It’s almost the end of January and I seem to have survived the New Year without gaining too much weight or damaging my liver. Now, with Christmas gone and spring still months away, I find myself once again trying to look on the bright side of this long, cold and rather sunless season. While I don’t suffer from full-fledged seasonal affective disorder (SAD), I do, at times, struggle to get my mind up and over the short, often overcast days that seem to pop up, one after the other, chipping away at my psyche.
Popular women’s magazines would offer up a laundry lists of peppy how-tos for “Making the Most of Old Man Winter!” #1: Take up a winter sport! #2: Take a nice hot bath! #3: Bake your favourite dessert and fill the house with the smell! The triteness of them only depresses me more.
I have my own formula for coping — one that doesn’t involve eating or alcohol.
Winter tends to be a season when we turn inward. Post-holidays, with a new year upon us, we reflect. We think about what we’ve done, what lies ahead, and what it all means. Frankly, it can get a bit Freudian. So what do I do? Well, not to sound equally trite, but I go out and walk. Yes, it’s cold out. Yes, I need to bundle up, which I’m not terribly fond of doing. But I always find the effort is worth it. I’m not a gym kind of girl. I’m not into running (too daunting). I tried hot yoga awhile back and found it… too damned hot.
But I like to walk. It’s easy. It’s accessible. And it pulls my out of myself — something I need to do on a regular basis. Years ago, in my teens, when I was worrying out loud one day about something or other (God knows what), my wise (and himself worrisome) dad once said to me: “Tad, you know what? A disease is not going to get you; worry is going to get you.”
And so, when I feel those niggling worries starting to sneak up on me and snake around me (and they’re always harder to shake at this time of year), I get the heck outta Dodge and go for a walk. No, it’s not a magic tonic, and yes, I have to work at it. But getting my heart rate up, even just a bit, and throwing a few endorphins into the mix makes me feel like I’m doing something about the blahs rather than just thinking about them.
#2: Stay cozy.
In any season—but especially in this one—I’m a big fan of all things cozy. Cozy blankies. Cozy sweats. Warm, cozy fires. At the risk of sounding like a women’s magazine, I have to say that coming in from the cold and getting warm is one of the (few) perks of winter. Maybe it’s the old “hit-yourself-with-a-hammer-‘cause-it-feels-good-when-you-stop” philosophy. All I know is, in the dark days of winter, you have to accentuate the positive. For me, that means coming in from a walk and appreciating a cozy house. It means making a hot drink, grabbing a nearby cat and hunkering down in front of a good movie.
Tell the truth, I actually kinda like winter. Until December 31st, anyway. After that, it starts to wear on me. Again, my cheep and cheerful tonic is not always guaranteed; however, it’s amazing how a stretch of the gams and some snuggling down is enough to put me in my happy place—for awhile—and get me through the night.