I’ve been in a reflective mood lately. I typically find myself here in the slower, wintry months. (Although, let’s be real: When it’s bitingly cold with whipping winds one day, then in the seventies the next, it’s hard to stay committed to one season or the other.)
This year, winter has felt a bit harsher than usual, and not in climatic terms (or because it’s teasing me with spring-like days). I actually love the cold air, grey skies, and barren tree limbs, and make the most of them as much as I can. But, the shorter, darker days and our increasingly longer and more demanding work loads don’t always play nicely together, and, more often than not, I’ve found myself rumbling with the winter blues.
Wallowing in my sorrows makes me tired and annoyed with myself, so today’s writing project: some observations on ways I’ve made peace with old man winter.
1) I take lots of walks in the fresh air. I typically have a hard time convincing myself to suit up, lace up, and head out the door, but, my sweet dogs are good motivators, and the effects are instantly gratifying. My route usually takes 15-20 minutes and sometimes I do it a couple of times a day (but especially on tougher than ordinary days).
2) I keep light, elevating company. My friend recently offered up this piece of advice and, while it’s obvious, it’s not always easy for me to stick to. But, the older (errrr, wiser) I get, the more important this has become to my overall mental health and success. I’ve had to swallow and absorb the truth that I can’t get along or enjoy everyone’s company, which used to make me feel guilty. But, one deflating encounter or conversation can leave the rest of my day (and spirits) in shambles.
3) I eat good, nourishing foods more often than not. I’ll be covering this on the Nourished blog this week, so check in there on Wednesday for more specifics.
4) I do a lot of journaling. If I give into it, the slower pace of winter offers me some space to think about the past year, and do more of the things that worked well during it. My dear-diary game is strong and I get a lot of cathartic purging out on paper instead of relying heavily on my husband, family, and friends. Journaling has helped me to become more self aware and make wiser decisions, too. Plus, I’m most creative and open when I practice morning pages.
5) I take supplements. This one is hard to generalize because it’s so individualized, but I use my knowledge in functional nutrition to gauge what is beneficial for me. When I’m consistent with my supplements, my body and mind are appreciative.
6) I commit to regular workouts because I’m not as happy, positive, or productive if I don’t. I’ve been doing barre3 workouts consistently for the past couple of years and, without being too dramatic, they’ve kind of changed my life. Having recently opened a grab-and-go restaurant, I don’t have a lot of free money to spend, but this is my one thing. I try to walk daily, but, if I don’t, I make sure to walk on the days I don’t take a class.
7) I use music to make the most of my moods. The first pre-school I went to was a music school (thank you, Mom!), and it’s played a big role in my life ever since. It soothes, inspires, focuses, and revitalizes me, and has gotten me through life’s more trying periods.
8) I dwell in the light — literally. I open all the blinds, loll about in the sun spots, etc. (One of my dogs and I compete for the sunny spots in the house but his eyes slay so he wins a lot.) I’m not as nice, energized, or useful without daily exposure, which sounds easy and obvious, but sometimes it takes effort. I even notice that some of my body aches and pains are more irksome when I don’t get a good dose of light. No matter the season, I make a point to spend 15-20 minutes in the light.
9) Warm baths help me thaw out and unwind. I bust out all the woo-woo stops and use whatever essential oils are calling my name that day, and indulge in a few other self-care practices. This is my transition between work-day mode and home life, and soothe any creaks and groans brought on by the weight of the day.
10) I’m do things that help me focus on the good stuff. Focusing on the positives comes naturally for a lot of people, but I’m prone to worry and fret, which means that negative thinking can be easier than the opposite. Jamie, my mom, and a few good friends have helped me a lot here. Jamie got me this calendar for Christmas and wrote me a dreamy note with the suggestion that I use the calendar to write one positive thing from each day. It’s helping me build the habit of dwelling on the lighter side.
So there you have it. I hope some of these tactics help lighten the rest of your winter load, so to speak, or any non-seasonal related blues you deal with, for that matter.
Thanks for being here.