By Olga Kennedy
Summer’s winding down. The days are getting shorter. You’re waking up and feeling a certain crispness in the air. Winter must be on the way.
The statuses of your Facebook friends welcome the change in weather—finally, some cooler weather…tired of the swelter, they post. But if you’re like me, you’re dreading the winter. It’s not really the coldness or the inconvenience that the cold weather brings me. It’s more time to dress the kids. More travel time, as the rain, snow and ice come. More bouts with runny noses and hacking coughs. More darkness in the mornings at the bus stop. More darkness in general.
It’s been the same for as long as I can remember. When the coldness comes and stays, my entire world changes. It gets harder to get motivated. I want to stay in bed longer (not that it’s ever exciting for me to wake up at 6 a.m.). I want to stay in pajamas all day. I don’t want to go out. Make no mistake, I do get up and I do get dressed and go to work and take care of the kids and the dog and the house and life, in general, but it’s a chore during the colder months of the year.
It’s the winter blues. You’ve heard of the term. It’s related to the amount of sunlight we receive. When our bodies get sunlight, our serotonin levels are increased (that’s good). But darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, and that makes us lethargic (that’s bad).
It’s easy to succumb to the winter blues but what kind of life would that be for me or my kids or for anyone in my world? So every year, I make it a point to do what I can to counter the sluggishness that wants to take me over.
I keep the curtains pulled back and let as much natural light come in, and I keep the lights on in the house all the time. Okay, not all the time, but definitely more than usual. The brightness makes it less dark literally and actually helps me feel more awake.
I make it a point to go outside and sit in the sun, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes. I let the warmth of the sun penetrate my skin.
I run around. I skip. I jump. I do a little more exercise than usual. They say you should exercise regularly anyway, three times a week, but if I can’t get to the gym, I at least try to be a little bouncier in the house. It’s easy to be goofy when you have kids, too. It gets my heart rate going and the blood flowing.
I make it a point to hang out and socialize even if I don’t feel like it. Once I get out there, there’s no point in moping and not having a good time, is there? And, c’mon, usually when you’re around friends, you have a good time no matter what you’re doing.
And finally I definitely work against myself and make myself wrap the kids up and just go outside. Whether we’re in the yard or the park or just taking a walk, we get our butts outside and make a day of it—or at least a couple of hours of it. One year, we took the lid of a storage bin, sat on it and slid down the icy cul-de-sac. We go out and look at people’s fall/winter decorations. We walk around the lake and take in the differences we see from the summer walk around the lake.
We try to and do come to embrace what winter has to offer. Like the other seasons, winter brings its own beauty to appreciate. And that’s something I have to remember. It’s not something I have to dread.