Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Winter Doldrums

Here we are once again in my least favorite time of year aptly labeled the dead of winter. The holidays are over, the super bowl is over, it's always cold, it's always dark, and the groundhog predicts six more weeks of the same. Ugh.

photo credit: via photopin (license)

No wonder the failure rate is so high for dieters this time of year. If we can't be active outdoors what is there left to do but eat? Overeating is one of the classic symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

+ Feel sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.

+ Lose interest in your usual activities.

+ Eat more and crave carbohydrates.

+ Gain weight.

+ Sleep more but still feel tired.

+ Have trouble concentrating.

How many of these symptoms affect you?

That's not to say that winter is all bad. As a writer, this is my most productive time of year. There are fewer distractions. No yard work, no gardening, no outdoor improvement projects or repairs, and no need to keep the cars clean. The winter doldrums also present unique opportunities other than eating, sleeping, and watching TV. To combat SAD, consider some of these ideas.

1. The activities of your neighbors are also limited during winter, and they have less to do, so why not take the opportunity to get to know them better. Invite them to dinner. If you aren't sure what to talk about, play cards or board games to get the conversations flowing.

2. Learn something. Fewer distractions means more time for continuing education. Want to learn another language? Become better at tying flies? Take up knitting? Winter offers more uninterrupted hours than any other time of year.

3. Go south. We all need a break, so why not take a week or so and travel to warmer climes? Doesn't always have to be Florida or California. Try someplace new. Think outside the box. For example, I've never been to Brownsville, Texas, but I understand it's a nice place to visit with plenty to do. It's located on the southernmost tip of the state near the Gulf (warm and sunny). I'd like to check it out someday.

4. Fitness. Golf courses and tennis courts may be knee deep in snow, but there are plenty of gyms to visit to work off the calories from wintertime overeating. Introverted? Going to a gym not your thing? Buy a treadmill or elliptical machine for your home. Boring? Not if you listen to audio books while working out.

5. Instead of TV, try reading. It's better for your mind, forces you to concentrate, and exercises your imagination. Maybe you don't have the time or funds to travel to a place like Brownsville, Texas, but there are plenty of fascinating books on the history of Texas, if history is your area of interest. What about getting lost in a good novel? I prefer having a good chunk of time in order to stay engaged while reading. No time is better for reading than long, bleak winter nights.

What about it? Are there any other activities that you can suggest for my list? What strategy do you use to combat the winter doldrums?


  1. Yup, those are the signs all right. Great suggestions, too. I did a similar post this week, though a bit more tongue-in-cheek than yours at . We will survive!