At this point in the winter, the holiday glow has faded and you’re once again hustling full force back at the office. But with the shorter, colder, grayer days, it’s getting harder to shake the low, lethargic feeling following you around.
If during the winter months you feel irritable, moody, or depressed, you may be part of the 20% of the population who deals with the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
And there’s a good reason for your sluggishness: The lack of daylight throws off our circadian rhythm, and when the body’s “master clock” gets out of whack, our brain doesn’t receive signals to be active and focused. Instead, it gets sleep and looks for temporary energy fixes through snacks, caffeine, and alcohol.
When you’re in the midst of a winter slump, it can feel like a case of the Mondays on repeat. We all know that when you’re not feeling your best, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and fitting in exercise are tantamount to boosting your mood, but there are plenty of other small tweaks you can make to hack your happiness and bust through the winter blues.
If you’re feeling totally uninspired with the weather right now, try these simple and quick ways to inject a boost of energy into your day and turn your winter slump around:
1. Put effort into getting dressed for work.
When it’s freezing outside and you can’t imagine moving from your warm bed to the bathroom in the morning, getting dressed to the nines for the office is usually the last thing you want to do. You crave the softest, snuggliest, coziest clothes imaginable, and while this does have a self-soothing effect that may comfort you, opting for frumpier frocks can negatively impact and dampen your mood. In fact, studies have shown a connection between dressing up in your favorite clothes and daily happiness levels. What you wear affects how you feel, so during the winter months try not to cut corners on your daily beauty or fashion routine.
2. Try a negativity detox.
When were feeling depressed, we have the tendency to ruminate and fixate on negative thoughts. Maybe you review mistakes you made over and over or find yourself incessantly focusing on everything you don’t like about your job. One of the best ways to get off the negativity train is by nixing the 4 toxic C’s: comparison, competition, criticizing, and complaining. Any time you feel yourself engaging in one of these unhealthy behaviors, redirect your energy. For example, if you’re beating yourself up about a glaring typo you made on an important report for the CEO, move from a place of self-criticism to self-compassion by asking yourself what you can learn from the experience (rather than focusing on your faults). Maybe you’ll realize you’re overwhelmed and a need a mental health day, or perhaps you can enlist the help of your work BFF to act as a second set of eyes and proofread things for you. When you shift from a destructive to a constructive mindset, you may be pleasantly surprised by all the subtle–yet impactful–changes you’ll experience.
3. Bookend your days.
There’s no question that a powerful morning routine can set a positive tone for a highly energized and upbeat day. Some of the world’s most successful people attribute their massive productivity to morning rituals like a daily meditation practice, keeping a gratitude journal, or working in peace for an hour at the start of the day before checking email. Find what works for you, but aim to create a ritual that not only excites and motivates you, but that also provides structure and purpose to the first 1-2 hours of your morning. The same goes for your evenings: Create a nighttime ritual that helps you wind down and clear your head, such as banning electronic devices after 10 p.m. or jotting down your top priorities for the next day. Want to give your work-life balance a much-needed boost? Schedule after-hours activities so you have a reason to avoid procrastination and leave the office on time. Since natural sunlight isn’t regulating your cycles, it’s up to you to put in place structure yourself.
In the end it’s all about perspective. In time your winter funk will pass, so when you find yourself feeling stuck, remember these words from author Regina Brett, “No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments.” Keep in mind these strategies and you’ll be well on your way to brighter days.
//This post originally appeared on Levo League.