7 Ways to Fuel the Stoke Through the Frigid Winter Months

Matt Rode

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Updated 351d ago

Sometimes, things simply don’t go our way. The swells stop, the wind turns onshore, work is uninspiring, we get tired and burned out, we are injured or sick, our finances are in disarray—whatever the crisis, it’s not easy to stay stoked when we aren’t winning at life. But as hard as it might be to put on a brave face, the better our attitude is, the more quickly things will start to improve.

Whether life is the pits or you are simply struggling through a slump in your surfing, here are seven ways to turn things around and fuel the stoke.

Forecacst: UK + Ireland.

Gain Some Perspective

Perspective is everything.

As bad as things might seem, they could be a lot worse. The truth is, most of us have no concept of what true suffering really feels like. We’ve never gone to bed hungry, lived through war or genocide or slept on the streets.

This isn’t to downplay your problems—but there is something to be said for keeping things in perspective. Next time you find yourself grumpy because the waves are shit or your boss is being a dick, spent a few minutes being grateful for all the blessings in your life—blessings that billions of people don’t get to enjoy, but that many of us take for granted.


Volunteering is one of the best ways to gain perspective on how good you actually have it. Spending time with people who have real problems tends to make your “shitty day” seem trivial in comparison. Plus, serving others feeds the soul and gives your life purpose, which ultimately makes you happier. Surfing-related causes such as Access Surf or a local beach cleanup are a great place to start.

Unplug From Social Media
Numerous studies have demonstrated the detrimental effect social media has on our moods and mental state. It appears to contribute to depression, low self-esteem, social isolation, sleeping problems, and lack of social skills. It also distracts us from the personal issues we need to deal with if we want to ultimately be happy.

By disconnecting from social media, we not only detach ourselves from the false, shallow world of Facebook and Instagram, we also make ourselves available to connect with other people in real life, which has been shown to nurture us on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. Turn off the phone and put yourself out there.

Get Out Into Nature

© 2021 - Tom Pearsall.

Virtually everything we own is designed to isolate us from nature, from the houses we live in and the cars we drive to the offices we work in and the cities that serve as the hubs of society. But that separation from the natural world has a potentially detrimental effect on our well-being, and may be at the very root of our unhappiness and angst.

This is why activities such as surfing, hiking, camping, or simply walking through a park are so important—they help keep us connected with nature, healing us on a spiritual, emotional, and, according to some studies, even physical level.


In a society that has become largely sedentary, the natural, mood-boosting power of exercise has practically been forgotten. But movement releases a number of “happiness hormones” in our bodies, such as endorphins and dopamine, and has actually been shown to help counteract depression. Whether you are feeling frustrated, sad, lonely, or angry, getting outside and getting some exercise nearly always helps. After-work surf sesh, anyone?

Expand Your Horizons
No matter how much you love doing something, when it becomes a routine, it’s easy to become jaded and get stuck in a rut. If you find that you are starting to take your water time for granted, or are simply not having as much fun surfing as you used to, the answer may be to expand your horizons. This could be as simple as trying a different approach to wave riding

This could be as simple as trying a different approach to wave riding (longboarding, body surfing, riding a retro fish, etc), or might involve exploring other hobbies or sports, such as rock climbing, snowboarding, or mountain biking. Not only will the cross-training aspect make you healthier and create new neuro pathways in your brain (which will likely make you a better surfer in the long run), it will also give you a short break from your routine, allowing you to come back to surfing stoked and refreshed, with a newfound appreciation for the ocean.

Give Sobriety a Try
Alcohol often seems like a good way to relax and forget about life’s stresses, especially when things aren’t going your way. But the ironic truth is that drinking actually tends to make our lives worse instead of better. It’s expensive, bad for the body, and, more often than not, results in poor life choices—all of which tend to deepen the rut that you are stuck in.

While it might not feel good in the moment, a break from alcohol will make you happier in the long run. Give sobriety a try—at the very least, it will make waking up for the dawn patrol easier.

Cover shot by Mike Newman