determined to change and it’s really made a difference. I’m feeling so much better and ready to face February. Let me know what you think in the comments and if you do any of these things, or if you may change your lifestyle a bit to adapt to cold weather!