Love it or despise it, winter is just around the corner. Gone are those fresh spring days, when the daylight lengthens and new life is popping up all around us. Our hearts are filled with optimism as we look forward to long summer days filled with the sun on our skin, summer holidays or just hanging out with friends and family in the open air. This is a time when we might be full of energy and chomping at the bit to get things done.
But now, as we approach the golden days of autumn, the growing season is slowing down, we are gathering in the harvest and battening down the hatches for winter. Out comes our winter slippers and the onesie and we might be more inclined to settle in front of the TV with our winter comfort food. Great, you might say and I, for one, would agree with all of that. After all, there is something to be said for acknowledging the wisdom of some of our animal friends, as they retreat from the world and hibernate through the most potentially difficult seasons of the year.
But... and of course there is always a but! You see, withdrawing from the world outside our four walls can actually be hazardous to our health. As human beings, we need all the stimulation the natural world can give us. We need the sun, brief as it is, to keep us healthy through the darker days, both mentally and physically. My adult son has struggled during the winter months since he was a boy. As a youngster he would simply react to what he considered as cold, dark days by withdrawing. We bought him a Therapy Lamp, designed to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and, although it had some minor benefits, it didn't actually solve the problem. Fortunately, as an adult, he positively embraces the great outdoors, choosing to immerse himself in activity that is both mentally and physically challenging and stimulating. By his own admission, whilst he acknowledges that SAD stands quietly in the wings, waiting to bite him on the bum, his proactive response actually kicks it in to touch!
The great outdoors is magical at any time of year, whether we live near the ocean, in a busy town or city, or whether we are buried deep in the countryside. I follow many Instagrammers who post the most amazing shots of their locality throughout the year. Pictures of fun in the snow in a closed off wintery street, picnics round a campfire, walks along deserted beaches... the list goes on.
I don't know about you, but over the years I had always tended to put on a few pounds (or more) over the winter, simply because I'd prefer to be tucked up inside. Of course, hearty and sustaining winter food didn't help, much as it was needed. The problem was, I wasn't expending the energy to work off those dreaded extra calories that gathered nicely around my hips! Come spring the rush to lose the extra weight in time for summer weighed heavily, not only on my body, but also on my mind. Something had to be done and eventually I worked out the magic formula, which was encapsulated in a single word: COMPROMISE. No, I'm not going to give up cosy nights around the fire with my glass of wine, although it is, perhaps, only one these days. I'm not going to give up my duvet days as the snow comes down. I'm not going to give up my extra large bag of real crisps or bar of chocolate as I feast on the latest box set. HOWEVER, when it stops pouring down, I'm going to put on my boots, pick up the dog lead, plug in my favourite uplifting music and march up the hill (yes you heard correctly) to work off those calories and to ensure a guilt free and dreamless sleep!
So, what are you waiting for? Wrap up and get out there!