One of the biggest problems I’ve faced as the days get shorter is a sudden lack of work capacity. I become unable to do tasks that seemed basic a few months earlier, and I end up having to cut some of my obligations in half.
It’s especially hard for me to maintain creativity in the winter. Personal and professional projects suffer as a result, and I feel less fulfilled as an artist.
Over the last couple of years I’ve explored solutions to this problem. While I haven’t found the perfect fix, certain lifestyle changes have made a huge impact on my productivity and creative energy. In particular, the food I eat (and avoid) determines a lot about my mood.
Yesterday my husband asked me to write out some of my goals for the winter and how I plan to reach them, especially as I enter a time of transition in my web content job. Food wound up high on the list, and I realized how much my change of diet has helped me be more productive on the shortest days of the year:
- I treat myself to animal products during meals out with friends or on special occasions, but my weekday fair is close to vegan.
- Smaller portions. After cutting back I’m certain American portion sizes weigh me down physically and creatively.
- Veggies for breakfast. Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie is wonderful.
- No more coffee. That’s right, I gave up coffee for a month in September and guess what? It worked! My energy is up and afternoon crashes are a thing of the past. I haven’t looked back. Okay except that once. Twice. Every so often.
- A sunset drink. Light and dark are such a huge part of seasonal affective disorder that I’ve found it helps to mark the end of the day, which of course gets earlier as the year progresses. I have a glass of wine or mug of hot cocoa and sit for a few minutes, reminding myself that it’s about to get dark and that that’s okay. If you suffer from SAD, I highly encourage trying out this ritual for a while.
- Tea breaks. Taking a break for tea gets my tired eyes away from the computer and forces me to let work sit for a minute. I always see it fresher when I come back.
- Taking care with carbohydrates. It’s common with SAD to crave pasta and other heavy carb dishes in the winter. I love pasta; but I’m learning to eat it only occasionally and to enjoy gluten-free options, which don’t alter my mood with intense sugar lows.
If you’ve made dietary changes to boost your productivity and creative success, I would love to know your tricks!
(Photo by Ariel da Silva Parreira)