The Winter Doldrums | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

January 6, 2015

The Winter Doldrums

For as long as I can remember, January through March has been my least favorite time of year. As a kid, it was the bleak season of going back to school after the hype of holidays and standing in the frigid temperatures each morning at the bus stop. 

I guess I have various idiosynchrasies for every season. I live for Autumn. It's my favorite. I love the cooler weather, the preparations for holidays, the new school year, everything. Bring on soup! Bring on the celebratory festivities! Bring on sweaters and boots! The moment August ends, I embrace the ushering in of Fall.

Summer and I have a more tenuous relationship, due to a string of frustrating circumstances we encountered over the course of several summers. As a teacher's wife, summer is a time where there are no paychecks and the obliteration of normal routine (which is a huge struggle for me). We've spent a few summers in financial hardship, encountering various unexpected bills and counting the days until paychecks started again. I also dislike heat and sweating in general. So I usually welcome summer with a good bit of caution.

Winter, though, is a strange bird. I actually like winter. I love snow (don't hate me), I like the crisp nights and I prefer being cold to being hot. I find the season cozy, marked by warm blankets and pot roasts cooking in the oven. But as the years have gone on, I find myself getting anxious as the end of December comes.

Perhaps it's a Pavlovian thing, harkening back to the days as a kid when Winter Break would end and we'd have to face going back to school. I still experience a small letdown as the holidays end. I still love the timespan of October 31 through December 31. So when it's over, it's a little blah. Perhaps it's being a parent and agonizing over the germiest season of the year. 

Perhaps as a 30-something woman, I dislike being cooped up with no where to go. We also say how important it is for kids to get outdoor time (which doesn't happen in winter). But I think adults need it to. We need the sunshine, we need the fresh air. We just don't get it in winter.

I've been thinking recently that perhaps I struggle with facing a new year and all of it's uncertainties. I'm learning more and more how I don't function well when I am out of control. The anxiety of not knowing what a new year brings (financially, in victories, in difficulties) is not my favorite. I just like knowing. Surprises? Not my thing.

All that to say, I get kind of rammy as January arrives. It's not Seasonal Affective Disorder, because I don't get depressed (but if you do struggle with SAD, please don't hesitate to talk to someone or get help!) . Most of the time it's just business as usual and I'm fine. I find that it helps to give myself things to look forward to: GNO's, new episodes of my favorite TV shows, day trips, making initial plans for summer vacation and, yes, even getting excited for snow storms (if this season gives us any). it helps to have these things to get excited about, after coming off of a season where every week there was some fun holiday or party or special trip. 

I also keep running. This is something that was new to me last year - winter running. Most people stop running when the cold weather sets in. But I welcome it. I love running in the winter. Remember how I dislike sweating and being hot? Winter is perfect for people like me. At some point even on the coldest runs, you'll warm up. At no point during summer runs do you start to cool down. Running gets my endorphins going and will improve my mood even on the worst days.

So, I'm working on it. I have a strategy to lift my mood during these Winter Doldrums. I'll make sure to enjoy girls night's out, snuggling under blankets with my kids, reading good books, going on long runs, tracking every potential snow storm and revel in small signs of spring.

What about you? Do you struggle with winter? 
How do you work on not getting down during the winter doldrums?

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