4 things that boost my winter mood

20 Jan 2022
By Leah J., Student at Oxford Brookes University at

After having time to unwind with friends and family at the end of December, January always throws me off course.

I find it hard to find motivation to get back into the swing of things, and forcing a smile can be exhausting. However, over the years I’ve found four specific things that help me through winter - all of which I’ve shared below.

1. Clear space, clear mind

I am a nightmare for picking things up and putting it down in random places. I will leave my notes spread everywhere, and my bed stays messy hours after I wake up. But it’s true what they say - when your environment is organised and clear, your mind reflects this. Keeping a clean space helps me feel productive and motivated throughout the day.

I find this especially important when I take breaks away from work. If I go back and my room looks like a whirlwind has hit it, I feel overwhelmed to the point I’m not productive at all. But if I know I’m going back to a clear space, my mind feels lighter and it’s easier to carry on.

2. I make time for myself

In my head, after December, life travels at double speed. I always think of how much I want to improve about myself at the start of the New Year, over-promising on goals like daily journaling, reinventing my wardrobe, exercising more, and cooking better.

But I realised this year that these things won’t necessarily result in significant self-improvement. New clothes do not impact my life massively, and there was nothing really wrong with my meal plans before the New Year. So why am I pushing myself and rushing to change them?

Instead, I’m just making sure I find time to do leisurely activities I actually want to do. At work I read during my lunch hour, I won’t do research for university a few hours before bed, and I won’t delay a shower because I think there’s more important things to be doing.

3. Turn to nature

Although it’s freezing in the UK in January, nature is just as beautiful and motivating during the winter weather.

When I wake up, it’s hard to imagine myself outside when it is still dark and the windscreen needs to de-ice. But rather than sulking, I think about how relaxing the winter sky is. Dark doesn’t automatically mean misery; with it being dark for longer, it means I am more likely to see the sunrise and sunset. The cold weather means I am more likely to see fresh footprints in the snow. I get to see trees swaying in the wind and stretching out their branches.

Turning the negative connotations I have of winter into something more hopeful and positive helps keep my mood up.

4. Easy, short-term goals

I mentioned before that I tend to set myself so many big goals it becomes overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel a sense of accomplishment through easier, short-term goals - from walking 100 more steps than the day before to making sure I eat breakfast every day. It’s the little things!

While these tips seem fairly generic, I think it’s easy to forget how important they are. The seasons have a massive impact on our mood, so figuring out a few simple things you can do to help is not a waste of time. I’ve realised that university and work are not the only things in life I should be focusing on. Finding time for myself and admiring nature are things that definitely help boost my mood when winter hits.

If you’re feeling low, Student Minds offer free, confidential support via phone, email, text or webchat. You can also reach out to Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website samaritans.org.

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I'm a third year philosophy student at Oxford Brookes University.