Every year, during the winter season, I feel that pull to start staying indoors more and go out less. Especially when the short days of winter begin. Most of us are effected by it. Right around 5 o’clock, it’s so dark outside my body feels like it’s almost time for bed and it shocks me that all I want to do is put on pajamas and curl up on the couch. I’m typically a pretty active person. All summer long and into the fall, I’m out and about either working or taking my daughter on fun excursions and in search of new adventures. Suddenly it begins getting dark at 4 and my body physiologically feels the difference. It’s kind of an amazing phenomenon when you think about it. So what do you do when you feel this way? Do you succumb to the overwhelming urge to just lay down and do nothing? Do you force yourself to do a few odds and ends around the house and then lay down to relax? Maybe you do that in the beginning and then decide you have to fight this slothful feeling and find ways to energize yourself despite the lack of sunlight.
This year, the time change really seemed to hit me worse than other years. I was really feeling unmotivated by the time I got home from work. I decided to leave things where they were instead of making the place immaculate. I started liking the way it looked to leave my projects out with balls of lacing thread lined up on my bookshelf in varying colors, a pair of scissors, a yarn needle, pencils and crochet hooks popping out the tops of the thread like it was a pin cushion. My handwritten snowflake and earring patterns could be found stuffed underneath. All of our scrapbooking supplies with a Shutterfly envelope stuffed full of pictures sat stacked on top of a small table near the couch. I’d leave the dishes in the sink for a couple days or put off getting to all of the mail at once. These weren’t things I’d do as much before the time change, but I realized I just needed to ease into the season and rest more than usual until I got used to it. I’ve talked to other people about the effects of the time change and a lot of people have said they feel more tired than previous years. Maybe we’re getting old?
Now, that I’ve had time to adjust, I’ve been finding more exciting ways to get out to do new things and make fun memories with my daughter, family & friends. Before Christmas, we made plans to go to NYC with a close friend and explore the city during Christmas time. Occasionally, I work out there and I love walking back to Grand Central Station at night after work. I have a new appreciation for Christmas window displays at Macy’s and just how beautifully decorated everything is. I love the Christmas lights, the wreaths and walking through Bryant Park at night to watch the ice skaters and to just take in the view of happy people enjoying themselves. For all those reasons, I decided this year that I wanted to wander around and share these special things with people I loved. It was cold out and somehow that made it even more fun. We went to Saks Fifth Avenue, saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral all decorated for Christmas–it was the first time seeing that for each of us, we accidentally walked passed Trump Towers–not realizing until we saw a female police officer dressed in full riot gear with a huge gun almost the same height as her. We milled around the inside of the Rockefeller Center, not knowing NBC records the news & the Today Show there or that it was built like a mall with lots of interesting stores and places to eat. Really, we saw and did so much while we were there and it was all a blast. Even stopping at a Starbucks to get coffee and a lemonade for my daughter was so much more fun to do than in upstate NY because it was different than our everyday routines. Really, going out to try different things or to share things you love with people who are important to you breathes more life into your soul. So, what else have I gone out to do that may help you to think of things that you can do to get more into that happy frame of mind?
Exercise, especially running or cardio strength training, helps me to get a little spunk back. I started tracking my runs with an app called Runtopia last July. Again, since the dark days of winter started, I’ve been feeling less desire to workout. Yesterday, I was feeling apprehensive and I knew I needed to get back on my treadmill to pound out the stress. Part of what got me on that treadmill was remembering the endorphin release when I run and part of it was that I thought it would be really cool to do one last run for 2017 and record it with Runtopia. Let me tell you, it helped me to feel so much better. God knows what we need and He gave us exercise to keep us healthy mentally & physically. Did you know that exercise is the most potent and underutilized antidepressant? And it’s free… I read this meme posted on Instagram and I said to myself, “Amen! That is so true!”
Something else that helps is starting new traditions that you love so much you would rather do them than sit on the couch. Particularly, something that challenges you in a way that you enjoy because you have fun, you impress yourself with your ability to do it and it comes with a great reward that is healthy for your mind, body and soul. Last, New Year’s Day, my daughter and I bundled ourselves up to go hiking up a mountain that was mostly vertical. This year, we made a tradition out of it and went back again to start our year out with an adventure. Wow, we forgot how breathless this climb would be! We invited someone special to come with us this time and we got the cardio endurance work out of the year. This time we went with ice cleats on our boots and made it to the top much faster. The view, the feat and the fact that we made it to the top was so uplifting. We were all smiling despite our sore legs. And we learned some great things from that hike like how to work as a team, to look out for each other in order to keep each other safe, outdoor survival skills, how to have fun in the cold and to be prepared for anything. Traditions like this build great relationships and give us more things we can look forward to doing as a family. They make great memories and definitely help me to stay active in the winter. If you want to chase away the winter blues and start laughing more again, I encourage you to try out some of these ideas.