Tis the season to be sluggish

As I sit at my desk and look out at the scudding clouds of a Melbourne winter, I can only wonder how people in deeper latitudes ever get anything done once summer has passed.  We still technically have about nine and a half hours of daylight here even on our shortest day, but I’m sure I’m not alone in having difficulty getting out of bed, off the couch, or away from the heater.  Of course there is the now widely-accepted phenomenon of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), sufferers of which become noticeably depressed, sluggish and inclined to put on weight in the winter months.  But this is generally only diagnosed in dwellers of latitudes over about 60 degrees—compared with them we really have little to complain of in the cold/dark stakes. So how to keep motivated and moving when it’s grey and chilly out?

I have discovered several things really help.  One is to acknowledge that it is OK to slow down a little and use this time of year for some more reflective activities—reading, writing, long lunches with old friends.  In our feverish, goal-driven world, perhaps we can allow ourselves a regular season of relative hibernation.  This doesn’t mean staying in bed all day, but it can mean not leaping up at 6.00 am, instead favouring a cup of tea and reading for half an hour.  It can mean doing less vigorous exercise, at a more congenial time of day.  I for one can recommend the long walk during daylight in preference to the frantic run or gym workout in the dark, if it is at all possible to fit this into your day.

It's OK to slow down a little in winter.

Spring cleaning might have its merits, but how about the winter audit?  This can be a lovely time to turn up the heating, find some corner of your house or life that warrants some attention, and devoting a lazy morning or afternoon to it.  Put on some favourite music and check out your bookcases, CD collection, DVD shelves, wardrobe, pantry or 'junk' room.

 

It is also a lovely time to reconnect with friends if you find that summer is full of outdoors busy-ness that limits some of your social contact.  Cook some soup and invite over someone you haven’t seen for six months.  Check out the cinema schedule and see whether some friends—maybe even several who haven’t met each other before—would like to go with you. 

There is also the pleasure—if you get out and exploring—of identifying public places in your neighbourhood that are warm.  You may not be able to lounge on the beach this time of year, but you can find a café that has decent heating, or even a fireplace, and read the paper over a coffee.  You can browse the library.  You can visit the art gallery, or the museum.  You might even find a class to join.  I’m wondering whether this is my year to learn to tango …