I love summer. Everything about summer makes me happy—the heat, the time spent outside, the long lazy days, the flip flops. I feed off of the beauty of the summer and during those months I’m happy, relaxed, and energized. I enjoy spring as well as the flowers bloom, the trees bud, and the world erupts in color and warmth.
Winter, on the other hand, is my kryptonite. Winter makes me tired and miserable. Winter sucks my energy like a sponge making it difficult for me to find motivation to do much of anything. Mild annoyances become huge sources of aggravation. Simple errands and tasks become chores. I have to work very hard to find any activity that I could describe as enjoyable. For me, “winter fun” is an oxymoron since I simply cannot understand why anyone would choose to be outside, cold and wet, and weighed down by three layers of clothing.
This winter I decided, however, that I would not wallow in pity and I would not spend the winter simply passing the time. I have been working hard to appreciate and enjoy this life I’ve been given especially since I’ve simultaneously accepted the fact that it is definitely fleeting. So, I’ve found a few ways to stay positive and (usually) happy these last few months.
1. Exercise. Yes, it’s true. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. I am a runner but past winters I have taken a break from running (and exercising in general) because cold-weather running makes me feel like I’m dying. This year, however, I pulled out the credit card and splurged on a gym membership. I’m back to exercising at least 30 minutes, four times a week and I feel fantastic. Running warms me up quite literally but figuratively as well. I always used my time during a run as time alone in my head. I make lists, plan for work, daydream, blast music, or simply zone out. I hadn’t truly realized how much I missed that alone time during the winter months. I hadn’t appreciated how much I need that time to recharge my busy brain. Exercising also helps me feel better about my health and improves my general self-esteem. I feel powerful and strong when I run and I was missing that vital piece of my self-image in the winter.
2. Get out of the house. My first instinct during the winter is to hibernate and refuse all invitations to get out. Hanging around the house every weekend, however, inevitably leads to cranky children and a general feeling of fatigue and disgust (often from the amount of food I eat when I’m bored at home). This winter, however, I’ve tried to be out and about a bit more. My husband and I have gone out to dinner, we’ve taken the kids to the arcade and bowling, and I spent a fun evening out laughing with my friends. There are many fun activities to do during the winter months both with and without kids that are indoors. It simply takes a little motivation to find them, put the coat on, and get out there.
3. Take a mini-vacation. My husband and I just returned from spending the long President’s Day Weekend in Washington, DC. We planned this trip in the fall and knowing my long, miserable winter would be broken up by a fun weekend away with my family helped me stay positive through January. We spent those few days together visiting fun places, eating in good restaurants, sleeping in a nice hotel (kids LOVE hotels), and avoiding the ordinary tasks and responsibilities of our lives. We returned refreshed and ready to cruise through the rest of this season.
4. Plan for the summer. As soon as the holidays had wrapped up I turned my thoughts to summer. Instead of simply longing for those glorious months, however, I began to make plans. We have booked our summer vacation and we also planned a few weekend trips and excursions. Both music lovers, my husband and I stalked our favorite musicians’ webpages for concert announcements and have purchased tickets for several shows in June and July. I’ve begun to talk to my children about camp options and we are doing some research to find the best options for their interests. As we fill up our calendar with upcoming fun, the summer doesn’t feel so far away. Instead of spending my time focused on how miserable the weather is or how grey and ugly my commute is every day, my busy brain is occupied making plans (and lists of course) for our upcoming fun.
5. Live for the moments. This winter I’ve decided to appreciate some of the moments only this season can bring. Snow days spent cuddled under a blanket with my kids on the couch, lazy Sunday mornings spent drinking my morning coffee still warm under the covers, my youngest looking absolutely adorable in her winter hat, freshly baked muffins eaten in front of my fireplace with a good book, the beauty of fresh snow covering the tree branches, a pair of fabulous boots and my much loved winter slippers, the hilarity of watching my kids bundled up and barely able to walk in their snow pants and boots playing in the snow. I’m finding happiness in these moments and that happiness is carrying me through.
So perk up summer lovers, our season will be here soon. In the meantime, find some ways to get out there, have some fun, and look for the beauty winter has to offer.