Don’t let Old Man Winter micromanage your mood! Keep your spirits bright with these work from home tips for mitigating the effects of the winter blues.
When the temperature drops and the streets are all slushy, working remotely is simply wonderful. However, it’s normal for work from home professionals to feel cooped up and lose motivation during the winter season. Instead of succumbing to the winter blues, use these 18 tips to help build momentum and keep your days productive.
Disclaimer: Our 18 tips for busting the winter blues are not substitutions for medical advice provided by a trained mental health professional. Please consult your primary care doctor and/or a mental health provider if your seasonal symptoms persist, worsen, or you believe they could be indicative of other conditions.
1. Play Outside
On chilly days, the last thing you may want to do is go outside. Despite the cold, try to get some fresh air every day. Channel your inner child occasionally and make ice forts in the backyard and collect snowflakes on your tongue. You don’t need any fancy gear for simple outdoor adventuring. Just layer up with extra socks and shirts, go for a walk around the neighborhood, and enjoy the peaceful quiet and crunching snow.
2. Work Outside of the House
Working at home is great for days you don’t feel like changing out of your pajamas. But to prevent cabin fever during the winter season, consider working outside of your home office. While COVID has complicated other remote worker hotspots such as cafes or coworking centers, you can still find some other places to break away from routine. This list could include:
- A friend’s house who also works from home
- Parents’ home
- Treat yourself to a hotel or Airbnb
The idea is to not only get out of the house and enjoy a change of scenery, but also enjoy the social aspects of the holiday season. Even a conversation with a friend, family member, or stranger can help you shake the COVID and winter blues. Plus, who doesn’t like to stay at a nice hotel every once in awhile?
3. Get Some Exercise
Your health is paramount, so take good care of your body and mind by getting regular exercise. Again, COVID has created some obstacles. Gyms and fitness centers are closed or require members to wear masks, which isn’t exactly ideal for working out—although experts have tips on how to work out with a mask if you decide to go that route.
Fortunately, you have plenty of other options to get some exercise to reduce stress, depression, or anxiety. Some choice might include:
- The Mirror Gym from Lululemon
- Buying a stationary bike or treadmill
- Fitting in a few extra steps or a walk into your daily schedule
- Sit-ups, pushups, yoga, or other light physical activity you can do in the home
Regardless of which method you pursue, exercise has been proven to improve mood, reduce stress, and help you sleep better—three things that can help you slay the winter blues.
4. Turn Up the Music
As they say, music can heal the soul. So, throw on some tunes that pump you up and make you feel invincible. If you’re tired of all the holiday hustle and winter commotion, opt for soothing tracks to serenade you through the workday. As a tip, consider your typical workload and create a playlist to help keep pace. Let the music pick you up and keep you on target all season long.
5. Decorate Your Home Office
Who says you can’t wear hula skirts and board shorts in the middle of winter? When you work at home, you can turn your winter wonderland into a tropical escape without judgment or corporate sanction.
Brighten your home office with paint, art, and spunky office supplies. If you prefer more neutral and subdued tones, consider a monotone look that makes you feel sharp and sleek. Have fun discovering your personal style and craft your ideal workspace so that you’re inspired to do your very best work every day.
6. Set Clear Goals
It’s normal to feel exhausted at the end of the calendar year and without much energy for thinking about the future. However, you can turbocharge your career by setting new, obtainable goals. Both short-term and long-term goals give you something to work toward and help sustain your enthusiasm. They also provide a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and pride when you’ve achieved them.
Whether you work as much as you want or have quotas each week, set clear goals and create simple strategies to achieve your objectives. Don’t forget to reward yourself for each accomplishment to stay motivated and strive higher!
7. Plan a Vacation or Adventure
Even if you spent your squirrel fund on last-minute holiday gifts, put a trip on the calendar for some dedicated R&R. Vacation doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. It can be a simple camping trip, a visit to an old friend’s house, or even a staycation where you explore your own city. Though working from home gives you the freedom to plan your days how you want, it’s helpful to know there’s a rich reward to be enjoyed after all your hard work. And even in the COVID era, planning an adventure or vacation is still possible—even if you’re still working here or there.
8. Pick Up a New Hobby
Hobbies are wonderful ways to express yourself creatively and sharpen your mind with new skills. They create fun challenges and give you an outlet when work bogs you down or when you feel stressed.
Though hobbies can help you switch gears and escape from your daily tasks, you can always choose activities that are job-related and potentially boost your career. For example, if you’re a transcriptionist, you might learn a second language. Once you’re fluent, you can expand your business to offer translation and interpretation services to your clients or employer.
9. Redo Your Indoors
Liven up your living spaces so that they conjure energy and happiness all year round. Since repairs and improvement projects can incur hefty costs and time constraints, make a list of all the things you’d love to do, estimate cost and time budgets, then prioritize each task or room accordingly.
