Winter. The dull days, grey clouds, rain, drizzle, fog, and yes, even snow, can be a hard time of year. It’s as if the sun takes a vacation (probably gone south.) For some folks, those dull days stir up dull, dreary feelings that are hard to shake.
If you are adversely affected by winter, you might wonder whether there’s anything you can do about it. You can’t change the weather. You could wait ten minutes and see if it changes on its own, but wishing and hoping doesn’t seem to do much.
One remedy often recommended is to use bright lights, and there are plenty of light therapy lamps available to buy. Whether they are effective for your situation or not is something you’d need to evaluate for yourself.
Another popular suggestion is to take advantage of all the things we can do in winter that we can’t do in summer. We can walk in the snow, ski, skate, build snow people; the list of winter activities abounds. If you’re enthused about those activities, then that could be a great way to combat the winter blahs.
In general, choosing an action and following through can lead to a better sense of control. Selecting a lamp and using it, or embracing the cold by going for a walk; any activity may be more helpful than sitting unhappily in the gloom.
The technical advances that have made it possible for us to function regardless of the weather are a wonderful thing. Electric lights enable us to work through the darkest of days. Heating systems make it possible to function even as the temperatures plummet.
If you can arrange your life to stay inside, close the curtains, turn up the heat, and maybe put on some calypso music, you could pretend the dreariness outside doesn’t even exist. That’s one way to get through winter.
Here’s a different suggestion: Look at the dullness from a different point of view.
When everything is beautiful and sunny, the outside beckons. “Come out and play!” It’s so easy to be distracted, because we know those nice days won’t last forever. We put off the dull tasks of everyday life till we have time. We must make hay while the sun shines.
The winter brings contrast. Without darkness, light would be no big deal. If we never sleep, we wouldn’t notice being awake. And if the days were never dull and dreary, then the brightness and cheer of beautiful days wouldn’t enter our awareness.
Now is the time when the sun is not shining. The plants go dormant; animals hunker down in their dens, slow their activity, hibernate, and wait out the winter.
When it’s cold outside, it’s natural to withdraw, to reflect; to consider where we are and what we are about. The slowness of movements in winter can give us the chance to think a little more slowly, a little more deeply, and take stock.
We could look at this time of the year as a gift—a gift of time to pause; rest, rejuvenate, and refresh for spring.
Perhaps my attempt to choose this perspective is a bit of a stretch. After all, it’s a dark, dull day outside as I write this, and that has certainly influenced my outlook.
On the other hand, might this choice of perspective be effective? If you have difficulty with keeping your spirits up at this time of year, could changing your perspective also change your mood?
If it could be helpful in any way to view winter as natural downtime, a time to regroup and rejuvenate, is it worth a try? What do you have to lose?
If you do decide to choose a different perspective, let me know how it works for you
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
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- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
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