Ever woken up on a cold winter day feeling down or wanting to curl up and sleep? It wasn’t until we moved into our house that I realized how much I’m affected by sunlight. The back of our house is almost entirely windows, so you can imagine how much natural light flows in! I wake up feeling lighter and happier because of it. While I’m lucky to have some natural light year-round now, there’s definitely not as much in winter and I’m feeling the effects.
We’ve had a string of short, cold days here in Raleigh, and it’s had me thinking about what I can do to ensure my mood stays elevated. While I can’t control the weather, I’ve made a few small changes to give myself the extra boost I need. Below I’m sharing the small efforts I’ve made that’ve had a great impact on my mood this winter.
1. Rise with the Sun
Although the shortest day of winter is behind us, the sun is still rising late and setting early. Instead of waking at 6am when it’s still dark out, I set my alarm clock app to 7am (when the sun is rising). Even though I sleep an hour longer, it’s easier to get going when it’s light outside. My routine is to brush my teeth, throw on slippers and a sweatshirt, make coffee, and then step onto patio for a breath of cold, fresh air and to watch the sun rise. Being in nature is the best way to start the day!
2. Take Vitamin D & Eat Well
Did you know that sunlight increases our serotonin levels? Studies show that up to 40% of Americans have low levels of Vitamin D. Since there’s a notable lack of sunlight in winter, I take a high-quality supplement to get my share. I’m also careful to watch my intake this time of year. Try keeping a water bottle on hand at all times and check out this list of mood boosting foods for some meal ideas. Dark chocolate is on the list!
3. Get Moving
I’ve had the lowest motivation to exercise this month than I’ve had in the past 2-3 years combined. The darkness, the cold, and my busy schedule has me feeling lethargic. However, the less I move, the worse I feel. Our bodies are meant to move! My apple watch activity tracker keeps me accountable. If you’re feeling especially unmotivated like me, try switching things up: try a new exercise class that sounds fun, ask a friend to a workout, buy a cozy workout top, attend hot yoga on a cold day, or simply take your pet on a bundled up walk.
4. Write Down Your Gratitudes & Wins
Every morning, write down 10 things you’re grateful for and 3 wins you’re proud of (both from the previous day) in your journal. Try to write something different each day and be detailed. You’ll be amazed at how it shifts your mood! I’ve been incorporating this for about 6 months now and have been blown away by how it can take me from a place of stress, overwhelm, or general lowness to feeling motivated, purposeful, and encouraged.
5. Plan a Warm Weather Getaway
Ironically, we’re headed to Europe soon where it will be even colder, but next on our docket is a trip somewhere sunny. Valentine’s Day could be a fun time to get away with your loved one, and March is ideal for a spring break. Some places we’ve been and recommend for a spring getaway are Rosemary Beach, Florida, the Florida Keys, San Jose del Cabo in Mexico, and Healdsburg, California.
6. Make a Hometown Bucket List
One of the best ways to get out of a funk is to schedule more recreation and fun. It’s easy to make a bucket list for spring, summer, and fall, when the weather is warm and outdoor activities are abundant. You can make a bucket list for winter, too, you just have to be creative! Try that new coffee shop, ask that potential friend to spend time with you, go to a cozy cocktail bar, take your pup to the dog park, host a game night or a bonfire, or sign up for a winter sports team. Become a hometown tourist!