Dealing With the Winter Blahs

Four weeks ago I was feeling the beginnings of what I’ve pretty much accepted as what my adult life is right now: Shorter, colder days mean an increasingly bleak outlook on life. Add to that the fact that my job is ending at the end of December (not my choice) and I had no project at all to work on and I was in a pretty awful state.

Sage and I had a chat – we’re both really good at figuring out what the other needs and she was exceptional. I had sunken in to a routine of simple existence – imagine a goldfish just floating, sometimes it goes lower, sometimes it turns to face another pane of glass but mostly it just floats watching. 

We looked at all of the things I cared about, or made me feel especially good. And we made a deal: I would just do them, regardless of whether I felt great about it, whether I was busy that day. If not, then there were penalties – some financial, some even worse – like cleaning the litter box. if I didn’t follow through.

And so we have:

Spend 30 minutes working on Hindi – maybe it’s watching Youtube, maybe it’s listening to a Podcast or watching Masterchef India. Whatever it is, it has to happen.

I also exercise 30 minutes a day. That’s not walking to the store, that’s raising my heart rate and breaking a sweat. I do that 6 days a week. One rest day. I can do lower intensity recovery rides to give myself a break, but this has to happen. This will increase in duration as time goes on until I leave for India in Jan.

I go outdoors: This may sound weird to some people, but living in the city in a highrise I can go days if I want without leaving the building. If I have enough food, everything else is easy. But seeing other humans is really good. Feeling the ground under my feet is good. Breathing outside air is good.

And the last one is how I’m tricking myself in to a bit of a project: I’m writing at least 15 minutes a day. That’s a great amount and often I exceed it as the biggest barrier to writing is not writing, it’s starting writing. And so that book I’ve been thinking about doing for a decade or so is starting to come together a few hundred words at a time.

And what’s the result? I feel pretty great. I’m less worried about my job ending and starting to get excited for the future. I’m inspired about writing and visiting libraries as a part of Toronto by Library, and cooking new dishes.

Sure, it’s not 25 and sunny outside. I’m not riding my bike along the Martin Goodman trail feeling the warm breeze off the lake on a day that seems to have been light forever. But in the end it isn’t bothering me. I can’t speak for others, but what makes me sad about winter is not the darkness and cold but the fact that I use that darkness and cold as an excuse to disrupt my routine and to sit like a goldfish in his bowl from November to April. After all, goldfish are not really known for their joie de vivre.

So for sure, do take your vitamin D (I am for sure!), use your full spectrum lamps and all, but have a look at your lifestyle as well. Maybe there are other deficiencies in your winter life that have nothing to do with the sun or the temperature outdoors.

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