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5 Ways to Boost Productivity When It Gets Dark Way Too Early

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Is there anything more depressing than being at your office when it’s pitch black outside—and knowing full well you’ve got at least two more hours of work ahead of you before you can leave? It’s easy to get down about daylight savings time. In fact, seasonal depression affects around 4-6 percent of our population.

But even those who don’t suffer from this type of depression still have a hard time coping with the sudden loss of vitamin D, and getting through those hours of total darkness that arrive way too early in the late afternoon. The good news? There are a few things you can do to fight back and stay productive, even when it’s dark at 4 p.m. Here are a few things to try if a lack of sunlight has got you feeling less than motivated.

Stick to the same routine

If your summer weeknight routine included a gym class and then dinner, followed by an hour or two of catching up on Netflix before you hit the hay, wellness and life coach Didi Wong says the best thing you could do to keep yourself motivated and on track is to keep doing exactly that. “Similar to adjusting to jet lag, it is wise to keep eating your meals at the same time, to go to sleep at the same time—try to get your seven to eight hours of sleep—and to wake up at the same time,” she says. “This will ensure that you won’t feel especially fatigued during the first weeks of daylight savings time. However, if you are one to really feel the effects of daylight savings time, then I would suggest to adjust gradually by going to sleep 15 minutes earlier than your usual time and the next day, another 15 minutes earlier, until it becomes your new normal, in order to help boost your energy levels.”  

Take on a hobby or side hustle

One of the things that can really get us down during the dark winter months is feeling like we don’t have anything to look forward to. Summer is filled with outdoor after-work plans and vacations. But come winter time, our social calendar starts to dwindle, and we feel less motivated. “When it’s dark out and you have nothing to look forward to life can be a bit depressing,” says filmmaker Herb Palmer. “The trouble with working for someone else is that there’s nothing to look forward to except another dark drive home—only to do it again and again for 40-50 years. Find what excites you and find what lights you up with passion and work toward that dream.” Whether it’s finally trying that new class, starting a blog or taking up a craft, you’re going to be spending a ton of time inside thanks to this weather—might as well pick up something you like doing!

Maximize your morning 

Since you’ve got less daylight in the evening hours, the most obvious way to make the most of your day is to start it earlier. Wong says that the morning boost you get from your early a.m. workouts could be just the thing you need to keep you going when the sun goes down (way too early). “Being consistent with morning workouts or walks is a good goal to have during daylight savings time, ” she says.  “You will definitely feel more energized and boost your serotonin levels for the day ahead.”

Upgrade your lighting 

Whether it’s a cool new mini desk lamp you add to your office space, or more lighting at home (or both!), Wong says that the key to coping with the darkness outside is to counteract the season’s change with more light where you can control it—indoors. At night when you’re winding down to go to sleep, allow yourself to ease into the transition of darkness instead of the sudden ‘lights out’ approach that seems to happen during your office hours. “The use of lighting in your home is a good way of adjusting to daylight savings time,” she says. “Instead of keeping your lights fully on during the evening, dim them as the night progresses to help your body understand that it should begin to wind down and prepare for bed.”

Eat more fresh produce 

It sounds like something your mom would say, but there’s science to back up the fact that employees that eat more fresh fruits and vegetables are more productive—20% more productive, in fact, according to a recent survey done by The Muse. Of course, it’s winter, so you’ll want to eat seasonally. “Arugula, bok choy, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mizuna, kale, chard and collard greens are all in season,” health coach Lula Brown says. “You’re more likely to find bitter greens in season during the winter, so balance out their flavor by adding a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup when you cook them. This works especially well when you’re sautéeing your greens in olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.”

Written by Danielle Page. This post was originally published on ClassPass's blog, The Warm UpClassPass is a monthly membership that connects you to more than 8,500 of the best fitness studios worldwide. Have you been thinking about trying it? Start now on the Base Plan and get five classes for your first month for only $19.

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