The colder months of the year can leave us feeling a bit sluggish and less motivated, and that feeling can affect our work, our relationships, and our overall well-being. Breaking out of a slump and regaining motivation can seem daunting, but oftentimes, it’s the small, unexpected steps — like tapping into everyday joy triggers — that can help us course correct and regain a sense of creativity and optimism.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the small ways they get unstuck and break out of a slump when they feel unmotivated. Which of these ideas will you try?

Make a small change to your routine 

“What helps me break out of a slump  is changing my routine in some small way. The more we follow a certain routine, the more we tend to operate on automatic pilot and our behavior becomes habitual. We can change a simple component of our daily routine, such as having visiting hours for emails, as opposed to checking emails as soon as we are alerted by notifications. This change helps us jolt ourselves out of autopilot and stimulates new energy to push us past a slump.”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

Send a mood-boosting text

“I believe the best way to get out of a slump is to encourage another person. I have a list of people in my cell phone, such as friends, associates, and college students that I will send a random ego booster message to. These messages can be texts, voice memos, or whatever I’m feeling. Simply sending a nice message brightens the day. It enables you to be positive and productive and the response back is priceless.”

—Rudy chavarria Jr., founder, college web mentor, Walnut, CA

Start a “keep me” folder

“When I’m in a slump about work, I go to my ‘keep me’ folder. I learned this trick from a mentor. She taught me to keep a folder of nice feedback and thank you notes I’ve received along the way. It’s energizing to review those moments of recognition and goodness that remind me of strengths and where I add value to others.”

—Donna Peters, business owner, former senior partner, Atlanta, GA

Switch up your scenery 

“Changing my scenery and spending some time in nature really helps to make me feel energized and gets me out of any slump or low mood.  Also, decluttering my environment helps make me feel lighter and brighter.”

—Sharon Kennewell, holistic health and wellness coach, UK

Try using a standing desk

“I work long days, during most of which I am sitting and stationary. Fortunately, as part of my employer’s ergonomic program, I have a standing desk which I utilize once I’m feeling that slump. I simply prop it up to stand every once in a while to give me that much needed boost! It also helps me, as an individual who is active and has a hard time sitting still, admittedly! It’s a small yet significant way in which I can break up my long work hours while remaining productive.”

—Caroline Velarde, local government employee, Claremont, CA

Take a walk outside 

“I enjoy taking a walk to break out of a slump. Simply breathing fresh air, feeling the sun, and listening to the birds gives me some energy to start with new tasks. Sometimes if it is too cold to go out, I do some yoga to move my body. Also, I give myself permission to paint a couple of flowers with my watercolors and simply enjoy what comes out.”

—Alicia de la Peña

Revisit old photos that spark joy

“Looking at vacation photos (online or even better when I get them printed in an album or photo book), gives me a jolt of happiness. Reminiscing about the past experience of walking on a sandy beach or exploring the sights in a new city, fills me up with joy. It also motivates me to start planning the next getaway, or at least filing away ideas for a time when travel will once again be an easy reality.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France 

Change your inner dialogue  

“I learned a long time ago that my attitude can make all of the difference in the world.  Whether it’s the cold, dark and long days of the winter season, or just because I’m stuck in a rut with a project, I go back to my ‘Can’t say can’t, won’t say won’t” attitude and it makes all of the difference! I believe it was Henry Ford who said, ‘Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.’  Keeping a positive attitude and moving forward does work.”

—John Riddle, freelance writer, author, and ghostwriter, Bear, DE

Visualize yourself talking to your kids

“When lacking motivation, I visualize myself explaining the details of why I’m not moving forward to my two teenage daughters. It usually takes less than two minutes for me to realize that my lack of motivation is really a lack of prioritization. After that, I get back on track pretty quickly!”

—Jen Leary, CEO of CLA, LLP, Charlotte, NC 

Find inspiration in someone else’s story

“When finding myself in a slump, I always reflect on the inspiration from a great comeback story and begin writing my own. First, I visualize all the steps it will take me unstuck and the end state of achieving these milestones. Then, I put all of the steps into an action plan with daily successes metrics to celebrate all of the small achievements along the way to vision fulfillment. Lastly, I focus on the power of self-motivation, because no one else is in charge of my comeback but me.”

—James Petrossi, president of PTNL, Austin, TX

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.