I have been an avid winter booer for as long as I can remember. The only thing I could enjoy was the period around Christmas with all the sparkly decoration and lights. Other than that, I simply could not bring myself to enjoy or even pretend to like this season. It has always seemed to me that it has a lot to do with the lack of light and warmth that come as early as the first week of November. As years went by, this feeling started to affect more and more areas of my life, primarily my motivation to be productive. That was when I realised I needed to stop avoiding everything that comes with winter and start doing something that would make these long days cosy and inspiring.
Embrace the longest month of the year
January seems to be the longest month of the year, not just for me but for most people I talked to about it. It intrigued me how and why a single month could be such a nuisance to so many, so I made an effort to understand why it is so for me in the first place.
I don’t like the cold, but it’s not just the cold – it’s also the grey that comes with it. Winter generally evokes negative feelings for me, but at least I have something to look forward to – putting up my Christmas tree, setting up the fairy lights around the house, and buying the presents for the family. But, once the holidays are over and the decorations are down, the rest of the winter just drags for what seems like forever. It’s cold, dark, for me, it’s usually quite busy with all the work that has been piling up. Each year, I would dread the beginning of November and expect the infamous drop in my mood and productivity.
As I said, it is like that every year. It took me a while to realise that, primarily because I have been simply avoiding even thinking about winter, let alone allowing myself space to embrace it. However, once I did, it became clear that those are all facts – yes, winter’s always cold, gloomy, busy and lonely for me, and facts are not there to be changed or affected by how we feel about them.
So, I took a different approach. For example, since January is the month when I struggle to find the motivation to be productive, I thought of all the things that would make me happy in the given circumstances. So, what would make me creative on a cold, gloomy day when all I want to do is lie in the sun with a cold drink in my hand? For me, it’s all the things related to rest and indoor activities since I am not such a social butterfly. So, I listed them and tried to add them to my daily routine to see if there would be any change.
I would start my day by having a cup of my favourite coffee, then make myself breakfast and then read a chapter of a book or watch a YouTube video I know I would enjoy, and that would give me a much-needed surge of positivity. I would do all of that in an hour that I’d have because I started waking up earlier than usual, and only then would I start working and checking my emails.
Then, if I can’t see my friends and family, I would simply call them, or even video call them, to make it more enjoyable. But, sometimes, special situations call for special means, so I accepted January as it is and found a way to do the things that make me happy in an alternative way.
Also, when nothing else helps, there is always this one thing that puts me in the best mood and helps me appreciate living in the moment much more, regardless of the season. It’s watching my dog, and my son play. So, even on a cold, snowy day, I would rush outside to watch them play and run around. It charges my batteries and makes me think of all the things I dislike that someone else might be crazy about.
Play with the road less travelled
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” This is a quote by Robert Frost from his poem “The Road not Taken”. It’s one of my favourite quotes, and I find myself living by it very often.
For years and years, I tried to follow in somebody else’s footsteps and use the tips and techniques that, as they say, “worked for most people” to help me overcome the dark winter period. I read articles online, watched videos of people sharing their experiences, I spoke with the people around me, but unfortunately, very few of those ideas came to fruition, and I ended up stuck in a rut after the holidays with piles of work hovering over my head.
Then, I gave myself some space to slowly explore and discover what turned out to be my own remedy. I followed my own gut and started to enjoy overwhelming contentment each day. I remember the one thing I would once come across most frequently whenever I google anything related to seasonal mood swings and the like was to spend time in nature as much as possible and feel its healing power. As I kept exploring such places, I had a chance to visit the countryside, the seaside, many deserted, peaceful places, riverbanks, mountains, and whatnot; I felt very confused because I was failing to feel better over and over again.
I almost gave up trying when one day I was stuck in traffic, and I had a chance to watch the world go by since it was a very busy part of the town. I remember it distinctly because I always remember my moments of epiphany, and then it hit me that I actually never get annoyed by traffic, unlike most people. I could even say I enjoy it because I’m able to notice the things that otherwise I would not be able to. I like the murmur of the crowd, I like the sound of traffic, I love watching people pass by, I even like drinking coffee at hectic places rather than some quiet, secluded coffee shop.
I started taking notes I could later use in my writing whenever I found myself in such situations, and it worked wonders. I didn’t have to wait for motivation; I sought it and found it myself. So, what works for most people definitely did not work for me, and I discovered it only once I gave up trying to follow someone else’s pattern.
You are your own competition
One of the crucial changes I introduced to my life was to move forward at my own pace instead of comparing my accomplishments to anyone else’s. As I mentioned, winter is not my favourite and most productive season, so I allowed myself a slower pace for the sake of hopefully boosting my inspiration to write.
I accepted the fact that people post their best selves on social media and that I shouldn’t compare my success to theirs, or worse, measure it against it. For some people, winter may be the best season there is, so if someone seems more productive than during this time, it doesn’t make my accomplishments smaller.
In the past, it was much more different for me. I was younger, and it was easier to feel intimidated by other people’s success. I would constantly compare myself to others and waste my time because, in the end, that competition was going on in my head only.
I believe we all get stuck in unpleasant phases of life from time to time, but there is always something to pick up and learn from them. I started to seek opportunities in such moments, and since then, it’s been so much easier to see the positive prevail over the negative.
January is still the longest month for me; the facts didn’t change. But I cherish rest more than anything, and I use the longest month for retreat and preparation to be even better and more creative. We all live in a hectic world, and slowing down has helped me become more perceptive and observant of everything life has to offer.
So, my first resolution for this year is to take a rest so that I can explore all the opportunities this year has for me.
I hope my story inspires you to look for the good in any situation. Remember, there are opportunities anywhere you look for them.