How Can I Keep My Energy Up in the Winter?

These are dark days. Literally. The days are getting shorter here in Minnesota (and in the northern hemisphere more generally). There will come a time, not too long from now, when we’ll be lucky to get 8 hours of sunlight before the Winter Solstice arrives to reset the clock.

Darkness matter. Sunlight matters. These are key indicators to how our moods operate. In other words, those dark, cold winter months tend to be hard for people. (It’s worth noting that this is different than seasonal affective disorder, which compounds the problem by a huge factor.)

So what are some ways you can keep you energy up during those dim and dark winter months? Let’s take a look at a few ways to keep up your energy and boost your mood during the winter.

Why Do I Get Sleepy And Cranky In Winter?

It’s helpful to start off thinking about why winter is so tough in the first place. There are a couple of factors that really conspire to depress one’s mood and leach off one’s energy.

First and foremost, the sun is much less visible. The sun actually provides you with an important mineral—vitamin D. Without Vitamin D, your body has a much more difficult time staying awake and producing energy. You really do need sunlight to produce this type of Vitamin D naturally (your doctor can always write you a prescription).

The other factor is the cold weather. You’re much more likely to be inside, to be isolated, to keep to yourself more. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for everyone, but for those with a more extroverted personality, that kind of isolation can be a mood killer.

Ways to Put Some Pep Back in Your Step

There are several ways you can get some of that energy back. And that’s why we talked about where this malaise came from—because you have to address the root causes of your downward mood in order to fix the problem. So what can you do? Some of these solutions are simple and some are a little more complex. For example:

  • Invest in a sunlamp: It’s not the light itself that causes your body to produce vitamin D, it’s the specific type of UV radiation that comes from the sun. A sunlamp is, basically, a light that safely replicates that UV radiation (I mean, I wouldn’t recommend spending hours beneath one, but they’re safe enough). Spending a few minutes beneath a sunlamp can help your body recoup some of that lost Vitamin D. You should always follow sunlamp instructions.
  • Have your vitamins injected. If you can’t get your vitamins from a sunlamp or from, you know, the actual sun, you might be able to get them injected. According to the website of Carillon Minneapolis, vitamin injections can be quite effective, boosting your energy considerably. And the best part is that they can be accomplished quite quickly as well—meaning there’s a very small interruption to your daily life.
  • Get a gym membership and use it. Exercise is a great way to improve both your energy levels and your mood. Exercise generally produces endorphins, and endorphins are your body’s way of rewarding itself. This flood of endorphins usually drastically improves one’s mood and gives one a good boost of energy at the same time.

Surprising Ways to Get Your Groove Back

There are also some ways that you can improve your mood and the way you feel in a more unconventional way. For example:

  • You could try meditating to center yourself
  • You could try yoga to improve your balance and the way your body feels
  • You could ensure you get the vitamins and minerals you need by taking supplements
  • You could alter your diet to ensure you’re eating right and getting energy that way
  • Treat yourself to a massage!

This list could, of course, continue. I have no doubt that there are some people who swear by acupuncture or other more outlandish methods. (I don’t mean to call acupuncture outlandish, by the way.) But here’s what I’m getting at: there are so many ways to improve your mood and your energy level that often it’s just a matter of finding what works for you.

And that can be the hardest part. Overcoming that inertia to get yourself moving in the first place can often be the most challenging part of the whole process. So use this as your motivation: get up, get out and do something today. Not tomorrow. Today. If you get something done today, tomorrow just might be a little bit easier.

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Dan Voltz / About Author

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Comments (5)

  1. Thanks for hitting on the underlying causes! I already feel the effects of staying inside more – the seclusion (especially when it involves two little kids!) often tends to feel the most burdensome as a long-time Minnesotan.

    I was just telling a friend today – after days of heavy cloud cover it’s amazing the way my mood changes instantaneously when the sun comes out! “Tra la la everything is wonderful!!” It helps to know it’s coming so I can use meditation / self-talk to remind myself that the sun will indeed return. =)

  2. Although I love the winter months in Minnesota, the dark can hurt motivation. I love these suggestions and find that trying to incorporate outdoor activities tends to help me stay more energized. Being part of the natural weather instead of hiding from it.

  3. Oh, man, do I need to get to yoga class! Great advice, and it’s a good idea to get started now, establishing the habit before the darker days come. Thanks for the uplift!

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