How is this winter going for you? If you are anything like me, February is the toughest month to get though. Instead of making a warm weather get away this year we decided to get the bathroom redone. Looking out my window at the grayness and piles of snow while cringing from the shrill screeches of power tools down the hall I can’t help but wish we had done both. And preferably at the exact same time. But I am not here to complain about anything. I am here to say that I have found a few outlets that have made my winter blues somewhat more bearable and you just may want to try them too.
I’ve been moving a lot less this winter, as are most of you from what you tell me. It drags me down when I slack off too much like this. We all know we feel better when we move! We can blame the weather and lack of motivation all we want for not staying active but those are only excuses.
I am a huge believer in the magical powers of exercising the body and hopefully you are in agreement. And by exercise I don’t mean in the sense that most people think of it– a way to torture yourself for the purpose of weight loss. If that is how you see exercise then you are most certainly doing it wrong. I am referring to exercise as in moving your body in a way that makes you feel good– both physically and emotionally.
Exercise nourishes our bodies and souls in much the same ways that good food does.
As someone who craves the meditative repetitive motion of walking, running and biking I can get a little antsy when snow and ice keep me from my activities. Exercise is therapy for me and while I know it’s great for the health of my physical body, what really keeps me going back for more is how it makes me feel. Just as crucial for my sanity is being outside. I’ve managed a few precious walks this winter but after the snow piled up too much I gave up. And like everyone else, the weather became my excuse for not going out.
Is it really too cold or snowy to go for a walk or is that just what we’ve been telling ourselves? One morning it dawned on me out of nowhere that I had some time before work, the sun was (sort of) out, the temperature was above the teens (barely), and I decided I wasn’t going to let winter stop me. Trudging in my boots I made my way to the path in the woods by my house that was traveled by only a few sets of footprints and dog prints. It was unplanned, as if something outside of myself pulled me there saying enough was enough, and it turned out to be the best thing I could have done for myself. Since then, I’ve made a point to get out knowing that snowy trails can be amazing for walking.
Don’t let winter stop you from getting out for a walk. I know you have boots, a hat, gloves and a coat. And we can all make time and find a way for what is important to us.
Another great walk when it’s not too windy and cold is the beach– and I always forget about it for some reason but there’s no snow to struggle through, the water is breathtakingly gorgeous and there are happy dogs. Is there anything that can stir up feelings of freedom and joy more than dogs running down a beach?
Walking out in nature, be it the woods or along the ocean, gets you away from all those screens and windshields in our lives, clears our head and generates thoughts and ideas. You see things from a fresh perspective and your mood and outlook improve. Plus, the woods and beach are safer than walking on the streets.
My strategy for fitting walks into winter is to plan them according to the weather. Check the forecast, see what the temps will be for the upcoming week, choose what looks best and schedule it into your day– last Sunday after the morning snow, we had a sunny afternoon of 40 degrees! I made a point to get to the beach for a much needed jog. It did wonders for my soul to run after so long.
When it’s really just ridiculously too cold and windy outside for walks or runs, rollerskating is a fun alternative! I grew up on my roller skates with my neighborhood friends. We had birthday parties at roller rinks. Several years ago I got nostalgic for it all and had a brief stint with Providence Rollerderby. So fun but so dangerous. Then I decided it was important to keep my spine intact and called it quits.
But the Ocean Club in Narragansett is a fantastic place to go to skate for joy. You’re somewhat limited to Thursday nights unless you have kids. We made the mistake of once going on a Friday night which is teens night and a Saturday midday which was a crazy kamikaze little kids scene. Thursday nights is oldies night and I guarantee you will find an amusing array of characters there and hear many old songs you were glad you forgot about as well as a few cool ones. You won’t be able to help but smile as you glide around in freedom from the snow and ice, stretching and using your leg muscles and letting your imagination run wild with memories. It’s a guaranteed soul moving time.
My other saving grace this winter has been hot yoga classes. I first tried yoga many years ago with a Denise Austin yoga VCR tape that I did over and over again until I could recite her word for word. I went to a few classes here and there but my mentality was: why pay for classes and have to leave my living room? But then a new yoga studio opened up 2 miles from me with reasonable prices and something told me to give it a try. My attitude initially revolved around how the heat will be a treat to help me get through the cold winter and the exercise will give me something to do in place of running and biking. And that is how it began until I noticed a subtle but powerful change within me. I really loved how I felt at yoga class. I loved how I felt after it was over. I craved going. The people there exert an energy of love and peace. I forget my fears and calm down, I get stronger (mentally and physically) and everything is okay at yoga. I’ve learned so much so far and I know there is so much more I can learn and this makes me so happy deep inside. And the heat…..ahhhhh.
The weather is not going to change for the better anytime too soon. But it will change, as everything does. 🙂 We’ll all be back to loving the warmth of sunshine on our skin and walking in shorts and bare feet. Winter isn’t all bad; look at how it makes us appreciate the spring, summer and fall. It gives us hope and something to look forward to. Find some fun in winter and when you feel the blahs, know you can change things by making the decision to move your body and soul.