If you live at the far edges of the world like me you probably experience long, gloomy days for many months of the year, and we know how depressing it can get being locked inside to protect yourself from the elements. This is especially crucial now, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In these regions of the globe, people are highly susceptible to the aptly named Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD for short, sometimes also referred to as winter depression. This is a form of depression, which follows a seasonal pattern. This stems from a prolonged lack of sunlight, as well as, short days, and early sunsets.
But it doesn't have to be this way, there are remedies which we can implement, which can alleviate its symptoms, or even remove them altogether. Hence, I'll give you a short life of activities I came up with, which you can do to combat SAD.
Quality, daily exercise helps improve overall mood by promoting dopamine and serotonin release, it improves the ability to sleep, which, in turn, means more energy, and less stress. Speaking of less stress, exercise also reduces the body's level of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Moreover, exercise is also a "quick fix" to mood improvement. The positive effects of exercise can be felt at the end of your first workout, even if that is a 20 minute jog on the treadmill. I will talk more about this later in the article, but I believe exercise to be essential in keeping up motivation and not succumbing to stress and fatigue. Ironic isn't it?
2. Fresh air
In the last article, I talk about the benefits of fresh air. The list of positive effects is incredibly long. Ranging from energy-boosting to improving physical health by making you less prone to sickness. However, not all of us have access to clean air right away, but more than likely there is a place near you where you can find yourself immersed in nature, or at least away from smog.
For those that have fresh air right outside the house, like in Canada, taking a quick 10 minute walk around the block can help boost your mood, and motivation, as well as clear your head, giving you, quite literally, a fresh start to the task you're doing, or about to do.
3. Motivational videos
But sometimes even after you do the things you're supposed to do to maximize your energy and motivation, the dark gloom of the days still manages to win you over. When you have nothing else to do that can help you what more can you do? Well, in those times what we need are "quick fixes". Things that get our motivation back up right away. Like a coffee for motivation.
What really helps me, and might help you, is putting on a motivational video, one of those hundreds of thousands of compilations of motivational speakers shouting in the mic with some badass epic music in the background. You know what I'm talking about. They're like on-demand super pep talks to get you back up and running again!
4. Fast 30 second workout
Another thing that works very well is a super-fast 30 second workout. Do 10 super fast pushups, or 10 jumping jacks, run in place for 5 seconds. Anything that gets your heart pumping!
Usually, when motivation goes right out the door, it is followed by a feeling of tiredness. Getting blood to circulate through your system is a surefire way to wake your body back up and get on the run again (pun intended).
At this point, the more critical thinkers among you are probably wondering why there's more. Why didn't I just stop at motivational videos, or just at the 30 second workout? Well, see, your body is incredibly well adapted to... adaptation. You can't keep doing the same thing over and over and expect the same results. Therefore, it's good to have a varied arsenal. Recently, in fact, I posted a story on my Instagram asking what my followers do to motivate themselves because, admittedly, even I get overwhelmed by the constant gloom.
One of them told me that music works really well for her! Putting on some powerful music and singing along like a badass can enhance your perceptions of you, or heighten your mood, giving you more energy, and therefore more motivation.
6. Vision Blast
Another response that I got was giving yourself a "Vision Blast"! What's that you ask? Probably exactly what it sounds like! Reconnect with why you're doing what you're doing. See yourself in the future when you have achieved what you need to and all the great things that will come with it! Literally, blast your mind with visions of the future.
This works for the same principle that envisioning works. And also, I don't know about you, but seeing myself having succeeded makes me want to get there even faster. Ah! That is the motivation we need.
7. Check off your tasks
Motivation often falls off when the tasks ahead of you seem unsurmountable. When there is just so much to do that you don't want to do any of it. You say "I'll start tomorrow morning", and then the morning comes and you say "I didn't sleep that well, I'll start this afternoon" and so on, so on.
But by breaking down big tasks into smaller tasks you can start checking off pieces of your projects. The visual aspect of seeing your tasks getting completed gives you an instant gratification element, which is a great dopamine booster and motivation replenisher. This also works retroactively. Check off the tasks you already did today, you'll quickly notice a "Hell yeah!" feeling starts to overcome you!
. . .
Motivation is extremely variable, it depends on you as much as it depends on outside factors. When winter comes and days get ugly for weeks at a time it's easy to become perpetually tired and unmotivated. Luckily, there are long-term fixes, and when they fail too, there are quick solutions to getting motivated again. Really anything that gets your blood flowing, whether it's running in place for 30 seconds or jamming out to some feel-good music, can boost your motivation enough to get you through those long and draining tasks.
Hi, I'm Matthew, my mission is to spread knowledge about motivation, productivity, and enabling people to achieve the best that they can be! I have a vast background in psychology and a passion for self-improvement. I literally can't remember a time when I didn't have a psychology book in my hands. On top of that, I've traveled around the world from a very young age, and seen many different courses of life, forming friendships with highly successful people, as well as people who are willing to do anything to make ends meet. My own life took me down a roller coaster of highs and lows, and I'm forever grateful that I've been able to overcome everything it threw at me. Now I want to take the opportunity to give back, and help others learn tools and methods for becoming who they were born to be!