Here on the East Coast, it is officially winter time although it was really slow to come. Many of us on the East Coast spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas Day with a light sweater or even a t-shirt depending on how warm it was. So now that Winter has finally set in, most of us want to stay in, snuggle up with our favorite blanket, and drink a delicious cup of hot chocolate. Winter is one of those times when everything slows down outside and we tend to slow down also. It is easy to get sucked in to the slowness that is inherent to winter time and you need to make sure you stay highly motivated otherwise it will be hard to get anything done.
The spring semester is about to start or already has started for those of us taking classes this semester. If you are a senior student and you have already gotten in to medical school, this is the beginning of a really wonderful semester. My only advice for you is enjoy this time as much as you can but please do not do horribly in your classes. Some students have gotten warnings or acceptances taken away based on bad grades from their fourth year so just remember to be careful. For everyone else, you still have some time before you can officially slack off.
Get Your Exercise On
Exercising is a great way to stay motivated during the winter time. Not only does your brain release endorphins (which help to make you happy) but it helps you study better. Many studies have been performed which have found that people who exercise tend to do better in school. So when you are getting stuck in the wintertime blues, find a way to motivate yourself to get over to the gym. But the struggle is real and it does suck to walk/drive to the gym when it is so cold outside. This is the best time to look up some good workouts and do them at home for a couple of days until you get tired of doing those and have to drag yourself to the gym. Another way to think about it is, spring and summer are just around the corner and you most likely want to work on that beach body of yours that is currently in hibernation.
You can start be doing something small like lifting weights in your room or doing abs on your floor. Get into a routine and do this every day. You will notice a difference in how you feel and you will be more motivated to get your work done.
Get Your Vitamin D
Unless you are living on the West Coast or in Florida, you may not be getting enough Vitamin D during the winter months. I know that when I moved for medical school, I moved to an area where my body was not getting enough Vitamin D during the winter months. I had my Vitamin D levels checked and they were very low. Instead of only taking supplements I decided to try and get some sun during the winter months. In the afternoon time, the sun would shine directly on my bed so I would sit on my bed with my computer for 15 minutes so that I was getting sunlight everyday.
You may be thinking, who cares if your Vitamin D is low? Well actually Vitamin D is very important and is not only necessary for your bones but low Vitamin D can actually cause a number of different problems such as fatigue, trouble sleeping, bad mood, and so much more. An easy solution for these problems is to get a little bit of sunlight each day. However daily sunlight is still not enough for some people so keep that in your mind if you notice any changes with yourself during the winter time.
Most of us typically think of the winter months as a time to relax and become lax in our diets. The holidays have just ended so it is easy to get used to all of the food including delicious holiday cookies. Eating fatty foods naturally slows us down to the molecular level so a wonderful way to get out of the winter rut is to substitute for healthier options such as salads and fruits. Natural ingredients such as vegetables and fruits can provide us with the energy that we need to push through a cold winter.
Switch Up Your Coffee/Tea Break
The days are shorter during the winter time and something that works really well for me during the winter months is drinking my cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon instead of first thing in the morning. The middle of the afternoon is when I get tired and so I really look forward to some caffeine in the middle of the day. Also I really enjoy something warm (whether or not it is caffeinated) during the day. If you are not a coffee or tea drinker, hot chocolate is always a good alternative. But the point is not that you need caffeine during the middle of the day, it is just doing something for yourself that will help you get through a cold winter day.
The winter can be a rough time and it is easy to become lazy because the cold temperatures naturally slow you down. Whereas in the summertime you naturally want to be outside and doing activities that you enjoy. The best way to not let the winter take over you this season is to be proactive.