Winter Haters Gonna Hate?
I sit here writing this on a snow day (the bomb cyclone day actually). School is canceled and work is closed...And I have loads of time to sit and think about my deep rooted hatred of the winter. I am outdoorsy. I feel cold in sunny, 70 degree weather, and I get irritable sitting in one place for too long. Winter and I don't get along. It happens every year: I spend December through March Pricelining trips to the Caribbean, cringing at my pasty thighs, and longing for the time when I no longer have to spend 20 minutes wrestling my children into winter gear before leaving the house. I don't think I am officially in that 6% of people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but every year I battle the winter blues. THIS year I am hoping to change that. Through mindfulness and a little bit of planning I hope to break that cycle, and maybe even start to love the winter?
I few weeks ago I realized I spend entirely too much time and energy just thinking about how much I loathe the winter. Most of this battle is taking place in my head, and in the meantime I am missing out on amazing moments right in front of me. Yeah, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean my whole life SUCKS. So I gave myself some tasks to challenge my perspective during the colder months. It’s an experiment, but let’s see what happens! If it works maybe I won't have to move to California.
Every time I find my self ruminating on how much the cold, dark winter is killing my soul, I simply start to observe the world around me. I catch my children cuddling and chatting with one another, the beauty of the sun against the snow covered trees, or the warmth of a cup of hot tea in my hands. Life can be SO GOOD. But you can forget this if you get tied up in the clutter of your brain. Another thing I do to stay connected to the present moment - Make a gratitude list of things I am thankful for TODAY (my health, my family, my friends, leggings, burritos, CHOCOLATE...). When I am mindful in this way there is no room for complaining, worry, and rumination. The more I grow into mindfulness the happier I feel.
I know I cannot change the weather, but I CAN change my actions. Do I have to sit around whining for 3 to 4 months out of the year? NO. I can choose to do something better with my time. I can make plans with friends, visit museums, try a new restaurant, or as we did yesterday -- splurge on a membership at a luxury gym/spa for the winter. I also scrounged up a used spin bike to have at home, so cardio no longer requires leaving the house. Upping the in-home workouts can not only kill time, but boost mood as well. (And the stock piling of long underwear and leg warmers really helps a lot.) A little cold weather can't get you down if you make choices to support your needs - warmth, companionship, food, and of course exercise.
I know this is a little contradictory of my last point, but winter is a wonderful time to slow down and do things that feel comforting to the soul. Bomb cyclones pretty much force you to chill out and stay in one place. Meditation, yoga, bubble baths, good books, and cooking are calming and therapeutic activities that I enjoy regularly when we are cooped up. And I am now trying to savor the times I sit quietly reading books with my girls by a cozy fire, without having to rush off anywhere. We can just be. Maybe it even means taking up a new indoor hobby like painting, knitting, crafting beer, or building things in the garage (if I had a garage)? The point is, instead of constantly resisting what winter is, maybe I can embrace it, and welcome the downtime as an opportunity to explore a different side of myself - One that can be comfortable an happy on a cold, dark afternoon.
So, I am going to take these ideas and practice them. If you have a similar outlook on winter I will invite you to do the same. I will be posting some challenges on Instagram and you can play along too. Just tag me @mindbodyfitnessnyc and #wintermindfulnesschallenge