As I sit down to write this blog post I can hear the wind howling outside of my window. It’s an icy cold morning and my anxiety is high.
Winter has never been my best season. For starters, I’m not a cold-weather outdoor activity kind of human. You won’t find me skiing or even frolicking much in the snow. I don’t like the cold and I despise the time change and how it blankets me in darkness heading to and from work.
I’m the type of person who fights the winter blues in a normal year. Add a pandemic to the mix and it is almost guaranteed that I’ll end up wrapped in blankets staring into a corner somewhere.
Not being dramatic, just being real.
I’m self-aware enough to know that I’ll need something to help get me through a Covid winter. I can’t bear to spend another season binge-watching random shows on Netflix. Honestly, I’ve watched enough television in the past six months to get me through the next few years. And since we’re going nowhere fast, I don’t have exactly have anywhere to go. Life seems to be one long journey of sameness.
I need an assignment.
A huge distraction.
Something to keep my spirits up and break up the monotony of pandemic days and nights.
Although I’m not entirely sure of my personal solution yet, I’ve pulled together a few suggestions that might work. I figured since I’ve done so much research, I might as well share it with others in the hopes that it could prove useful!
How To Break Up the Monotony of a Covid Winter
Embark on a Creativity Challenge
There is nothing quite as motivating as participating in a challenge. Just the very word itself can motivate you to continue forward. Doing something every day (no matter how small) builds up your skills and can help you both personally AND professionally. Creativity, as they say, begets creativity.
I found this source online and it seems like a great place to start for anyone who is intrigued: 100 Ways To Be Creative. (Feel free to create your own challenges to the list or make your own.)
Some of my personal favorites:
- Complete an online tutorial you’ve bookmarked for later
- Stick googly eyes on inanimate objects
- Share your life and findings via snail mail and the internet
- Leave a happy note or quote somewhere unexpected
- Journal or write something somewhere every day
- Create a theme for you to follow for a day or a whole week (clothing, speech, activities, etc.)
- Celebrate weird and unusual holidays
- Fill an entire album with anything but photographs
- Build a fort to work (or play) in
- Decorate mirrors with dry-erase markers
- Show up more online in photos and videos
- Have a dress-up costume evening
- Take online classes on topics that are outside of your comfort zone
- Join a book club
- Create something you’ve never tried before like jewelry, needlepoint, or a painting
“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
So many of us are on a cycle of familiarity in life. Could be because we are scared or because we simply don’t make the opportunity to branch out and take a risk. I say now is the perfect time to understand our individual “comfort zones” and work on expanding them.
There are a ton of documented benefits to stepping outside our personal comfort zones. For starters it gives us:
- the opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves
- the chance to expand our creativity and increase self-confidence
- the opportunity to learn how to deal with challenges and build relationships
Actively stepping out allows you to create a more lively existence. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway?
So getting down to business…
All self-improvement work of this type needs to start with some personal introspection. The biggest obstacle to stepping out of your comfort zone is identifying the fear that is buried within you. Some writing prompts to get you thinking:
- Describe your comfort zone.
- What might be outside of your comfort zone that you would want to try?
- When have you stepped out of your comfort zone in the past and how did you feel?
- What fears are holding you back?
- At the end of your life, what would you regret not trying?
- What is the worst that could happen if you tried something new?
- Write down everything you are scared to do. Which ones do you want to try first?
- What is the best thing that could happen if you tried something different?
“What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Listen, you don’t have to start big. I never do. I usually begin with things that make me slightly uncomfortable and go from there. (Like the time I decided to learn how to create something French and taught myself how to make Madeleines from scratch. As it turns out, I’m quite good at it. Who knew?!)
A few small suggestions for stepping outside your comfort zone:
- Unfamiliar music
- New exercise class
- New recipes
- Different books
- Call an old friend
- Get creative with paints, knitting or dance
- Make a cold call
- Reach out to new friends
- Speak in front of a group of friends or peers
- Set a new goal, have someone hold you accountable
- Have a no-tech Sunday
Get Physical With A Purpose
Exercise is not just about staying in shape. People who exercise tend to do it not only to look better but also because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. Which, if you ask me, is precisely what can help get us through a crappy Covid winter.
A simple Google search will pull up article after article about how exercise can be an effective anti-anxiety treatment. Some of the documented benefits include relieving tension and stress and boosting physical and mental energy. Granted, times are challenging right now with physical gyms and classes being limited but there are tons of ways to keep ourselves occupied even with sparse resources.
And bonus, it could keep us interested and distracted enough to tide us over until the weather breaks and spring appears!
A few ideas/challenges to consider:
- Online Yoga
- 30 Day Squat Challenge
- 30 Day Arm Challenge
- 30 Day Ab Challenge
- 30 Day Push Up Challenge
A word about walking, if I may. Even in small spaces walking can help you tremendously. I try to move even if I have a work call. No one needs to know that I’m not sitting at my desk. I’ve done circles around a conference table or traveled up and down the stairs. I also try to challenge myself to attend webinars and such while walking on my treadmill or around my house when working from home. I keep a notebook close for important points and it helps me get away from my normal workspace. (That alone can be a mental boost!)
If you have a Fitbit or Apple Watch I also highly recommend challenging yourself or friends to a step competition. It fights boredom and keeps you healthy under any circumstances!
“The mind and body are not separate. What affects one affects the other.”
And like I said, I don’t have my winter plan mapped out 100% yet but I do have a few must-try items on my list. Seems like now is as good a time as any to start writing more and pick up a hobby. Maybe I’ll create a signature cocktail or learn how to knit or speak French or take photos? One thing’s for sure, it’ll make my weeks more interesting!
What are your plans to battle the Covid winter blues?