The holidays are over, the weather’s cold (at least for much of the country), sunlight hours are few and far between, and spring break seems like a LONG way away. Put all these factors together and it’s a perfect recipe for a bad case of the mid-winter blues- a state of general blahness that can leave you feeling less-than-motivated and can make doing even the simplest of tasks challenging. After all…how are you supposed to have the energy to plan for summer internships or work on your personal goals when you’re in human-state of hibernation?
The key is to be proactive and tackle the mid-winter blues head-on. It’s not as hard as you might think – it just takes a little planning. Here are some ideas:
ONE: Maintain Good Exercise & Nutrition: The combo of indulging in too many leftover holiday treats, frigid outdoor temps, and few hours of sunlight can result in a whole lotta feeling sluggish and reluctant to bundle up to get out and exercise. We get it…eating well and exercising isn’t half as attractive as curling up under a fleece blanket and drinking hot chocolate. But the payoff – in the form of feel-good endorphins and all-around emotional and mental well-being – is well worth the effort. Even getting your blood pumping by doing things like jumping rope, push-ups, jumping jacks, and simple weights for 20 minutes a day can give you these positive side-effects.
TWO: Pick a Goal to Work Towards: Working towards a big goal can keep you focused and feeling good as you take little steps each day to edge you closer towards your hopeful outcome. Write a list of juicy goals that you’d love to conquer and pick the juiciest – something you’d like to have completed the time summer rolls around. Then break your goal down into the tiniest steps possible – so small you could do one step each day without blinking. Knowing you’re working towards something will give you a sense of purpose that will help in all aspects of your life. Check out our article on goal setting for more tips.
THREE: Stay Social: Hibernation is generally speaking a solo sport, so buck the trend and make plans with your friends that get you out of the house. Now’s the time to go out to the movies, go shopping, go skiing…whatever…with others. Being social gets you out of your head and into life, brings more laughter into your world (again…those feel-good endorphins), and keeps things in perspective.
FOUR: Indulge in Creature Comforts: Remember how we said to choose exercise over getting cozy and sipping on sweet warm beverages? Well, in reality, you can do both. Doing things that feel physically and mentally indulgent – going to a spa to soak in a hot-tub or sit in the sauna, buying a pair of super-soft cozy socks and fleece sweat pants to lounge around in, setting aside time to do things that make you feel plain ol’ happy – reading a favorite book, blaring your favorite tunes, etc. – can all go a long way in boosting your spirits. Suggestion: tie in your creature comforts with your exercise or other goals – when you’ve accomplished X (goal or task) for that day, you get Y (creature comfort) as a reward.
FIVE: Get a Happy Lamp: If you get seriously blue in the winter months or you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (a genuine mood disorder that causes depression in the winter months), consider getting a “happy lamp” or a special lamp specifically designed to mimic the benefits of exposure to daylight and sun and therefore give your brain the related positive side-effects of such exposure.
SIX: Visualize: Dreaming of warm summer breezes, hot sand between your toes, and listening to the sound of crashing waves while you lie on a beach chair catching some serious UV rays? Going on a vacation in your mind can actually result in real changes in your brain chemistry. Spend five or ten minutes a day visualizing your getaway and imagine the physical sensations, sounds, tastes, smells, and sights. You’ll be guaranteed to experience a mental boost that can put a smile on your face. Repeat as necessary!
What are your tips for getting through the mid-winter blues?
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