I don’t know why, but it seems like this time of year getting out of bed is so much harder than it usually is. The cooler air might make getting out from under the covers much less attractive than sleeping in, but the world doesn’t stop turning just because winter has arrived.

Although the days are shorter during this time of year I’ve still got stuff to do, and I’m guessing you do, too. That’s why I did some brainstorming and research on:

         1.  How to make sure your legs hit the floor when that alarm clock starts a buzzin’, and

         2.  How to stay motivated during shorter days and longer nights.

Now we all know that the cooler it is, the harder it is to get excited about getting up in the morning and going to work everyday. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a few simple changes, you can convince yourself to want to get out of bed on time, every time. Here are a few tips and tricks I came across that may be able to help you too.

         · Keep your favorite breakfast items stocked. Who doesn’t love waking up to one of their favorite foods? As long as I know I have my favorite cereal and coffee in the kitchen, I know I can muster up the strength to get out of bed.

         · Join an early morning workout group. With the help of others motivating you, it will be easier to justify jumping out of bed on time. If they can do it, so can you, right? And because we all like to sleep in until the very last second, it’s a good idea to go to sleep in your workout clothes. That way all you have to do is roll out of bed, put on your shoes, brush your teeth and go.

         · Make a point to tell yourself you’ll be rewarded later. Go ahead and tell yourself that you’ll lie down for 30 minutes or so later on in the day. As long as you know there’s a reward for your troubles, getting up will be easier.

         · Have someone call you, especially if you know they’re an early riser.

Now that we’ve got getting out of bed covered, it’s time to talk about how to stay motivated and moving during the slower winter months. Unfortunately a lot of us, myself included, slow down just a bit during the winter because temperature and light have a direct impact on our body rhythms and moods. But with some planning, there are things you can do to help make sure your day is as fun and happy as any warm and sunny summer afternoon.

         · Stay physically active. Exercise isn’t only for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It’s also great for reducing stress and elevating your mood. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and your metabolism will increase, too.

         · Eat a healthy diet. What and when you eat has a great effect on your mood and energy. Try not to eat so many processed foods like white rice and sugars. Instead, try to take in more complex carbohydrates like whole wheat breads, veggies and fruits as well as your daily-recommended 8 glasses of water. Eating foods like these and staying properly hydrated will help to stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels.

         · Get some sun. If you’re like most people you’ve probably heard that sunlight is a source of Vitamin D. But what most people don’t know is that it also improves your mood. Because of shorter days and longer nights during winter months, most of us spend less time outdoors. This affects our moods throughout the day, as exposure to sunlight releases neurotransmitters in the brain that directly affect us. So try to spend a little more time outdoors if you can. Sit near windows in restaurants, during class, or at work if you have the chance.  And don’t be afraid to keep the blinds open so you can get as much light in during the short amount of time you have. Another good trick is to switch your light bulbs to “full spectrum” bulbs, which mimic natural sunlight and tend the have the same affects on your psyche as the real deal.

         · Embrace the season. Instead of trying to avoid the cold or longer nights, look for the best that those things have to offer. Make a campfire. Roast some marshmallows. Seeing winter in a positive light with all the special things it has to offer will keep your spirits high.

         · Relax! We’re all busy with things like work, class, friends, family, appointments and personal obligations. But we all need to take some time off. Don’t be afraid to say “No” to extra work opportunities like picking up a coworker’s shift. Instead, try to make time to spend each day doing nothing! Curl up with one of your favorite reading materials and take a catnap.  Your body will thank you for it later.

So folks—those are my personal methods as well as what I found romping around on the Internet. Try a few of these tips and tricks out and I’m sure spring will be here sooner than we all know. Until next time, embrace the chill factor!