Like most people in the northern half of the northern hemisphere, I am rather non-plussed by post-holiday Winter.
Maybe non-plussed is an understatement.
Last weekend, I found myself trundling around a third-ring suburb, lost between the overcast sky and beige housing developments. I stopped in a Wal-mart to pick up a few things and while standing in line behind a screaming child, I had an overwhelming moment of “Oh, good lord. What. is. the. point? No, really. What’s the point.”
And maybe getting lost in the suburbs and enduring auditory assault from a kiddo who REALLY WANTS GUM! is enough to drive anyone to an existential crisis. But I knew that this was the beginning of my yearly bout with the Winter Blues.
And of course I know how to work myself out of a funk (dance to Shakira! cuddle the cat! try something new!) but when you’re a two weeks into your January-sulkathon, it’s hard to work up any interest in doing things other than watching Hulu and eating carbs.
However! Being the internet hound that I am, I remembered hearing about this study. Essentially, it points out that when doctors give patients vague, over-arching suggestions about exercise and diet, these suggestions are largely ignored.
But when the doctor gets out her prescription pad and actually writes out a specific, tailored plan for these things (“30 minutes of walking, after evening meal, 4 times a week”) the patient is much more likely to do these things.
So what if I applied this method to myself? Instead of knowing (and mostly ignoring) all of the things that I know I can do to pull myself out of funk, what if I viewed these things as the treatment for my Mid-Winter Sulk?
Post-haste, I wrote myself a Happiness Prescription
30 minutes of fresh air and sunshine, to be applied daily at 7 am and 3 pm
25 minutes of aerobic activity, 4 x a week
Skype video chats with various friends around the globe, 1 x a week
Thrifting (as needed)
Over-priced, out-of-season fruit (as needed)
And you know what? I think it’s working. All that air and sun and sweat makes me feel better. Of course it does – I knew it would.
But viewing all these activities as non-negotiable has changed my mindset. You wouldn’t willfully forget to take your allergy medicine or to wear your mouth guard while playing hockey. Why shouldn’t we treat our minds and hearts the same way?
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