Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals have used daily rituals to cope with stress and stay productive at home. But now, remote workers will need to find rituals that work in winter.

Work rituals have been a stabilizing force for millions of workers who brought their work home last spring. Several months of long daylight hours and warm temperatures helped remote workers manage stress and balance work with home life.

But as the pandemic stretches into the winter, remote employees may have to replace their current rituals with ones that fit the season. As days get shorter and the cold weather sets in, it’s important to keep remote work rituals to maintain your productivity and your physical and mental health.

Consider these tips as you adjust your day-to-day schedule for the new season.

Wake Up to the Sun

In the winter, your normal wake time might have you getting up in the dark. But exposure to light is what stops your body from producing the sleep hormone melatonin, which means you feel groggier and more lethargic when waking up in darkness.

Take advantage of your more flexible work schedule and wake up with the sunrise instead. If you do, you’re likelier to feel more energetic in the morning and ready to tackle the workday ahead.

Find New Ways to Move Around

A morning walk around the neighborhood to center your mind might not be as effective when it’s freezing outside. To stay active, substitute outdoor activities with indoor exercises such as a morning yoga session, which clears your mind and gets your body ready for the day ahead. Dance workouts—done freestyle or with a cardio dance workout video—can be as energizing as a stroll.

Get Some Sun

In the summer, it’s easy to get enough sunlight after your workday. Now that it gets dark before 5 p.m. in many places, you’ll need to make more of a conscious effort to get some rays. Restructure your schedule to allow for outdoor time around midday when the sun’s rays are strongest. That morning walk you enjoyed over the summer? Do it after lunch.

Sunlight provides much-needed vitamin D and is thought to increase the body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s linked to better mood and feelings of satisfaction and calm. People with seasonal affective disorder—a type of depression that often affects people in fall and winter—sometimes show low levels of serotonin.

Meditate Regularly

When you combine cold weather with COVID concerns, it becomes easy to feel trapped at home. Meditating regularly can help you alleviate these feelings of stress, improve your emotional well-being, and sleep better. Plus, you’ll lengthen your attention span, which will improve overall productivity.

Want a winter-specific meditation regimen? One meditation teacher offers an exercise that focuses on the warmth of your body and is designed to shift your mindset from negative to grateful. There are also techniques to use meditation to get more in touch with the natural beauty of winter as a way to calm your mind.

Inject Creativity into Your Day

Have a few breaks during the workday? Fill that time doing something creative: singing, drawing, playing an instrument, dancing, writing. Any activity that gets your creative juices flowing can improve your mood, boost self-esteem, and block feelings of stress and anxiety.

Writing in particular can be a coping mechanism in tough times, as it can help you organize thoughts and process emotions.

Author: Michael Hickey, Associations Now

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