Every spring, and again every fall, I find myself feeling a bit lost. I skip workouts, or ignore my weekend to-do lists, and feel generally either frantic (usually in the spring) or discontented (in the fall). I’ve come to realize that my schedule needs to be readjusted seasonally.
In the spring and summer, most of my spare time is spent outside, either in my flower garden or my family’s big vegetable garden. The weekends are filled with cookouts, trips to the creek, boat outings, free concerts, camping, parties, and other outside activities. It’s hot, so I exercise earlier in the day, usually first thing. I don’t love exercise in the morning, but that’s what works best when it’s 90 degrees at noon.
In the fall and winter, I have to chide myself to go outside. There’s nothing happening in the garden, other than a long list of chores that need to be done, and especially since the pandemic, friends and family aren’t having many indoor gatherings. I want to find the beauty in winter, and be comfortable with the colder temperatures (and let’s be honest here: I live in Tennessee, where it’s rarely below freezing during the day) but I’m still not there. I move my exercise to the afternoon, or in less virulent times, I go to the gym. I detest wearing layers of clothes and constantly cold toes and fingers make me cranky.
Knowing that the lack of sunshine and activity is going to affect my mental health, I’ve started focusing on projects that bring me joy and that are easier to do during the winter. I’m learning to quilt – all by hand – and find it a relaxing, fulfilling hobby. I read much more during the cold weather, and work on making my habitat more pleasant. I cook more and am always delighted to have some of the garden produce preserved. This year, I’m adding writing fiction back into the mix after neglecting it for a couple of anxiety-filled years.
One of the unexpected gifts of the pandemic was a focus on self-care during the winter. Going into the cold months of 2020 I challenged myself to find ways to enjoy being at home, and tried to embrace the idea of hygge. It worked, to some degree. I did much more decorating during the holidays, and wrote letters to friends and family I’d usually see. I printed and framed a bunch of family photos and made a big gallery wall that I love.
Even with all the activities and self care, I still found myself depressed by the end of January. This year, I’m going to try even harder to spend time outside to see if that helps. There are a couple of hikes that I want to do and I’m building a better cold weather wardrobe. I’ve returned to running after taking a year off, and that means being outside — oddly, I quite enjoy running in cooler weather, once I motivate myself to get out there — so hopefully that will help too.
I’m also trying to work about two hours a day more while it’s cold out. It seems reasonable to work a bit more when the garden isn’t calling me to come see what’s blooming. Plus, my work brings me great satisfaction and January is an excellent time for marketing.
Do you find your schedule changes significantly during the winter?
I must be part-bear, because the minute we hit those pre-dinner sunsets and exit Daylight Saving Time ends, I feel my blood turning into molasses. You’d think that someone who avoids being OUT in nature wouldn’t be that affected by the changes in the seasons, but the weather sure has an impact. When it’s dark, rainy, and gloomy (like late winter/early spring), I’m useless all day unless someone else is needing my energy. When I’m working with clients, I’m fine; on my own, a dismal day means dismal motivation. Meanwhile, the scorching heat of and brightness of summer bothers me, as well. I work out at night, race-walking outside, after dark, when the heat of the earth settles into warmth. But inside during the day, aware of the bright sun out there but enjoying the chilling A/C in here? That’s my sweet spot.
So, my schedule changes only because my motivation changes, and my motivation depends on sunlight. (And you know better than to ask about morning sunlight, because you’re well aware that I don’t do mornings.) 😉
Not much morning sunlight for me, either. And I’m with you on the molasses blood. I just want to sleep and eat all winter!
Love that you’re embracing hygge. Been doing that a lot myself lately. And looking for ways to simplify my work life. It’s too chaotic and it’s been affecting me far more than any career you love should.
Enjoy the waning days of fall!
Thanks, Lori! It’s awful when work you enjoy becomes chaotic. I have to push myself to work more, especially when my earnings are enough, and have only let the balance tip too far toward working too much a couple of times. I hope you find the simplicity you need!