5 Ways to Stay Motivated During Winter
As the days get colder, shorter and darker (sob), often our first reaction is to chill in front of the tv, rather than smashing through our to-do list or making plans.
Now we’re not saying it’s not okay to get cosy on a Sunday afternoon and have a Netflix marathon, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel and put your goals and plans on the wayside over the winter months.
We at FFF have come up with our top tips to keep you smiling and motivated throughout the season. Tis the season to be jolly after all!
Regular exercise has a wealth of benefits on health factors such as bone (1, 2) and cardiovascular health (3).
There is also evidence to suggest it can be effective in improving the mental well-being of the general public, largely through improved mood and self-perceptions (4) and also via reduced stress, anxiety and depression (5). Aerobic exercise in particular has been linked to alleviating mood symptoms (6). Think of it this way, you may not be smiling during a 6am spin class, but you’ll be pleased you got up and went and you’ll leave with a spring in your step, ready to face the day.
When it comes to exercise, try to give yourself some specific targets to aim for. Targets are great to keep you focussed on the end goal. They could be things like running 5km without stopping or going to a spin class once per week.
Being able to work towards and reach said targets will keep your spirits up and give you the motivation you need to keep going!
The change in weather is also a great excuse to switch up your training and even treat yourself to some new workout gear!
2) Get out and socialise
Social interactions seem to be far easier to arrange in the summer months, when you don’t have to think about how many layers you’re going to have to put on or whether your hair is going to get ruined by the rain.
However, research has found links between feeling connected to a group / participating in social activities and happiness and overall satisfaction with life (7,8).
Therefore, it may take a little more planning, but having things to look forward to and enjoy is guaranteed to keep you smiling throughout the winter season.
3) Adjust your food choices
At the end of a long hectic day at work, often the last thing you feel like doing is preparing a meal from scratch. At this point, you may find yourself searching your freezer for a ready meal or a takeaway as a quick, fuss-free option. Salads just don’t have the same appeal as they do in the summer, but this isn’t an excuse to alter the quality of your diet.
Without careful planning and selection, these meals can be very calorie dense (provide a high amount of calories, without much volume), laden with salt, fat and sugar or simply just don’t really satiate you (make you feel full) afterwards, meaning you may feel sluggish and you may be more likely to reach for snacks you may not need.
Make the most of the cold weather and opt for hearty meals packed with nutritious, seasonal veggies such as carrots, parsnips, swede and butternut squash. It’s also a good time to brush up on your meal prep skills!
4) Support your immune system
During the winter months, you tend to be more prone to things like cold and flu – which will undoubtedly put you in a bad mood and impact your motivation.
As a result, it is really important to focus on diet quality and in particular plenty of fruit and veg, to ensure you get the nutrients needed to support the normal functioning of your immune system. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12.
5) Get some vitamin D
Vitamin D, the “Sunshine vitamin”, is a vitamin we mainly get via sunlight exposure on our skin, but can also be found in a small number of foods such as:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods
It regulates the synthesis of serotonin – the ‘happy’ hormone (9) and so (aside from its numerous other health benefits), is an important consideration.
The days are longer and darker and so therefore it seems pretty common to feel more irritable, down and lacking in motivation, especially if you’re leaving for work in the morning and getting out in the dark!
Interestingly, research has linked bright light therapy with improved mood over time (10). However, winter sunshine in the UK is usually pretty limited and so a supplement is typically advised for everyone, particularly between October – March (in the UK) (11).
Try to focus on these areas of your day to day life over the coming weeks, as we transition into winter to keep motivation levels up!
Keeping your FFF deliveries coming is a great way to free up time to smash your goals and give you quality time for yourself and your wellbeing. This is a sure-fire way to stay motivated this winter. Also, I may be biased, but the sight of the little black bag outside your door each day is sure to put a smile on your face!
Fresh Fitness Food provides personalised meal plans delivered straight to your door, ensuring not only that you have the nutrients you need to manage your stress levels, but also that you have the time usually spent shopping, cooking and washing up, to engage in your favourite stress-reducing activity. To discuss which nutrition plan is right for you, book a call with our in-house nutrition team here.
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- Kemmler, W., 2010. Exercise Effects on Bone Mineral Density, Falls, Coronary Risk Factors, and Health Care Costs in Older Women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170(2), p.179.
- Martyn-St James, M. and Carroll, S., 2009. Effects of different impact exercise modalities on bone mineral density in premenopausal women: a meta-analysis. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, 28(3), pp.251-267.
- Nystoriak, M. and Bhatnagar, A., 2018. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, 5.
- Fox, K., 1999. The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition, 2(3a), pp.411-418.
- Warburton, D., Gledhill, N. and Quinney, A., 2001. The Effects of Changes in Musculoskeletal Fitness on Health. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, 26(2), pp.161-216.
- Lin, K., Stubbs, B., Zou, W., Zheng, W., Lu, W., Gao, Y., Chen, K., Wang, S., Liu, J., Huang, Y., Guan, L., Wong, M., Wang, R., Lam, B. and Xu, G., 2020. Aerobic exercise impacts the anterior cingulate cortex in adolescents with subthreshold mood syndromes: a randomized controlled trial study. Translational Psychiatry, 10(1).
- Pressman, S., Matthews, K., Cohen, S., Martire, L., Scheier, M., Baum, A. and Schulz, R., 2009. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(7), pp.725-732.
- Amati, V., Meggiolaro, S., Rivellini, G. and Zaccarin, S., 2018. Social relations and life satisfaction: the role of friends. Genus, 74(1).
- Patrick, R. and Ames, B., 2015. Vitamin D and the omega‐3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action, part 2: relevance for ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and impulsive behavior. The FASEB Journal, 29(6), pp.2207-2222.
- Veleva, B., van Bezooijen, R., Chel, V., Numans, M. and Caljouw, M., 2018. Effect of ultraviolet light on mood, depressive disorders and well-being. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, 34(5), pp.288-297.
- GOV.UK. 2021. PHE publishes new advice on vitamin D. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-new-advice-on-vitamin-d> [Accessed 20 October 2021].