“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Up here in Sweden the winter is dark, cold and often comes with a mix of rain and snow.
And spring is still far away.
It is not easy to keep the energy and optimism up like in the bright and warm summer days.
So today I'd like to share 7 habits I use that make it a lot easier to stay positive even throughout this dark and often grey season.
1. Find one of your biggest energy sucks.
Ask yourself: What is the biggest energy suck in my life right now?
You may for example find that it is a person in your life that is very negative.
Or that the report that you have been meaning to finish for a month now is dragging you down.
Then you follow that up with asking:
What is one thing I can do about this?
Maybe you decide that you want stop hanging out with that person. Or at least spend less of the time you have in a week with him or her and more of that time with the people that give you the most energy.
Perhaps you can just set off 5 minutes today to get started again with finishing your report.
For some energy sucks there might not be a simple solution. Or a solution at all, at least at this time.
Then you may want to find one of the lesser leaks in your life that you can actually do something about.
Take a few minutes or half an hour out of your day to plug just one of these biggest leaks and you'll have more energy to spend on what truly matters to you.
2. Be grateful for the small things and the things you may sometimes take for granted.
When I'm looking out the window over the dark and rainy landscape in the morning it is easy to forget about the things I actually have.
- A roof over my head and a warm home.
- Clean water.
- Three steady meals every day.
I have found that zooming out on my perspective like this helps out a lot to snap out of any kind of victim thinking and negativity.
3. Vitamin D supplements.
For the past few winters I've been taking Vitamin D supplements each day and I've found them to give back quite a bit of the energy I tend to lose during a long winter.
A few people close to me are also taking them and are reporting similar positive effects in varying degrees.
4. Go outside for 3-5 minutes first thing in the morning.
This is my favorite new and daily habit in the past year or so.
I first heard about it from the popular Huberman Lab Podcast by Andrew Huberman, a professor in neuroscience at Stanford University.
I've found that simply going out on our porch for 3-5 minutes in the morning first thing after the sun has come up – at around nine o'clock here in Sweden right now – helps me to truly wake up and feel much more alert and energetic during my day.
When I am out on the porch I just look out at the sky and the view for a few minutes. And as my eyes are exposed to the sunlight – even if it is a cloudy day – several processes are activated in my body that will help me to be more alert during the day but also help me to get better sleep (according to Huberman's podcast).
I haven't personally noticed much difference in my sleep but that one was already working pretty well for me.
5. A light-therapy lamp.
I've been using a light-therapy lamp for a handful of winters and it has had some pretty big effects (I have more energy and it makes it easier to keep the optimism up).
This winter and the last one I've not felt much need to use it as going outside for my morning light – as mentioned in the previous tip – has had such a big and positive effect.
An obvious but a very effective one.
Regular exercise – I lift weights twice a week and do a quick cardio routine twice a week too – will give you more energy. It will help you to release inner tensions, anxiety and stress.
And so it will be easier to stay relaxed, positive and to think clearly with less overthinking and to act decisively.
7. Take action and move forward.
Few things create so much frustration, worries and anxiety as sitting on your hands and doing nothing.
So even though it might be a little extra tough to get started or to keep going with your dreams and goals during this season remind yourself that if you do you will replace those feelings and thoughts above with optimism and self-confidence.
And remember that you do not have to go forward in big or quick leaps.
The most important thing is simply that you move forward. Even if it is by just taking one small or slow step after another.
Because those steps will quickly add up over the weeks even if they may not look so impressive in themselves.