How to Stay Motivated as the Days Get Darker

A dark gray sky with clouds and a silhouette of many trees along the bottom of the photograph

With the fall time change, the sun sets considerably earlier, and we have lost a lot of daytime brightness. Unfortunately, as we head into winter, the days will only get shorter, and these dark, gloomy skies will stick around. For a lot of students, this darkness can lead them to feel unmotivated, unproductive, and unenthusiastic. Luckily, there are a few ways students can combat these feelings. Here’s some tips to try: 

Reach out to friends 

This tip is especially tough right now, as we are not only headed into the darker winter months, we’re also currently in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and physically distancing ourselves as a result. One of the most important ways to keep energy up is to reach out to friends. Planning physically distanced hangouts, Zoom meetings, phone calls, or quick texting sessions can help you overcome some of the isolating feelings. 


One of the most important ways to stay motivated and energetic is to get regular exercise. Take time each day to get out and get moving. Whether it is a quick walk or an hour long cardio session, it’s important to be active, especially during the upcoming winter months. If you’re on campus, you can head to the Health and Wellness Center to get in a workout, or if you’re at home, you can check out Campus Rec’s Instagram account, where they host weekly Instagram Live exercise classes. 

Work during daylight 

I know, I know, college students can sometimes be nocturnal. However, working during the night can be detrimental to productivity. Try to work during daylight hours, and open up the blinds in the room to let some sunlight in.


Ideally, we would all sleep exactly as much as is needed to feel well rested and productive. However, we all know that’s not the case, as much as we wish it were. Try to sleep between seven and nine hours a night to feel awake, but not sluggish. 

Make time for things you genuinely enjoy 

With cold weather, the pandemic, and the latter half of the term, everything can feel a little overwhelming. Because of this, it is so incredibly important for students to take some time to do something that makes them genuinely happy. Whether that is checking out the latest Netflix release on the couch with a hot chocolate, or trying out a new recipe for dinner, try to do an activity that brings you joy, either each day or at least once every few days.


The next few months will likely be a little tougher than usual, and we need to stick together. Check in with yourself, check on your friends and family, and practice kindness. If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to check out WOU’s Student Health and Counseling Center. Please note that students taking fully online courses during fall term would need to opt in to the $145 Health Service fee. 


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