Motivation: found

Just as quickly as my motivation left, it returned. One piece of information changed my attitude completely. It’s a bit bizarre, actually. I’m not sure why my attitude was dependent on these details. I went from not having zero desire to pursue any of my goals, to realizing I was being an idiot. What changed?

Fall came.

Yes, it’s that time again. When exercise is no longer a luxury or a middle-class hobby, it’s an act of desperation in order to keep on top of my mental health. When my morning routine is a way I keep on top of all of these things because they’re all crucial to me keeping my life in order. I don’t think it’s any coincidence I first posted about morning routines exactly a year ago. Fall, for me, is very pretty torture.

But you know what? I don’t really want to run anymore. I’m working on that one. I used to really enjoy it! And now all these people who started running after me are totally overtaking me in distance covered etc. They’re all running 5, 10ks. People posting their half-marathon times on Facebook and I’m experiencing deep regret over my public declarations.

But that’s kind of the whole point of the public declaration: so I will be shamed/encouraged into continuing.

I still love lamp!

lovelamp

A few weeks ago a friend asked me how things were going with my lamp since I blogged about it. Well, let me tell you: I’m a fool. I started feeling bad as early as the first week of October this year which is earlier than usual. So I started using it regularly in November. That went well. And then December came.

I stopped wanting to. My motivation went through the floor. Every morning I thought to myself, “I don’t really want to…” Then I didn’t. POOR CHOICES.

Here’s the thing: there are one of two mistakes we make when we’re feeling the winter blues (or for any other mental health related things).

  1. I’m feeling good so I don’t need it. Wrong. We’re feeling good because the treatment is working. That doesn’t mean STOP, it means CONTINUE.
  2. I don’t feel like it/I don’t want to. It means the treatment isn’t yet working because motivation is low. At least that’s how it is for my personal experience.

Learn to trust the data

I need to learn to trust data in front of me rather than my feelings. The data of the last few years says: you’re not yourself at Christmas and your family thinks you’re this bump on a log who doesn’t like being with people and doing basically anything but eat and play Dutch Blitz. That’s not who I am normally (though, let’s be serious, I’ll eat and play Dutch Blitz any time). This experience this past winter tells me I need to ask my husband to help me not listen to my feelings or my own head because it isn’t trustworthy.

This past year I tried to do better than the previous year. I did! Sort of!

So here’s to learning about how to function optimally, healthily and to asking for help in doing that.

Do you have a hard time reading or accepting the data that you see about your health? How can you fix that? If you’d like to share, leave a comment or leave some feedback here in the comments.

Decision making in the groggy moments of morning

This week has been unseasonably warm. It’s basically April up here right now this strange week of January. So I’ve been motivated to run again because the sidewalks are free from ice and snow. Three out of the last four days I said to myself before going to bed “tomorrow, you’re going to get up and go for a run right away.”

Didn’t happen. Any of those days.

Both yesterday and today, about thirty minutes after I had gotten out of bed, I noticed I regretted the fact that it was too late for me to go for a run.

So what’s the deal?

I realized this morning that my decision-making skills were non-existent. My grogginess factor was so powerful that if that continues in the morning, I will never ever accomplish anything until I wake up. That’s when I realized I was having all this success last fall because I had never once tried to get up and go right out the door for a run. The plan was always wake up, do light therapy, journal, then go for the run. By the time I had spent that 30 or so minutes waking up, I was awake and enthusiastic enough to grab the shoes and go.

According to EasyWake.me‘s 12 most important facts about sleep inertia (the grogginess after being woken up), “within the first three minutes of waking, decision-making performance can be as low as 51 percent of the person’s best decision-making ability before sleep. Decision-making performance may still be 20 percent below optimum performance 30 minutes after waking. Sleep inertia may affect cognitive performance for up to two hours.”

This is a super helpful realization for me because it’s the difference between me tweaking my plans and feeling demotivated and wanting to quit. Realizing I need at least 15 minutes where I get vertical (out of that comfy bed) or do light therapy. Then I will maybe be rational enough to make the right choice to go run or another form of exercise.

Here’s to tomorrow morning and outrageously warm weather for January!

What about you? Do you now have a little bit more hope for your morning routine with this information? Share your thoughts in the comments here.

I LOVE LAMP!

The last four years I’ve noticed a marked difference in my happiness levels starting as early as September 1.  While I may have had it in years prior, I only clued in to the “winter blues” in the last few years. The pattern is the same every year, peaking in the last week of November. The question I’ve been trying to answer every fall is “how do I stay productive while feeling the blues?”

I once heard that during a Canadian winter, one must sunbathe naked at high noon for an hour to naturally get enough Vitamin D. Since I don’t do that (!), the last few years I’ve faithfully taken 1000 IUs of Vitamin D (coupled with Vitamin C) every day. Last year my friend lent me a DayLight which I wasn’t very consistent in using. This past week I started using it again for 15 minutes every morning right when I wake up.

Can I tell you how amazing that was even the first day I used it? The first day! It was like the sun had risen in my heart! I’m confident that this will help throughout this upcoming cold, light-less Montreal winter.

So this winter:

  • vitamin D
  • at least 15 minutes of light therapy a day
  • regular exercise

What about you? Do you get the winter blues? How do you manage? What helps you stay on your game?

UPDATE:

People have been asking me what I recommend. Like I mentioned in the comments, the Philips brand lights are good as well as the DayLight that I use. To be honest, the Philips lights are way more normal sized compared to what I have and probably more reasonable in price, as well as more easily accessible. You can get them at Amazon and Costco.

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