Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person?
If you have chosen to live in a four season environment you either find joy in having something to complain about or you are in sync with the nature of the changing seasons. I know many people with varying degrees of seasonal affective disorder along with varying degrees of effort in response. The tips here are to take some of that edge off and to perhaps make some light in what seems like darkness at 4pm forever.
I’ll start by saying, we gain an extra hour of daylight each day every four weeks from mid January. SO… the days get longer by an average of 2 minutes and 7 seconds every day after the winter solstice. This year I am keenly aware since I am biking my daughter home from activities between 5:30 & 6pm, and it was light as I write this in early February. In about a month, it will still be light out at 7pm:) So we are over the hump. Here in NYC, we have so far had the warmest winter in my 19 years living here, but it seems the second half of winter is often the lingering one.
After 17 years of owning two studios and listening to the hundreds of weather related convos over the years, I realize that winter is really the only factor that keeps any control over the population in NYC. So I am inspired to share what helps keep us sane. And even to my perfectly tempered Cali friends, it’s good to roll with seasons and change your rituals from time to time.
In my opinion, if you are making conscious choices to get in tune with your seasonal self, then embracing the winter has three acceptable categories:
- Face It
- Hide From It
- Escape From It
You can be literally walking in a winter wonderland or creating seasonal rituals that you look forward to in the early months of the year which differ from the ones in your Spring, Summer and Fall Seasons. But do something productive, even if it is “consciously hibernating….” I made that up, but basically I mean-own it.
1. Embrace the Season.
Invest in your winter clothes. A warm coat with a big hood will have you complaining 10x less than you do now. Plan destinations/trips in both warm and cold climates. Make a point to do something outside of your usual routine 1x a month. Ice Skating at the Le Frak Center in Prospect Park is both convenient and connected to the season for us. Local ski mountains are small but fun if you have never skied before or want to teach little ones. A short car ride or metro north will take you to Thunder Ridge Mountain to name just one……. Or plan a trip to ski out west and fall in love with fluffy snow. Utah is a 4-5 hour flight and convenient to dozens of amazing terrain.
2. Create Winter Rituals.
Escape the cold by doing a day spa pass at Great Jones Spa or the newly opened World Spa. Many day spas don’t require you to sign up for services, but you can absorb some tranquility while hot/cold plunging, steaming, sauna, eating yummy food and chilling in the warmth. I assure you will re-enter the city wilderness a happier person. You don’t need to go far to dip into a warm climate either. A plane to Miami, many places in the Caribbean, or even Costa Rica will take you around four hours and depending on logistics, and can make sense for a long weekend.
3. Set Personal Goals That Are Season Specific.
Personally, I do a winter clean out, since it’s the last thing I want to do in the spring. I feel a massive sense of accomplishment which carries over into me being more productive in all areas of my life. Perhaps you do some indoor exercise….(Pilates) that you can carry with you to your spring and summer activities. How about we set a goal of attending to your posture this season? You will come out into the spring like a blossomed flower with a long stem:)
Everything in our body, everything in nature for that matter, is constantly craving and working toward homeostasis. Nature works hard to keep the balance, and if we are lucky, our organs can rely on our autonomic nervous system to balance out toxins and regulate our blood. Since our bones and muscles are controlled by our periphery nervous system, it is more voluntary/ somatic and requires our conscious corporation. Creating positive postural habits and neutral homeostatic placements for the body in stillness and in our motion patterns isn’t easy. Since Pilates addresses alignment in the setup of every exercise. Even the ones that may seem superficial or fancy, the method is always addressing posture even while “working out.” It is always about where the work is coming from and “how” you do it rather than “what” you are actually doing. It is why I think everyone should study Pilates and why I love my job!
Think of ideal posture as home base for your bones. There are postures all over the body, from our feet to our head and in all of our limbs. Using the spine as an example, if we are in “neutral” then it grants ideal space between our bones and joints, putting your body in your unique postural position. We all look different! This is not to force our bodies to look at a certain way, it is to guide our bodies toward a neutral plane according to gravity. Here I am focusing on the posture of our upper body since it tends to hunch forward even more in the winter months.
Ideally, our ears line up with our shoulders, our forehead stacks over our sternum and pubic bone. Since our form = our function, this conscious guiding of our bones to align will prompt muscle activation that may feel different. In motion or exercises it will make you more efficient, add challenge, and allow you to really feel the deep work of your muscles. Addressing posture will maintain good habits, or change the not so good ones.