How to Ignite Motivation in the Dark, Winter Months


It’s mid-December and it feels like I’m running on fumes. There’s just so much to do…and so little daylight.

I’m typically most productive in the morning, bouncing out of bed when the sun rises. But in the winter, you’ll find me hitting snooze and then dragging myself out of bed, skipping my workout in the process.

The real struggle is the evening when my body is ready for bed at 6pm because it feels more like 10pm. Getting anything done is nearly impossible because if I sit down, I’m dozing.

If you’re feeling the same, let’s make some changes.

Reignite your motivation in the winter months

The dark and cold aren’t holding us back any longer!

1. Switch up your routine

Forcing the same routine when it really isn’t working is going to drain you. Maybe that 6am workout was doable when the sun was coming up, and you actually had energy for a post-dinner walk when 7PM didn’t feel like 11PM. For me, cooking dinner every evening feels more daunting now that it’s cold and the only thing that sounds good is snuggling up and ordering in.

It’s okay to change your routine as your circumstances change. I know change is hard, even when it’s necessary. But trust.

Change your workout

Maybe now is a good time to switch up your workout. Try something new, lower your intensity, or even make your workout shorter. If getting to the gym is a struggle in the winter, give home workouts a shot.

These changes can be as temporary as you want! Changing things or taking it easy for a bit might help you feel more excited about your workout. Plus it

Adjust your schedule

Take a high-level look at your day, and see where you can move things around. Can you go to bed earlier to feel more rested in the morning? Is it possible to work out at a different time of day?

2. Set yourself up for success

Think about your barriers. What is getting in your way regarding what you intend to do, and actually executing it consistently? Then, do what you can to make the execution easier on yourself. Some examples:

  • Lay out your workout clothes or pack your gym bag the night before
  • Fill your water bottle so it’s ready for you
  • Plan your menu for the week ahead of time
  • Lean on frozen foods, and other “convenience” items as often as you need (i.e. frozen veggies and rotisserie chicken to the rescue!).
  • Stock up on slow cooker recipes
  • Write out a simple weekly “chore” schedule


Just little things to save time and keep yourself on track! Doing these things for yourself will feel good too, which will help with motivation (AKA you’ll feel less like you’re drowning).

verilux happy light SAD how to stay motivated in the winter

Image: Verilux

3. Add more light to your day

If the sun is bailing on us for a few months, let’s try getting light elsewhere. I’ve heard so many good things about light therapy lamps, which have been shown to help with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Starting your day with a few minutes of light therapy might be just what you need to crush your day.

In the evening, light therapy can help stimulate melatonin to give you better quality sleep. This is important because being sleepy in the winter doesn’t always mean I’m going to sleep WELL.

Of course, it always helps to get outside while it’s light out when you can too. A little sunshine and fresh air can boost your energy and pull you out of a slump.

4. Incorporate JOY

Always have something to look forward to. HAVE FUN.

  • If you dread the cold, dark drive to the gym, blast your favorite playlist on the way there.
  • Try a new class – fitness-related or not!
  • Dive into a new book or audiobook series instead of rotting and scrolling before bed.
  • Trade favorite recipes with a friend or try a recipe dupe for a restaurant dish you love.


Lightening the mood for the tasks or times of day when you feel blah will help boost your mood and your creativity so you don’t feel so “stuck” during the dreary, slow months.

5. Be easy on yourself

Above all else, cut yourself some slack. Just as the weather and amount of sunlight we get changes, so do our fitness levels and motivation. It all ebbs and flows! So let it.

We can’t be at the top of our game all the time. So instead of feeling discouraged if you’re not there right now, lean into the rest you need. Focus on what feels good and your motivation will be back, perhaps stronger than ever.



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