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Beating the Winter Blues

It’s been an exceptionally cold winter around here (and much of the world, it seems) and by the end of January the snow and the grayness can get a bit oppressive. It feels like winter has been around forever! So I’m here to try to come up with some ways to lift the frozen depression that descends on so many people at this time.

Right now it’s 28 degrees outside, a regular heat wave! But I’ve actually been a little more depressed these last two days than usual. It’s weird, but on Monday when the temperature was -8 at 7:30 in the morning I felt amazingly happy! I was up to go meet a friend in Batavia for breakfast, so I think just getting out of the house on my own was a big boost; but also it was a glorious morning. The sky was clear. The waning half-moon was bright in the deep blue southwest. As I drove away from home the bright dawn sky was crisscrossed with glowing pink jet contrails. Then the sun blazed above the horizon and those pleasure hormones (dopamine?) lifted my spirits as daylight painted the bare trees and snowy fields with warm orange highlights and filled my dreary arctic world with light! It is utterly amazing what an effect sunshine has on the human brain. Even when it’s cold as hades!

So, I think number 1 on my list is sunshine; or those natural daylight light bulbs when the real thing is scarce. By golly, even as I write this, the sky is beginning to brighten up a bit!

The second thing that really makes me feel better is to do something creative. Several days ago I started painting a picture for a friend of ours. I haven’t done any painting (acrylic) in a very long time. And when I retreated into our back room/sanctum upstairs, set up the easel, started some music and lost myself in the flow of color, I wondered “Why the hell don’t I do this more often?!”

Suffice it to say, I’ve since gone out to purchase more canvas and a few more paints. Every April I get this swelling of creativity about doing outdoor stuff, like concrete sculpture, but why not start now in the depths of winter? I’m really looking forward to painting again! And it certainly helps the kids, also, to get involved in more art projects this time of year; whether it’s painting or drawing or Moon Sand or building things with blocks and Legos and Tinker Toys. Music and artwork; you can’t beat it!

It’s also good to get some physical activity during the winter. I’ve been sledding a couple of times with the kids, but generally it’s been too cold to be outside for very long. I suppose a membership to a gym or the ‘Y’ would be a good idea. My friend Laurie does a lot of swimming during the winter. Swimming is like a zen thing with her. Sounds great!  Which reminds me – up at the high school they used to have open swim night in late winter. I need to check that out! The kids loved it. Arthur and Fiona will be starting their home school gym class again next week, thank heavens. What I need is an adult gym class for semi-old fogies!

Another thing that gave me an inordinate amount of pleasure last week was bacon. Yes, bacon! We usually eat turkey bacon around here, but last week something prompted me to buy real, honest to goodness bacon, like, from a pig. I’m not proud of this, but by golly it tasted sublime!! (Reduced sodium bacon, too!) Not something I’d recommend to do very often, but my animal body surely savored the experience. Must be that atavistic fat-craving thing our bodies do in winter. Which is why exercise should probably be right at the top of this list!

One more thing I can think of to beat the winter blues, beside going to Hawaii, is laughter. The past few days I’ve been watching more comedies on TV (thank you again, Netflix), and it seems laughter is a mighty good medicine. I’ve especially enjoyed a BBC comedy called ‘The IT Crowd‘ that I just discovered. And speaking of television in general, we’ve all been watching the first season of the show ‘Merlin‘, and it’s really good! A different take on the Arthurian legend, but despite the retelling of the basic story and the somewhat modernization of the characters, it’s a fun show.

So this is my sage advice for today: 1) Light, 2) Exercise, 3) Creativity, 4) Laughter, 5) Bacon (in moderation, and only when combined with #2). And Dark Chocolate. I must never forget Dark Chocolate!

Think Spring!

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