I know that title is really lame but roll with it. If you’re not someone who finds it more difficult to be motivated or be productive in the winter – I commend you, and I’m also very jealous. There’s something about the combination of the cold, the difficulty of getting around, and what feels like almost constant darkness that makes winter so ridiculously unbearable sometimes. The past few months have been rough on me for a few reasons, and the weather is definitely not helping. I’ve had no energy, have been sleeping either too much or not at all, and have been really unproductive. Recently though, I’ve been trying to do a few little things here and there that have really been helping to lift my mood, motivate me, and generally make me feel a lot happier. If you struggle with the winter blues, I hope some of these simple but effective tips will help you like they’ve helped me.
1. If it’s sunny out – take advantage.
Nice days don’t come around very often mid-February in Montreal, so you have to make the most of it. When the weather is nice (and by nice I mean like -4 instead of -20), my first instinct is to avoid being home. Watching the sunset on a nice day, or the sunrise which would probably be better but I can’t vouch for that since I am never happy that early in the morning, is an instant mood-lifter*. The best views are obviously around Mount-Royal, and we got this bomb ass view from atop of St. Joseph’s Oratory.
I think I enjoyed observing tourists take a million pictures from really unflattering angles to get the Oratory in the background more than watching the sunset though.
* I highly recommend listening to T.J. Miller’s take on how no one’s ever been mad looking at a sunset on Pete Holmes’ You Made it Weird podcast.
2. Take a drive.
Or a run, if that’s your thing and it’s not too cold out. If you know me, you know that I love driving. Blasting good music and driving around is a really good stress-reliever for me, and being outside, rolling the windows down and letting in some fresh air is a definite plus and somehow makes me feel happy to be alive? I can’t explain it, but it works. Here’s the playlist I’ve currently been obsessed with if I’m in need of a pick-me-up, if it doesn’t make you feel even a little bit happy then I’m sorry I don’t know how to help you and I think you might need medical attention. I’m kidding, but really who can be sad listening to Stevie Wonder and James Brown?
3. Plan out your week
I have my agenda with me at all times, and I don’t think I could live without it. If you’re not big on handwritten organizing, then feel free to use a calendar app on your phone or computer (I use all three because I am a crazy person). Planning out your week helps you feel less stressed about all the things you have to do, and even if you don’t stick to it exactly, it still gives you a good idea of what you need to get done and when, so you’re saving future you from being too overwhelmed. Another thing I love to do is to put down any future plans or events – vacations, spring break, concerts, birthdays – so you can look at your planner and see all the fun things you have to look forward to if the present seems pretty bleak.
4. Get in some puppy therapy
Woah, I like dogs? I know, it’s probably a big shock because I’m like really subtle about it. Really though, if I’m having a particularly bad day, playing fetch with my dog for a bit or taking her for a walk drastically improves my mood. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one from a friend I guess? I’m sorry, this one isn’t very helpful I just really love dogs and nothing makes me happier than coming home to a wagging tail and puppy eyes.
5. Exercice more
Don’t hate me. I’ve been trying to get moving every day (even if it’s just a bit of cardio for like 20 minutes) and it’s really made me feel a lot better. You don’t have to have a specific goal in mind or make it part of a bigger fitness regimen – right now, all I was looking to do was boost my energy levels and feel more motivated, and it’s definitely been working.
6. Go out for a good meal
I decided to hit up Restaurant L’Avenue this weekend – which has never disappointed. It’s in the Plateau and I think it’s definitely become a tourist spot. If you’ve never been, you’ve probably seen pictures of their bathroom somewhere on your social media feeds, which is not something you’d expect to say about a brunch place. The décor is really eclectic and bright, and the bathroom is blacklit with graffiti and designs all over the walls (and this very creepy clock that makes it feel like someone is perpetually watching you – so fun?). In the past I’ve had their French toast (which is great but GIGANTIC), but this time I ordered their Huevos Rancheros and it was definitely my favorite thing I’ve had from the menu. It’s topped with black beans, guacamole, salsa, and cheese, and was a really bright, flavorful dish to start the day. By “start the day” I mean it was 2 PM and I had woken up like 3 hours before, but IT WAS SATURDAY GIVE ME A BREAK.
7. Make a meal at home
Basically what I’m saying is that food is always the answer. Seriously though, the accomplished feeling you get when you make something for yourself (or others) to enjoy just makes you feel good. Pro-tip: make extra, so you have leftovers throughout the week if the rest of my tips didn’t help you and you’re still feeling lazy and unproductive- heat that shit up in the microwave and you’re set.
8. Clean your room
Like I’m planning on doing right after I publish this post. Even though the thought of cleaning isn’t the most exciting, I think you need to love the space you’re in, and for me that means getting rid of clutter and anything you can look at that makes you even remotely dissatisfied. Even some simple reorganizing or moving around a few items in your room can change the whole look of your space and can help you feel more productive and happy. Dust, vacuum, declutter, change your sheets – I promise you’ll feel better.
I hope some of these tips are helpful! They seem simple and fairly obvious, but I think we often forget to take some time for ourselves when we’re stressed out or feeling down – so take some time to give yourself a little pick-me-up, you deserve it.