two students walking down university blvd
February 24, 2020
4 mins read

How to shake up your winter routine

You are lounging on a decadent beach of white sand, soothed by a warm breeze. You sip a fruity drink served to you by your favourite non-problematic movie star. It’s too good to be true.

It is too good to be true.

You wake up to the sound of rain pelting your window and your alarm, which you’ve accidentally set to Post Malone’s “Circles”. You start weeping tears of unbridled anger and confusion because Post Malone is famous.

At this point, it feels like winter is the only season you have ever known. The last time you saw the sun was when you Googled videos of sunrises and then got stressed because you remembered that you’re not supposed to look directly at the sun. It is fine. You are allowed to look at the sun through a computer screen.

You’ve worked hard to build a healthy routine and habits for yourself. But lately, you’ve felt uninspired and like you’re in a bit of a rut, and that’s making it difficult to focus.

Feeling low-energy is pretty common around this time of the year. It’s normal to experience a post-Reading Week slump as you consider having to push through the rest of the term.

But what if I told you all it takes is a little change in your routine to help you regain some focus and re-energize?

While I can’t whisk you away to an idyllic isle in the tropics, I can share some tips on how to snap out of your foggy, late-winter brain:

1. Escape the familiarity of campus

Cartems Donuts coffeeshop

While UBC is certainly a beautiful place to study, with many great places to hit the books, you don’t have to spend every minute of every day here. In my first couple years of university, I spent far too many afternoons stuck studying in the same cubicle in the basement of Koerner Library, and every time I went I got less and less work done.

You might realize that you’re spending too much time studying somewhere when you start watching BoJack Horseman there and bringing a hot-water bottle for naps. Studying in a different environment can do wonders to reinvigorate your focus, and the fresh setting can help you see your courses, and life, in a new light. A host of great cafes, perfect for studying in, are only a short bus ride away!

You don’t have to go somewhere to just study, either. Vancouver has so many great neighborhoods to explore and unique things to do that will give you a better appreciation of the city. Going to a new area can remind you there’s a world beyond your current routine. You don’t have to be on a tropical beach to feel the excitement of exploring!

2. Get active

Students climbing the Storm the Wall

I am the first person to ever tell you that exercise is good for your health, and you will always remember how astounded and grateful you are at this moment.

Jokes aside, it really is easy to lose interest in exercise during winter, and get in the habit of not doing any.

Even if you have a good routine of going to the gym, it can be helpful to get out of the gym bubble and try other kinds of activity to help you feel excited about exercise again.

You could participate in UBC Recreation’s legendary Storm the Wall event, where you can get active and have a blast with your friends at the same time. Registration ends on March 13, so now is a great time to start thinking about getting a team together.

Or you could try taking a class in something new, like dance—even football players do ballet sometimes! It might even be as simple as doing some quick and easy exercises in your own space.

You don’t have to be the next Serena Williams to feel the positive effects of physical activity. Regular aerobic exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your memory and learning. A great way of shaking up your routine is by literally shaking (and running, and lifting, and stretching).

3. Find a small change that works for you

Maybe you eat the same thing for breakfast every day. Maybe you’ve had the same bowl haircut since you were 6 (no judgments). Find something small in your life that’s easy to change, and switch it up a little.

Substitute your Shreddies for yogurt and granola. Update your bowl cut with a trendy new hairstyle, like a rattail not a rattail. Even a small change can help you find inspiration, and remind you that the doldrums of winter aren’t permanent.

Shake up your routine, but not your success

It may seem like you have to stick exactly to your routine if it’s gotten you good results in the past. But, like anything, you can get bored of your routine, and it can lose some of its effectiveness.

Changing things up doesn’t mean you’re giving up any of your good habits—it’s just a way to help you embrace a slightly new perspective, and freshen up your outlook. That’s something we all need in winter.

So wipe those post-Post Malone tears off your face, and go out and conquer the final stretch of the year. Sometimes all it takes is a small change to re-energize yourself!