If I had my preference, I’d probably stick to shooting all of my outdoor scenes in three seasons: Spring, Summer and Fall. Don’t get me wrong, snow is beautiful. Those glistening, powdery flakes are mesmerizing and set the stage for so many wonderful backdrops, but a day (okay, two) is enough for me. Working while dredging through the stuff (on top of cold temps) gets to be downright annoying if not cumbersome. Yes, I realize, some folks really come alive and thrive at the first sight of snow. They want to wallow and whisk through it all season long. Not this reformed skier. One good dusting will suffice.
I’m convinced that I’m among the majority of Americans much more inclined to hibernate through the Winter months, yet aware that kind of thinking is delusional if you’re not a bear. So, in the midst of my internal, non-productive complaining and cursing the dull and drab of Winter, I’m turning my energy toward the positive. What I found are three things to focus on that really help to make the most of these not-so-popular months.
Heart health: According to cardiologists, daily time spent outdoors, even when it’s cold, is more beneficial than not. First, fresh air is good for lung function, adding a boost to immunity and mood levels. If your occupation has you outside for any amount of time, that means work smart not hard, be aware of the elements, dress in layers and add some exercise while you’re out there. If you work indoors all day, find 20 minutes or more to get moving outside. Moderate exercise – even a low impact hike or light shoveling gets the circulation flowing. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, natural vitamin D does a body good, especially this time of year when levels run low due to less sun exposure. That leads into my second point.
Mental health: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real problem, for a lot of susceptible people. Depression can set in with more time spent indoors, and out of natural sunlight. Holistic experts and psychiatrists recommend light therapy, vitamin D supplements, proper diet and/or outdoor exercise for sufferers. Even for those who haven’t been diagnosed with a seasonal disorder, it’s always beneficial to take breaks from the computer screen, meet friends and colleagues for face-to face conversation, finish the book you put down, write a personal note or letter (by hand), watch a play or movie that makes you laugh, or finish a crossword puzzle, to maintain mental acuity and ward off seasonal doldrums.
Spiritual health: There is a sense of serenity when we stop and breathe and take in the wonder of Winter. A calm spirit opens the door to a thankful heart and there is so much to be grateful for no matter your circumstance. Breathing is a start. Use that energy to nourish other souls. For example, volunteer to check in on someone elderly or shut in. Prepare a meal, perform a warm gesture or provide mental nourishment to those who are hungry, cold or lonely. The more you take time to care for spiritual self, the less you think inward, and the more you can give outward.
The bottom line:
- Make your work count – dress for the weather, pack proper gear and prioritize your schedule
- Force yourself to get out more – staying social and active wards off Winter blues
- Find a cause or hobby that gives back – it’ll keep you focused on what matters not the minutiae
We’ve all heard the saying there can come ‘beauty from ashes.’ I’ll add to that by acknowledging we could do more to recognize the beauty that exists beyond the icicles. Happy Winter!