I have had a lot of conversations lately with people lamenting the long winter — and the monotony of being confined for the last year. While acknowledging that it will indeed be nice when the days are warm and sunny here in the North East, and that it will be even nicer when the world opens back up in a “normal” way, we can’t postpone enjoying life. So what to do?
- Make sure you are moving. I found that since winter started, my days have been much more sedentary. Worse than the additional softness around my middle, it contributes to being more tired and also less upbeat. A friend recently recommended doing 3 jumping jacks before my first meeting of the day. Another friend recommended standing up while working on the computer. I loved both of these suggestions, and I added two more — the first is to do jumping jacks whenever I have a free moment, and in particular when I am doing things like waiting a minute for the microwave to “ding”. The second is to do more phone calls than Zoom meetings, and walk (even just around the apartment) while talking on the phone. I can end up walking for two solid hours, which is way more movement than I had been getting!
- Eat well. While it is always important, it is easy to focus on “comfort food” when the weather is cold and dreary. Consider vegan soup as a warm and nourishing alternative to more calorie laden meals. The added benefits is that you can make a big pot to cut down on mid-week cooking! Two of my favorites are here and here. Drink tons of water and lighten up on caffeine and alcohol.
- Focus on something new that brings you joy. I was speaking with someone who was talking about how much they enjoy playing the guitar but hadn’t been doing it. There are so many excellent guitar tutorials on YouTube (I personally have enjoyed Marty Music, but there are lots of others too!). It could be painting, or writing, sewing or learning a language. I just started a new course on Rosetta Stone- and just 10 minutes a day is a real mental break from “normal” work.
- Volunteer! No matter how challenged your situation is, you can gain perspective by helping others in need. There is a lot that can be done remotely- such as helping people with writing their resumes who are looking for work, or advising a college student who is trying to figure out what career to pursue. One of my favorite remote volunteer experiences is with CareerSpring- it’s a great way to offer your experience as help to someone who ie early in their career and looking for answers- and it is entirely remote, and you can dedicate as little as 30 minutes a month.
- Find ways to be on vacation at home. Creating a spa-like environment with candles and a bubble bath can transport you to a very different mental state. Reading a great book can immerse you in an entirely new world. Carve out a physical space that is away from where you do your work so you can rejuvenate and not feel “on call” 24/7. Put your phone and computer in a drawer and get away from it all- at least for a little while!
Being proactive about enjoying life is essential. We can’t control things like pandemics or winter weather, but we can certainly control our outlook and some aspects of our surroundings. Here’s to a sunny future, and to enjoying all the days of our lives to the fullest!