Today’s installment of How To Beat The Winter Blahs arises from something I’ve been doing consistently since fall. It’s likely not something that would feel like resemble “a big deal”, yet it has made an impact on my outlook and perceptions, especially in the heart of a very cold, snowy winter season.
I’m talking about the blessing of chores and animals that rely on our care. Many of the people that read my blog are persons who take care of others, both in human and animal form. Service to others is actually vital to our well being! Taking care of others, be it feeding hungry animals, scooping the walk of an appreciative neighbor, giving a friend a ride to work, or making a home-cooked meal are all ways that we can connect more deeply to those around us.
It is easy, at least for me, to become closed in and constricted. I don’t like to go out and I hate being cold. So what is the one thing I have to do EVERY DAY? Feed animals. It doesn’t matter if it is 100 or 10 degrees. They rely on my for breakfast and supper. I find that when I make the effort to go out of my “comfort zone” (not without my smartwool socks and beanie) I open into a more expansive point of view. I notice the unique snow formations around the tomato tank. I appreciate the warmth of the coop and praise God for the invention of heated bowls! I notice and appreciate far more than I would if I was in the house and didn’t have such tasks to tend to.
I think it is easy in our fast-paced society to forget about the importance of service to others. Looking directly into someone’s eyes, expressing a sincere thank you, letting other people know they genuinely matter, even if the weather sucks, can and does lift the spirit. I believe this and I practice it daily.
It may seem hard to believe, but I have an intense hermit streak that I occasionally have to give in to. I could easily stay right here at home, not leaving for a month to connect with the outside world. I’m at home BEING ME! While that is great and good, it can close me off to others and the outside world. I forget that my problems and challenges are the same as those shared by others. I forget that “I’m not the only one that has ever felt this way.” Connecting to others and being in service IS important. Winter does make it challenging to get out and stay connected and yet, making that effort to get out is what can also free us from those blah, yucky feelings. I’ve found it’s usually not what we want to do, it’s what we know we need to, do that can get us unstuck!
I hope I don’t sound like I’m preaching to anyone! Several friends and even clients have asked what I do to remain “bubbly and sunny”, (me bubbly?!?!) and these are my recommendations:
1.) Surround yourself with LIFE, green, living growing things and especially vibrant colors. When it’s cold and dull outside, it is important to refresh and enhance our inner environments. Consider changing your pictures and art to brighter shades and tones. Just because it’s crappy outside doesn’t mean it can be colorful and refreshing inside!
2.) Get out and move. Move your physical body as much as you move your mental body. If you are in an office, it is VITAL that you get some time outside, breathe in fresh air and take the opportunity to be in nature. Winter tends to slow things down, moving helps counterbalance stagnation.
3) Be in Service To Others: No matter what flock you are tending, do it with full out JOY. Taking care of others can help us appreciate our gifts, traits and talents. It can also broaden our perspective as well as boost our own and others’ moral. The challenges that we deal with are likely the same as what others are dealing with too. Isolation and depression can be lifted when we share directly with others, especially when we can help them in a meaningful way.
Of coarse there are MORE ideas (always are!) so please share your favorites in the comment section below!
Happy sledding, or skiing or sliding or snowball fighting!