What to Do with Those Rainy Day Moods

After a month-long hiatus (that involved moving both my office and my home), I thought it was time to pick up the blog thread again.  Funnily enough, though, I'm feeling particularly unmotivated today because it is rainy and chilly and dark.  So, in an effort to push through my lack of motivation, I'm going to write about the fact that it is rainy and chilly and dark.  But don't worry, this won't be a moody piece that reflects the weather, this one is about managing that moodiness.

Waking up on a cold, rainy morning has always been hard for me.  In my mind, these are the mornings that are perfect for sleeping in, burying under the covers and forgetting my to-do list.  Isn't it great when that happens on a Saturday, and you can actually roll over and snooze for another hour?  Clearly, yes.  But what to do when that happens on a workday?  Or worse yet....a Monday?  Now there may be some of you who spring out of bed no matter what (although I'm guessing you are few and far between, and also, what's your secret??), and then there are plenty of you who are awakened by children or other necessaries and you don't really have time to even consider the roll-over, bury your head, snooze button option.  For those of you who think, "I don't have time in the morning to even consider hitting the snooze button!" I encourage you to try to find even five minutes to do something positive and quiet before your day gets going - even if that means getting up five minutes earlier.

What follows is a mix of personal and professional ideas - as I always say in session and here on the blog - take what fits for you and leave the rest.  (Unless you notice that nothing fits...then maybe check in with your rainy-day-grumpy-meter...)

First thing in the morning:

  • When you open your eyes in the morning, try not to immediately run through your to-do list or leap out of bed.  Give yourself a couple minutes to arrive mentally and emotionally (similarly to coming out of meditation).  Lie quietly, take in sensations through all five senses, stretch from your toes to your fingers overhead.  Take a couple of deep breaths before sitting up.  Arriving in the moment can change the whole outlook of your day.
  • Create a routine in your morning that includes a self-care ritual.  For example, I absolutely do not take care of anything else until I have a cup of coffee in my hand.  Warm coffee (or tea) in my hand makes the day seem much brighter. For you it might be something else - perhaps it's putting on your slippers and comfy robe, or sitting on the floor quietly with your pet for a moment, or stepping out onto a balcony or porch for some fresh air.  It can be that simple, and only take a couple of minutes.
  • Do some light morning yoga.  Don't worry about the right mat or stretchy pants - even five minutes on the floor doing some gentle stretching will help you wake up, get your blood flowing, and work out stiffness from the night.
To stay motivated or manage moodiness throughout the rainy day:
  • Breathe. All. Day. Long.  Breeeaaatthhheeee.  Deep, conscious breaths that empty and refill your lungs help bring in energy and shed moodiness.
  • If you have the option, choose something approachable and relatively easy/enjoyable to do first in your day.  Accomplishing something right away will motivate you to keep going, as well as boost your mood.
  • Get some exercise.  Any kind of exercise.  Take the stairs, do some stretching, walk around the office, start your day off with a trip to the gym.  Whatever sounds do-able.
  • Take regular breaks.  Research consistently shows that sitting still all day long may be one of the most unhealthy behaviors today's humans face - it also makes you drowsy and slows your heart rate/metabolism.  Get up every hour or so and stretch, move, have a chat with someone, go to the bathroom, whatever - not only will your day go by more quickly, but you will have more energy (i.e. focus and motivation) throughout the day.
  • Play!  Find a way to inject some fun and play into your day.  Pets are great for this.  So are friends and kids.  As adults, play is highly underrated.  It helps us laugh, relax and feel good again - don't let your to-do list keep you from it.
  • And finally, one of my favorite mood shifting ideas is the "mood shift music playlist".  This is an idea I stole from a personal friend - so big thanks to them for it.  A mood shift playlist is basically a playlist of songs (try Spotify or iTunes) that you put together that begins with moodier, quieter, sadder songs and then progresses into more neutral music which then progresses into happier, uplifting music.  Now depending on your preferences, this list could ultimately finish with some all out happy dance tunes...but that's up to you. This playlist can help you mentally transition from a negative place to a positive one - music has wonderful powers.  Here's a truncated sample playlist:
    • "Codex" by Radiohead
    • "Perth" by Bon Iver
    • "From the Morning" by Nick Drake
    • "To Build a Home" by Cinematic Orchestra
    • "Burning Stars" by Mimicking Birds
    • "Second Song" by TV on the Radio
    • "40 Day Dream" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

The take-home message here is be gentle with yourself.  Taking extra steps may feel like...well...extra...but in time I hope you will notice a difference and feel the worth of being kind to your self, what is commonly referred to as "self-care".  Self-care is not selfish - it makes us better able to do our jobs, to parent, to relate, to learn, to grow, to help others.  There is nothing selfish about that.

What do you do to keep motivated?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Enjoy the rain!