Thursday, January 14, 2010

A variety of strategies to get through January

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Editorial page

I always find January to be a really long month. The joyful decorations of the Christmas season are mostly gone. All those cheerful TV commercials about wishing us peace and goodwill during the coming year are off the air. The happy advertising surrounding the holidays is now replaced by non-stop 30-second spots about cold and flu remedies that show really sick people being miserable. Is it no wonder that people find winter so long and drawn out?

That being said, we have to make up our own happiness during the coldest season of the year. If you don't like the chill in the air, put on some cozy clothing, pull up a portable heater and read a good book. Or do I like did over the holidays and get caught up on movies and TV shows that you've been neglecting since September.

If you like to take naps, the winter can be a prime time to catch a few winks. Have a pet? Cuddle up with them for extra warmth. There's nothing so comforting when the snow is blowing around outside as to lie on the sofa with a blanket over you, cuddled up to your pets, and having a nap together.

Even if you manage to fall asleep alone, they'll find you eventually. I often wake up on the sofa with one cat sprawled over the top of me with the other one curled up in the crook of my arm. I'm so used to them that I don't even notice their sneaking in for some cuddle time with "Big Man Who Feeds Them."

If you're steady on your feet and not afraid of falling, you can try going for a walk. The crisp cold air of a winter's day can be invigorating. Or if you don't like the cold air, set up some bird feeders and watch our feathered friends keep nourished during this scarce time of year for food. Even better, a heated birdbath is especially welcome because (unfrozen) water is so hard to find now.

I wish I had a dog because I know I'd end probably wanting to dress them up in a tacky outfit and taking them for a walk. We'd make fun of all the other dogs whose owners let them prance around naked in the snow. I mean, really! "Shrinkage" is a very personal thing and no one needs to know, right?

Another thing I've done in the winter is take photos of frost. I know this sounds weird, but some of the designs drawn by good ol' Jack Frost on the windows can be absolutely spectacular. With today's digital technology, you can take a really good close-up, crop it and voilĂ ! Next year's Christmas card is ready to go!

If you're like me, whenever there's a storm coming, I turn into a squirrel getting ready for winter. I feel the need to shop for groceries and cook a ton of stuff. It must be an innate sense of survival, because everyone else does the same thing. Before the last storm we received just after New Year's Day, the grocery stores were so packed that I could barely move! People weren't just buying bread and milk to get by for a day, they were stocking up for Armageddon with huge carts of good overflowing with everything from pork chops to toilet tissue. I even saw one poor woman trying to handle two very heavy and laden carts at once!

If you can't seem to keep yourself busy and find yourself getting a bit stir crazy from being inside, head to the mall. You can walk anywhere safely with no concerns about falling. Invigorate yourself with the energy found there.

I've done this a couple of times when the winter weather gets to me. First, I look through a seed catalogue. I've never planted flowers in my life, but just looking through the catalogue certainly gives one the sense that spring is inevitable and will, in fact, get here soon! Then buy a pot of tulips in bloom at a nursery. They last a couple of weeks, but the smell and look are enough to shake you into knowing that the cold and snow-covered gardens will soon turn into the fields of blooms that we all enjoy.

If the dirty slushy snow is getting to you, take a whiff of these flowers and get an instant boost of nature and pleasure. Do it while you're watching the birds at the birdfeeder and get even happier. And if you're really talented, do all of this while napping on the sofa with your pets at the same time and the fire department will have to peel you off the ceiling.

There are tons of things we can do when it's too cold or stormy for us to go outside. If you're a computer buff, join a social media network like Facebook or Twitter and reconnect with old friends. Take a night class at a local community college. You'd be surprised at the variety of courses they offer at a very reasonable price. For example, some of course I checked out online that are given locally include creative writing, introduction to digital cameras, oil painting basics, Vietnamese cuisine, wild bird feeding basics, yoga for beginners, and even cake decorating!

Winter's also a great time for planning for the future. Write down some goals for the next five years and then decide what can be done in the next year to achieve them. What are the reasons you want to achieve the goal? What are some of the obstacles? How can you overcome them? Writing down goals is a very powerful method of moving ahead in life. Take a course or read a book on goal-setting and then get to work rolling out your dreams! Part of the dreariness of winter is the lack of things to look forward to. Setting goals can certainly alleviate that.

Winter is what you make of it. If you're a winter hater, choose to find things to love about the next three months and you'll find that the time flies by a lot faster.

1 comment:

Paul Melanson said...

If you're a winter hater the best thing to do is find an outdoor activity to indulge (alpine or cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing) and you'll relish every snowflake that falls from the sky and weep when the temperature goes above 0C.