Having read somewhere the other day about the benefits of sunlight in avoiding winter blues, I’m rapidly making making the most of the light a central part of my routine on my days off. It’s easy to miss the best of the sunlight and even with a moderate lie-in of, say, 10am that only leaves 6 hours before it’s dark again.
The first ground-rule I’m going to set is to try and avoid sleeping during daylight hours – which means being up by 8 and avoiding napping before 4. This is a fairly radical break from my usual habits of either sleeping until lunchtime, or getting up and then napping again straight after lunch. From experience though, I know I feel happier for getting up and doing things during the day instead of wasting it in bed, tempting as it seems to just curl up and watch movies.
The second thing I’m going to do is walk as much as possible, again during the daylight. Ideally a walk or errands outside in the morning/towards lunchtime when the sun is strongest, and then another short walk around 3.30pm. It gets dark indoors quicker than it does outside, so by going out at that time I can make the day feel longer than it would if I stayed indoors, effectively giving myself at least an extra 30 minutes of ambient light.
I did this yesterday and was surprised by just how much I enjoyed myself! A few of us were having a Tori Amos discussion on Facebook, and so I took my headphones and played Tori full-blast and just thoroughly indulged in the music, the clouds, the wind, and the feeling of being outside – and found I was noticing things much more, the leaves and squirrels and different types of houses, things I don’t remember having seen before. My hair is longer now which is perfect timing for winter – it got a bit subdued after chopping a load of it off in the summer, and it’s finally back to having a life of it’s own which makes walking in the wind that bit more fun! It’s such a silly little thing… It’s not quite cold enough for my enormous woolly scarf yet, but it’s cool enough for two pashes twisted together, which is fun too. I love the getting-bundled-up aspect of winter walks and making use of my scarf collection! I was quite gleeful and it didn’t feel like walking for the sake of it at all, I was actively enjoying myself.
My last little guideline for myself is just to keep moving, in terms of keeping moving from one activity to the next. I’m happier when I do this, and I think it helps me to eat better – if I let myself just slip into mindlessness I don’t enjoy myself as much and I usually end up bored and eating. So I need to stay a bit organised and keep lists of projects, fun activities and next priorities so I always have a big list and can pick whatever I most feel like doing.