As a bonus, planning and implementing home renovations helps you practice project management skills, which employers desperately need. The Project Management Institute (PMI) anticipates that employers around the world will need 87.7 million project management-related workers by 2027 to avoid suffering a $207.9 billion loss. So, leverage your home projects to practice planning, budgeting, prioritizing, and evaluating so that you can transfer your skills to your career.
It’s just as important to rest your mind as it is to stimulate it. So, set aside only five minutes at three different times throughout the day to quiet your thoughts and give your brain a break. Put the day’s chaos down for a nap while you sit still, relax all your muscles, and focus on deep breathing.
There’s no need to change into yoga clothes or buy a meditation gong. Just find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, release the tension, and take slow, deep breaths. To avoid worrying about the time or whether you might fall asleep, set an alarm on your phone or computer so that you can focus on relaxing.
11. Get a Side Hustle
In a recent survey, Bankrate.com found that 44 million American workers have a side hustle these days. If you’re interested in earning some extra bucks, learning a new skill, or deducting more expenses on your federal tax returns, you might want to invest your spare time in the gig economy. Here are some flexible, part-time, remote job categories that Virtual Vocations members favor:
Check out more part-time and temporary remote job ideas by using the “Weekly Hours” and “Employment Status” search filters in the Virtual Vocations database.
12. Virtual Meet Up with Friends
With spikes in COVID cases and the expansion of governmental restrictions due to the virus, meeting up with friends isn’t as easy as it once was. And unfortunately, this can add to your winter blues. But you still have options. Thanks to the soaring popularity of video-chat platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts, you can bond with your buds remotely. Scheduling a get-together or a virtual happy hour can help you shed feelings of uncertainty or stress often associated with COVID and wintertime. You can also put together some online activities that provide a touch of normalcy and fond memories of pre-COVID times, including:
- Trivia Night
- Movie Night
- Collaborative or Competitive Video Games
13. Virtual Volunteering
In the holiday spirit, many people choose to give something back to the community through volunteering. Unfortunately, COVID has made in-person volunteering opportunities few and far between. But the digital world is an amazing place. With the widespread availability of high-speed internet, many remote workers now turn to the web to volunteer. Nonprofit organizations and charities are always searching for professionals to provide their services. Instead of traditional settings like working at a soup kitchen, you can now use your skills to:
- Help design a website for a charity
- Teach or tutor disadvantaged students
- Rewrite a blog or other parts of a nonprofit website
These are just a few of the options available, but make sure to check out Catchafire.org. This website pairs professionals with a charitable or volunteering project that puts their skills to work. And don’t forget to check out Virtual Vocations list of other virtual volunteering opportunities below:
14. Tackle Your To-Read Pile
You know that stack of books by your bedside that keeps piling up? Well, winter’s the perfect time to snuggle under the covers and plow through best-sellers. You might even sneak in a few career-related books that can help you expand your professional network, get a promotion, or turn a side gig into a full-blown business. Choose titles that motivate you, encourage you to grow, and help you calm the winter blues.
15. Write Your Story
What’s even more exciting than reading a book? Writing one! Consider getting in touch with your creative side or documenting your occupation on paper. For example, you could write a guide for professionals and jobseekers in your industry or a fictitious story about someone in your field. No matter your career level or knowledge, you have a unique take on life and others may find your experiences encouraging and helpful.
16. Catch Up on Re-runs
Do you like watching movies and TV shows? Set aside time for some guiltless binge-watching of your favorites (just go easy on the showtime treats). Even during COVID, you can even combine a movie night with a watch party or a during a virtual visit with your elderly neighbor. Consider making it a weekly thing, where each person picks a flick that they’ve never seen to explore new genres and eras of filmmaking.
17. File Your Taxes Early
Though employers have until January 31 to send your W-2s and 1099s, you can get a head start on your taxes by entering your expenses and estimated income and withholdings. Also, be sure to research the latest tax regulations to see if you qualify for any credits or deductions. Better yet, hire a CPA or professional tax preparer to help you organize a system that makes tracking your money and filing taxes much easier in the future.
18. Take an Online Class
Winter is an excellent season to study without distraction. Consider taking an online class or completing a professional certification. According to the Linux Foundation and Dice 2018 Open Source Jobs Report, 80% of surveyed professionals state that certifications help them demonstrate technical knowledge and specific skills to potential employers. Certifications can also boost income without having to enroll in expensive, long-term degree programs. You can find quality, recognized classes here:
- LinkedIn Learning
Warm Up Your Work Life and Beat the Winter Blues with a Work From Home Career
Virtual workers sincerely appreciate the benefits of working from home during the winter season and in the midst of the COVID pandemic. If you’re not a remote worker yet, browse through the Virtual Vocations remote job database for inspiration and ideas. You’ll find hundreds of positions related to your industry and occupation. If you really want to light a fire in your life and career, sign up as a member and receive complete access to everything Virtual Vocations has to offer.
Which of these winter blues busters will you try? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts or suggestions. We’d love to hear from you!
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