by Margaret Murray
ver wonder why bears hibernate? Why birds fly south and why so many from the Midwest winter in Florida? Winters can be tough—cold, wet, windy and, most of all, gray. When daylight savings moved later in the year, day became night. Driving home in the dark saps energy, makes driving more difficult, and encourages a short night when you finally get home. Some easy steps can make winter, if not joyful, at least tolerable.
Rise and Shine
Start the day with your coffee, tea or juice by savoring that first sip. Smell the coffee, enjoy the taste, take a deep breath. After that first cup, take time to stretch. Even extending your arms overhead and shrugging your shoulders can energize you. When you take the dog outside, look at the sunrise or relish that bit of sunshine. Use the time outside to walk the length of your driveway a couple times and get in some easy steps before the daily hustle.
Before you get in the car, make sure you take out the wrappers, the empties and the coupons. Put in a bottle of water, make sure you have a blanket and a windshield scraper, and plug in your charger. Download some podcasts or a book from Audible to listen on the trip. Many drivers believe books are for long-distance trips. Listening to an author you enjoy makes the little trips enjoyable. A few minutes of a good book will engage your mind, keep you from worrying about the driver who cut you off or trying to shave a few minutes off your commute. You have heard it said, it’s about the journey, not the destination. This is especially true with your work commute.
During the winter months, we do not have the fresh local produce we enjoy through the summer. That does not mean we cannot enjoy our meals. Try new items that you have overlooked like naan and baba ganoush, or arugula with goat cheese and pears. Like apple pie? Slice an apple and sprinkle it with cinnamon. Grocery stores offer so many choices if we just take the time to consider what we might like. The important point is to break from your work even for 10-20 minutes, to talk to friends, or to get out of your workspace. With the long, dark days, it is critical to recognize that the day seems longer and a mini-break during the day is essential.
Ever get home and think, I’m just going to eat dinner and go to bed? Ever think that on a Friday? We would never think that on a summer day. When you arrive home, turn on the lights. Turn on music or a television show you enjoy. Try some top chef recipes. Make a plan to clear the kitchen counter and make the coffee for the next morning. Clean out your bag of the stuff you brought home and hang up your coat. Go through your mail when you bring it in the house and immediately sort it—recycle, bills, or read. For your bills, put the stamp and return sticker on the envelope to be paid during the weekend. Take time to read to your children, to play a game with the family, or to read part of a book.
When it is time for bed, make it a ritual. Wash your face, maybe take your shower the night before work, put away your shoes and yours clothes, and clear your bathroom counter. Maybe watch a sitcom that you’ve seen before or the Earth on the Discovery Channel. The key is to watch something distracting that does not make your heart race. Use your iPad if you enjoy it but limit games, Facebook scrolling, and emails to less than 30 minutes. Set a timer on the tv and start to doze.
If you are lucky, you can plan a trip somewhere warm. If you do, look at the options ahead of time to enjoy the anticipation of the vacation. During the dark winter months, start planning your flower beds, your holidays—Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Think about guest lists and plan menus.
Savor the rest that winter brings with thoughts of the energy summer demands. Think like a bear.