How to Fall into a Good Routine this Season
Falling victim to bad lifestyle habits once the weather starts to get cold is far too easy. Not only does the lack of daylight pose as a great excuse for the decrease in productivity, but we can easily get swept up in the very serious condition that is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) if we're not looking after our bodies + minds. Almost exactly two years ago, I was just about to go into the very first ever September where I wasn't going back to school, I was self-employed (which could have easily been called unemployed at that point), and due to the self-employment and increasingly cold weather, I had become hermit confined to the walls of my apartment. I had never in my life felt so low.
Not going back to school in September for the first time since you were 4 years old is a terrifying experience; it's uncomfortable, confusing, and physically you feel as though you're missing something/have somewhere to be. In my case, if you're self employed, you go from spending each and every day surrounded by people + teachers, to be almost entirely alone while you work from the confines of your home-office/bedroom. Even though I can't take away the feeling of missing out while the people you know are going back to school this September, or make the sun shine when you're needing it most, but I can share some of the ways that I've found helpful in developing a healthy fall routine.
- Wake up at the same time every day. I knooooow that one of the "perks" of being self-employed is that you can wake up whenever you want to/start your day at whatever time; and although that may be true, it's not the best way to start the most productive day. It takes a few days for your body to get accustomed to the changes (if you're learning to wake up earlier), but give it a few days of jumping out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off, and your body will become familiar with the changes and you'll start feeling better + more awake.
- Spend some time on YOU first thing in the morning. Taking the time to work on yourself first thing in the morning before checking into your inbox or jotting down to-dos is essential for wellbeing and self-care. When it comes to my career, I am my business; therefore if I'm not feeling healthy + happy + taken care of, then it's my business that's going to suffer. Okay so you've set aside the time each morning for yourself, but what should you be doing during that time? Read a book for 30 minutes while you drink your coffee, go for a 30 minute walk outside, do a little yoga or meditation, or do something that you never seem to be able to find the time to do (i.e creative writing, write a letter to a friend, paint, etc). If you want a great (free) 30 day yoga program, this is the one I'm currently working through.
- Fill up on sunshine + other nutrients. It's no secret that the days are already getting a lot shorter; before we know it, we'll be waking up in the darkness, and eating dinner well after the sun has gone down. Living in a constant state of cold and darkness is an easy way to quickly become unmotivated + unhappy. Get your fill of sunshine while and when you can. Find a sunny patch in your yard, toss a cozy sweater on, and bask in the rays while reading or eating your lunch. Step away from your desk and walk around your neighbourhood in the sunshine. It also might be a good idea to talk to someone about getting your Vitamin D in other places for those days + weeks where the sun doesn't come out to play (like Vitamin D rich foods, such as fish + orange juice), or even getting your hands on a UV emitting wake up lamp for your bedroom.
- Get out of the house on the weeknights. I've fallen victim to staying indoors for what feels like days on end; even though I make an effort to walk outside at least once a day during the week, it's still easy to feel like your prisoner to your own home on the weeknights, especially once it starts to get colder outside. Sign up for something that will get you out of your house at least one weeknight a week. Whether that be a spin class, a book club, a cooking lesson, or a dinner out with friends, make an effort to fill your evening time with a social/outside of the home activity.
- Get around to doing something that you've always wanted to do. As the winter season starts to approach, it's no secret that my days are going to drastically slow down. My first winter season as a photographer almost drove me crazy with guilt, because I would spend days on end trapped indoors because of the cold, wandering around my apartment feeling the need to do something. If you're self-employed as well, or more specifically a photographer like myself, I want you to try looking at the "slow season" as an opportunity for growth and personal development, as opposed to it being a negative burden. Once you're able to get over that guilt of being at home and "not working" (I'm writing a full blog post on this super soon!), start thinking about something that you've always wanted to do but have never had the time for. Could you redevelop your business' paperwork or work on your branding? Do you finally have the time to learn to knit or cross-stitch? Do you need to dedicate days-on-end to working on figuring our your message + brand as a photographer? This down time isn't a negative punishment, it's a well-deserved break from how hard you've been working for the past 6 months; use it to your advantage and appreciate it.
Regardless of how you decide to transition your routine into the fall season, the important thing to remember is that you’re never alone in this process; as organic entities, we’re always changing, ever-flourishing individually, yet alongside of one-another. Use this shift into a new season, to consciously take care of your body and mind while slowly taking the steps to improve your wellbeing and lifestyle.