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Monday Motivation: six ways to beat the winter blues

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With the #mondaymotivation trend taking over TikTok and Instagram, we’ve found a few ways to make you feel inspired and happy during this gloomier time of year.

Winter months tend to feel less cheery — after all, a combination of super-low temperatures and lack of sunshine is known to dampen people’s spirits. And while December carries that sparkling festive joy that makes even the coldest of days seem brighter, January and February can often leave you feeling disenchanted and overwhelmed with obligations.

Still, with one month of winter to go, now’s the time to take some drastic steps to improve your mood and find the motivation you need to attack the day. In view of social media users sharing their own versions of self-motivation (from funny videos of their dog on a rainy day to inspirational quotes) on TikTok and Instagram under #mondaymotivation, we suggest a few ways to beat the winter blues and feel inspired again, whether it’s the start of a new week or just a boring old Wednesday.

Read more: Self-care Sunday: how to feel refreshed for the week ahead
A couple wrapping their spare chairs in bubble wrap to put in storage.
Photo by Blue Bird
Declutter your personal space

Few of us have the patience — or the time — to properly tidy up after a long, tiring week. Still, decluttering your space will allow you to make room for new things and experiences in your life, bringing you a sense of hope and anticipation for the future while allowing you to wake up to a more peaceful, stress-free environment. According to decluttering master Marie Kondo, ‘A dramatic reorganisation of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life-transforming.’

If you don’t know where to begin, it might be a good idea to set a reminder for decluttering on a Sunday, when you know you’ll be staying in. Put on your favourite music and start with the small things, like throwing out some old mail or magazines, before setting bigger objectives like organising your closet and sorting out clothes that could be donated to charity. If this seems like a daunting task, invite a couple of friends over to help; you can all reward yourselves later with a good film and a pizza.

Of course, if you’re living with kids, the process is bound to be a little more challenging — even Kondo herself has taken a more lenient approach towards messiness after becoming a mother — but it’s still worth getting rid of the really unnecessary stuff. For more inspiration and tips on how to do it right, check out Marie Kondo’s books on how to declutter your space and various aspects of your life.

Read more: Ten amazing fitness products to elevate your at-home workouts
A young woman doing yoga in a park.
Photo by Mike Kilcoyne
Take up yoga or meditation

Aside from the obvious benefits of exercising (helping you tone up and feel stronger and happier thanks to the endorphin boost in your body), a workout like yoga is also an excellent way to find your centre and reconnect with yourself. Standing, balancing poses and backbends all help you focus on your breathing and can allow you to feel grounded, relaxed and ready to take on the world. A 50-minute yoga session could be enough to put a smile on your face for an entire day. Look for a yoga studio in your neighbourhood or, if you don’t feel like stepping outside, check out gyms like Virgin, which offer online classes with a monthly subscription.

If you want something less physical, try meditation instead — it can have a similar effect to yoga, without the exercising part. Meditation apps such as Calm offer a plethora of timed meditation sessions, breathing exercises and mild movement lessons that are aimed at helping you feel more in tune with yourself and your surroundings, so you can face any challenge head on. You can even attend a mindfulness retreat to master the technique of being in the moment through meditation sessions and activities such as paddleboarding.

Attend a hands-on workshop

Getting involved in stimulating activities is one of the best ways to stay motivated every day. Consider picking up a new hobby, one that will allow you to develop a new skill or take an existing talent to the next level. Activities such as sewing, woodworking, cooking and gardening will give you the chance to create something from scratch, while keeping your hands and your mind busy, and can encourage you to set new goals as you see a project through from ideation to realisation.

Finding the hobby that suits you best shouldn’t be difficult, as there are myriad workshops for every conceivable interest around the UK. The Goodlife Centre is an excellent choice for all things DIY, from upholstery to carpentry and woodwork. For sewing classes, why not check out Sew It With Love.

Read more: The secrets to a good night’s sleep post-pandemic
A young woman in red making a dress with a sewing machine.
Photo by cottonbro studio
Connect with nature

According to the American Psychological Association, ‘exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation’. It makes sense, then, that when we’re taking a stroll in the park or travelling to the countryside for the weekend, we feel happier and thus more optimistic and motivated to go about our day.

Luckily, there’s a wealth of green spaces around the country where you can get your fix of nature, with London alone boasting around 3,000 parks. And if you want to completely clear your mind from stressful or negative thoughts, a hobby like birdwatching might help you discover a new-found appreciation for life that stems from observing the natural world. You can do so by using binoculars or simply the naked eye, or even download a birdwatching app like Birda, which allows you to record your sightings and share them with conservation researchers who can guide your birding journey.

Take an online positive thinking course

Positive thinking can be the gateway to happiness and self-motivation, but is there a way to actually train ourselves to think positively? If you’re struggling to think happy thoughts, an online course with a life coach may help.

Udemy offers an array of courses that aim to teach you how to think in a positive, optimistic way, ranging from the art of manifesting to boosting your willpower and staying consistently motivated. Although the latter might feel like a stretch, you might discover a few techniques that will allow you to take life day by day and stay inspired for a good chunk of the week.

Read more: How to breathe properly, because you’re probably doing it wrong
A blonde woman smiling while holding up a smiley balloon next to her face.
Photo by Julia Avamotive
Write a diary

Whether or not you believe in the philosophy of manifesting, which maintains that an individual can make their wishes come true by mentally visualising them, it’s worth keeping a diary of your thoughts, goals and wishes so that you’re always reminded of where you want to go in life. Writing could also help you process your emotions better and aid you in rationalising fears that could otherwise hinder self-motivation.

Set aside time each day to write in your diary and make sure to read back over your words at the end of each week. Looking back over your entries can help to remind you of your goals and learn more about how you succeeded in dealing with certain challenges — both of which can help you stay inspired and look forward to the good things that lie ahead.

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