As the days grow shorter, darker, and colder, it can be difficult to stay productive and concentrate on work. This is especially true for those working from home. With no boss in sight and your couch just a few feet away, there’s not much stopping you from curling up and going right back to sleep.
However, if you want to maintain motivation and boost your mood, revamping your home office and adopting a few healthy habits may help.
1. Take a walk
When it’s cold and dreary, the last thing you probably want to do is trudge outside for a walk. However, getting some fresh air can do wonders for your productivity and mood, so a brisk afternoon stroll is certainly worth a try.
Explore a nearby park or walk around the neighborhood during your break to boost energy levels, reduce stress, and give your brain some time to rest and reset. Odds are good you’ll return to work feeling refreshed and ready to type.
2. Switch up your setup
Sometimes, a change of scenery is all you need to overcome the winter blues and crank out some work. Move your desk or your entire workspace to a different part of the house, preferably close to a window. Taking your laptop to a local coffee shop is another great way to switch your setup. It’s amazing what some good conversation can do for your mental health and productivity levels.
3. Use a sun lamp
A lack of sun exposure can disrupt your sleep cycle and negatively impact your mood and energy level during the winter months. Some people may even develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that’s associated with late autumn and winter.
In this case, a sun lamp may help. This UV-free light can help your body regulate melatonin and serotonin to help regulate your mood. Use it for 30 minutes every morning and you’ll likely see an improvement within two to four days.
4. Set an optimal temperature
It’s important to make sure your office space has a temperature you’re comfortable with. You don’t want to have to don a blanket or robe while working only to need to remove it quickly for a video meeting.
To save money on energy bills, it’s recommended to keep the temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if your workspace faces the sun most of the day, it could be more beneficial to set the temperature lower while you’re working. Alternatively, if you’re in the basement, setting the thermostat slightly higher would be helpful since basements are typically cooler.
5. Buy some more plants
As if you needed a reason to buy more plants, filling your home office with greenery can do wonders for your well-being. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving air quality, plants have become more than decor in the work-from-home era.
The calming influence from a semi-natural environment can also enhance cognitive skills, improve memory, and facilitate creative thinking, all of which can help you perform better and feel happier.
6. Go nocturnal
If your employer allows you to have a flexible schedule, try going nocturnal. Switch to working a night shift or splitting your workday between early morning and late evening. This way, you have midday free time to enjoy the great outdoors or lunch dates with friends.
Even swapping an hour or two of daytime work for a short evening session can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
7. Turn up the tunes
Can’t seem to concentrate? Put your headphones on and turn up the tunes. Drown out whiny children, barking dogs, and other household distractions with some background music. Choose a playlist or genre you’re familiar with or opt for instrumentals so you can focus on the task at hand. Otherwise, the lyrics and rhythm can be just as distracting as texting or tweeting.
8. Stock up on tea
There’s nothing quite like a hot cup of tea on a cold winter’s day. A single sip can warm your soul, even if your home office is a little cold, which is why stocking up on tea is one of the best winter home tips out there.
Want a simultaneous brain-body boost? Choose a caffeinated green tea. This kind is loaded with antioxidants that can improve brain function. Plus, it serves as a great midday pick-me-up when you’re running low on energy.
9. Feed your mind
No matter where you work, using your creative energies can lead to exhaustion and burnout, especially during the bleak winter months. After so much output, you need some input.
Fuel your mind and replenish your creativity with podcasts, movies, blogs, and news articles. Unwind with a good book to strengthen your mind and sleep better. Or try listening to high-frequency sounds to induce feelings of calm. Integrate these brain-boosting habits into your daily routine to maximize rest and recovery before getting back to work.
10. Invest in relationships
Even social butterflies can turn into hermits in the winter. Yet, connecting with others is key to overcoming the winter blues and maintaining your motivation.
Banish feelings like loneliness and boredom by scheduling meet-ups with friends and family. Join them for dinner, meet them for coffee on your lunch break, or make a phone call to connect and reinvest in your relationships. When summer rolls around and patio seating opens back up, you’ll be glad to have stayed in touch.
Becoming an overcomer
Overcoming the winter blues isn’t a one-and-done thing, especially for those with seasonal affective disorder or depression. These conditions repeatedly flare up during the colder months, so you may face bouts of exhaustion, sadness, and anxiety multiple times before spring finally arrives.
Therefore, you must develop a daily routine and work environment that supports health and positivity. Then, when negative emotions begin to surface, you can turn to your surroundings and use specific tools to overcome them — no matter how many times it takes.
About the Author:
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine showing how technology is innovating different industries.