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Beating the Winter Blues

Beating the winter blues is never easy. Especially with (what seems like) a never ending pandemic on our hands, overcoming the lows of the winter season is not as simple as it once might have been.

Over the years, and in an attempt to help me get through my winter blues, I’ve read multiple self-help books. In almost every book, the author never failed to mention the influence that nature has on our motivation and energy.

Image of a dog playing in the snow

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement - or at least in the summer, fall, and spring I do. Winter, on the other hand, seems like a totally different beast. I’m starting to think that the authors of those books may never have experienced a winter in New Jersey or another, even remotely cold region for that matter.

In my experience, when it’s already dark by 5 pm and I can’t stay longer than 10 minutes outside before my body freezes up (even after layering up so intensely that I could pass for the Michelin Man), it’s hard to find the motivation to keep going. That’s not even taking into consideration the safety hazards for women in the (seasonally expanded) darkness of night.

For those of you who’ve never come across the winter blues, not only do I envy you - but I think you may need to share your zip code and lifestyle routine so I can discover where I’ve gone wrong.

Regardless of where you live and what the temperature is like, we all deserve to find something that gets us through a bleak winter. Whether it’s work, a hobby, or family and friends. To broaden my own set of (less frigid options) and give you a chance to learn alongside me too, I’ve gathered some intel from our team at Wheels Up. Here’s what keeps our team motivated during the winter.

Learning something new

“I used to hate winter but over the past few years, I've looked at it as a time to go inward. Along with exercise and connecting with friends to stay healthy and keep the winter blues away, I use the time to learn something new. I recently bought myself an electronic drum set and plan to teach myself how to play!”

— Paula Finkelstein, Content Strategist

Organizing work with restricted daylight in mind

“There’s nothing worse than starting and ending the day during the night. Winter in Seattle often means sunrise at 8am and sunset before 5pm. That means you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy activities in daylight if you’re working a typical 9-5. I’m potty training a puppy right now and this winter has been particularly hard for me — darkness, rain, fog, and the constant feeling of being tired. To counter the blues, I’ve flipped the script on how my day is structured and have built in time for play during the day. I do a 2:1 ratio meaning I work for 2 hours and then play for 1 hour. Having multiple breaks in my day to get some fresh air, spend time with my partner and dogs, and enjoy the little daylight we have affords me the mental breaks my body requires to stay productive and awake while still executing against all our big goals at work. It’s not a standard work shift and often means I bounce between things repeatedly, but it’s the perfect blend for me to maintain a good work/life balance in the winter.”

— Brian Aylward, Head of Clients

Practicing flexibility, grace, and honoring limitations

“Here in Portland and back home in Seattle, daylight is limited and weather gets soggy; winter blues are a real problem. Most years, I made a point to plan a vacation somewhere sunny in the first few weeks of the year. That way, between the excitement of the holidays and a warm vacation right after, there was always a distraction to look forward to or recent, fun memories to reminisce on. As a member of the vulnerable population during the pandemic, I haven't done much traveling in recent years. Instead, I've coped with the (super-sized, pandemic-edition) dread by treating myself to an immersive and time consuming video game, I've gotten body-comforting experiences like massages as often as my budget allows, and I've given myself permission to go into hibernation mode where less productivity, socialization, and activity in general is totally okay. It can be easy to get frustrated about a lower-than-usual level of motivation and action, so I like to remind myself that every other creature in nature has rhythms, and it’s good to take time learning and honoring mine. This list - along with a good therapist and a psychiatrist on call - have been my key to survival in recent years.”

— Karla Margeson, Managing Editor

As for me, I plan to skip any pressure to do hobbies outdoors. Instead, I'm taking the time for self care with indoor activities that bring me joy. Drinking herbal tea, reading, and watching a new tv series are all ways I recharge for another day. The more refreshed and motivated I feel, the better work I produce and the better our outcomes for clients. It all comes full circle. You can’t have the motivation to do great things for your client if you aren’t taking the time to care well for yourself.

Maybe reading this has inspired you with a suggestion or two to bolster your mood, energy, and motivation this season, or at least reflect on what’s already working this year for you.

We know that keeping big goals on track can be tough without the strength of a fully grounded and talented team. If you find yourself in need of some rockstars, feel free to drop us a line.

My gratitude to Wheels Up for allowing me to write about such an important and relevant theme.


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