Those Winter Blues.

Let’s all be real here for a hot second. It’s winter. In Ohio, that means it’s cold, it’s dark by 5 p.m. (which if you aren’t aware, is the time we all get out of work and actually see the outside) and the motivation gauge is usually on empty. It’s the winter blues. A funk. Depression. And though I am not a psychological or medical professional (and if you are having extensive difficulties, you should definitely see one of them) I thought I would share a few of the ways that I try to keep myself moving during these winter months. I’d love to hear any techniques or activities you have! I’m always interested in new ways to find inspiration and motivation.

1) Get some people time. I will openly tell you I am one of the most introverted people you will meet. I love me time. I NEED me time. But I also know that when I let that get off balance, it gets ugly fast. I know that if I’ve gone too long without real social activity, I’m in trouble. Don’t let that happen! Right now…call, text, Facebook message, tweet a friend. Set up a little hang out date. This is one of my first go-to ways to pull myself out of a funk: I fill my social calendar. I think you’ll realize that when you spend time with others, you want to spend more time with others, and that makes even my little, internal self jump for joy. It also keeps you from sinking into yourself. And just as it helps you, your presence is beneficial for the other person; because you’re pretty stinking awesome.

2) Get outside! Vitamin D my friends. Even if it’s cold (let’s be real…it’s cold.) Take a walk at lunch. Sit on your porch for a few minutes. Take a moment, breathe and get some fresh air. It’s an instant mood changer.

3) Dance it out. I mean it. You’d be shocked by what 15 minutes of shaking your groove thing can do. Don’t worry, no one is watching. Just have fun and laugh at yourself. Find yourself a good Pandora dance station (I have a Beyonce “Single Ladies” station) and go for it. My favorite is to dance while I’m cleaning my house…and sitting in my car…and sitting at my desk…and waiting in line at the store…ok maybe this one is my favorite tip 🙂

4) Be task oriented. I love to-do lists. In fact, I need them to function. I mean, I make to-do lists when I’m on vacation to make sure I don’t miss anything. And when I’m having a bad day, or I’m lacking motivation, usually having at least one task to work towards keeps me moving. So I’ve been trying to break up my lists into small, daily projects. I don’t have to do everything at one time, that’s overwhelming and then I give up. It’s just small steps. Today, pay bills. Tomorrow, emails. Another day, run errands. Little things can result in a lot of forward motion.

5) Write a love letter. Over Christmas break I stumbled upon this amazing project, www.moreloveletters.com. It was started by a young woman when she was struggling with depression. It’s an act of anonymous encouragement; literally writing love letters and leaving them for whomever should stumble upon them. How fun?! You can learn more about the organization and how to be a part of the letter writing if you go to the website. I just got my first request for letters (they send a monthly list of people who have requested letters for someone they know) and I can’t wait to get started! You can’t imagine how encouraging another person can really benefit you as well.

What about you? What do you do to keep yourself going?

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Saturday Fun: Winter Hike.

One of my goals with being Alive in 2013 is to do more new things. Eat at new restaurants, see more sites…basically do a lot more of the stuff I always talk about wanting to do (less talking and more action.) And Saturday was one of those!

I don’t know where you were on Saturday…but in Columbus, Ohio it was 60 degrees in January…so most of us were outside.

My dear friend Michelle and I had already planned to go out for our first Winter Hike, sponsored by the Columbus Metro Parks. We majorly lucked out that the weather was so fantastic. If you aren’t familiar with this program, the Metro Parks sponsor guided walks each weekend over the winter. Each week is in a different park around central Ohio. It’s a great way to get out, enjoy the weather, soak in some vitamin D which we DESPERATELY need in the winter and enjoy some time with your friends and family. This week was at Sharon Woods, which is ironically right down the street from where Michelle and I met, our days at Otterbein.

When we first arrived, we were in utter shock. EVERYONE was going to the hike. There were cars as far as you could see in all directions. Even regular participants said they had never seen it this busy. Obviously, spring-like weather in January is a hit! It was great to see so many people out and about.

Seriously…by the bus loads!

Once we arrived, all we had to do was follow the arrows!

Excited for our first hike and some fresh air!

I’ll admit, I was a little bummed that the snow had melted and the park was just sort of boring and wet, but we still got a few glimpses of nature and her beauty.

The great thing about these hikes is that there are volunteer guides everywhere. So if you have questions, or wanted to take a guided hike, you can. You also have the option of what trail you take. Michelle and I chose the 2 mile track, but some of the parks offer up to 7 miles. It really gives you the opportunity to have a great time no matter who you are…and there were definitely some experienced hikers in the mix (not us).

At the end of the walk, there is a fantastic treat! Volunteers serve soup, snacks and hot chocolate. We even had chocolate milk from Snowville Creamery (so yum!)

Chicken chili, cornbread and chocolate milk!

All in all we had a really great morning out…that was until we had 0 clue how to find our car. After wandering aimlessly and finally asking for directions, we discovered that there was, of course, as sign (there were helpful signs everywhere!)

At least we didn’t get lost on the trail, right?

If you’re looking for good way to spend your Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon (they have walks on both), be sure to check this out! We’ll be out next Saturday!

How did you spend your weekend? Any good winter activities you can share?