Every year around this time I find myself wishing life away. I can’t say whether this would still occur if I lived in a warmer, sunnier climate, but that is all speculation. The reality is that in the North it can be pretty dreary this time of year. I have found this dreariness to be an even greater struggle now that I live in Ann Arbor (east of Lake Michigan) where the sun never seems to shine. This lack of sun can be very depressing and I often find myself complaining or daydreaming about the warm days to come. The reality is that when I do this—this escaping—I completely miss the moment I’m living in. Not only do I cut myself off from the joy that I could be experiencing, I cut myself off from all that God has for me right here! The fight to live in the present is a real, especially if winter isn’t your favorite season. Here are a few practical things that I try to do that really help me savor and enjoy these winter moments, instead of just wishing them away.
1. Light Candles
To me, there is nothing more romantic than candles. Seeing the warm light flicker, especially through a cutesy candleholder brings me great joy! I have candles placed all around my apartment—cutesy ones, boring ones, scented ones, etc. When you’re feeling down about the grey skies or the fact that you have a project to work on, create some mood lighting to help change the vibe.
2. Channel Your Inner Foodie
I know I’m not the only one who loves food. Food makes life taste good! Cooking something delicious is a great way to fight off negative thoughts and do something that is fun and creative. I love searching websites and blogs for the most reviewed recipes and giving them a try. Cooking gives me an indoor creative outlet. I suggest turning some fun music on (Madeleine Peyroux on Pandora is my favorite) to really make it an experience. Creating and eating are both very enjoyable things to do, but if you are cooking to share your creation, it will bring even more joy. So much joy comes from getting outside yourself and doing something for someone else!
3. Be Instead of Do
Much of our lives consist of going and doing. In the winter it’s already hard enough to get out of bed and brave the cold—then we add on this need to constantly be doing, be productive, to have something “going on.” Perhaps social media doesn’t help our cause when we see the lives of those around us. We look at what other people are doing and it seems like we’re missing out. Don’t be afraid to just be. Do you have a Saturday off? Have a lazy morning in your pajamas, sit in the silence and read, watch a movie in your bed, waste time just chatting with friends, etc. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be productive—I’m saying that we need to take a break sometimes from all of the doing to just be!
This is the hardest one for me, but one of the most important. Exercising is one of the last things I want to do when I already feel very blob-like and outdoor activities are not an option. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that you need to be training for a marathon or anything. What I am saying is that light exercise a few times a week makes a huge difference in the way we feel! For me, I don’t like going to the gym, especially in the winter. If working out means that I need to go out into the cold and drive somewhere, I won’t work out. Also, I don’t like when people are staring at me, so I opt for workout videos. This allows for variety and also gives me a time frame. I can say to myself, “Okay, Julianna. You have an hour of free time. Why don’t you do a thirty minute work out and THEN spend the rest of your time on the computer.” Like I said, this is a hard one to make happen. If you do want to train for a marathon, go for it! If you’re like me, though, you need something a little more realistic. Take it one day at a time—that’s all you can do!
5. Keep Life in Perspective
Last winter, waiting to get married, was arguably the longest winter of my life. I had many mantras to help me get through. This included: “The winter will pass and springtime will come”, “This too shall pass”, “The snow will melt and it will soon be spring”, “X amount of days left.” I don’t think the mantras made time move any faster, but they did help me to keep life in perspective. Whether it seems like it or not, everything will pass. Maybe we’re waiting for winter to pass, or a difficult week in school, or the aftermath of a bad breakup—whatever it is, it will pass. What is most difficult to realize in these times is that the Lord has something for us at each moment. If we’re wishing life away (yes, even the hard times) then we’re missing the moment. And when we miss the moment, we miss what the Lord wants to give. Our challenge is to spend time with Him daily so He can help us see what He has for us and what He is saying to us, even in the midst of the winter in our life.