Last night, daylight savings went into action for the second time this year- and this time it is to officially welcome the most anticipated and dreaded time of year: winter. As autumn takes it’s final bow and we reminisce about a simpler time of basic sweater weather and pumpkin spice lattes, excessive lavish consumerism wipes over London for the next few months in preparation for the merriest time of year: Christmas. Yet despite all the lights and cheer and beauty that will surround us during this period (after all there is no denying that London is truly beautiful during Christmas), we are struck by though heartless icy b**tch that London is during winter and desperately attempt to savour the few hours of sunlight (if any) that we can can get our hands on. For those of us in our run-of-the-mill 9-5 jobs, it can feel like we spend the majority of our time waking up and going to sleep in the dark.
Fear not though, I am not the grinch that is trying to ruin this debatable magical time of year, and I am definitely not here to steal anyone’s cheer.
I want to talk about this period because it has always been my most dreaded time of year. My anxiety is year round, and it’s intensity can fluctuate depending on the circumstances I am faced with. However, regardless of where I’m at, I have always feared winter and it has always impacted my mood.
As much as I love London, the only true aspect of it that I find frustrating is winter (and I’m sure many people would agree as the weather is the gateway to awkward small talk conversation amongst Londoners and people around the UK). It is not so much the fact that it’s cold, I can deal with cold. What I really struggle to deal with is not seeing any proper daylight and nighttime arriving anytime before 6 PM- it just gets to me and it always has. I always hear people complain about February being there least favourite month because winter has dragged on for so long, but I actually really cherish February because March is about to take over and that means that winter can officially roll over. February is the finish line for me, the final push, and March is the light at the end of the tunnel.
October is bearable until we hit our annual daylight savings tradition, and then within a few days November officially commences. With each day in November, the sun starts setting earlier and earlier, and my heart feels gloomier and gloomier. That is why November has always been my least favourite month, it is the beginning of an excruciating marathon that I never wanted to sign up for.
With all of this being said, I feel like the weather in November can really augment my anxiety. Facing the weather during this time was the most challenging part of moving to London especially because I grew up in a hot tropical country where the weather is generally always hot, you get bucket tons of sun, and the sun always sets at the same time (consistency is always much appreciated by my anxious demon).
This is not to say that I am miserable over winter, after all I am now going into my seventh winter in London (6 years living here already!) and if it were that bad I’d like to think that I wouldn’t still be here. What I’m saying is that it can exaggerate anxious emotions that are already present due to completely unrelated circumstances.
In so many of my blog posts discussing my anxiety, I state that anxiety is not a choice but we choose how we manage it. Well, in honour of my blog that I created a few months ago which has truly allowed me to self reflect and manage my anxiety through self-expression, I am determined to not let myself become overcome by my least favourite month of the year.
I may have mocked London’s consumerism in my opening statement, but like I said London is truly beautiful during Christmas. While Christmas isn’t really that near, it’s definitely here in London. There are plenty of festive lights to decorate the city and its’ many boroughs, and without sounding too cheesy it truly melts my heart (cheese toasty style, eh?).
I am very aware, especially because of how stressed I am already feeling due to work, I am dangerously close to falling into a work/eat/sleep repeat routine that will involve…well…working eating and sleeping and then repeating. A routine where I will miss all that this wonderful city has to offer during this time. I have a 9-5 desk job where I get hardly no movement. Now more than ever it is easy for me to excuse eating greasy tuna melts and reaching for a can of a coca cola on a daily basis (which I’m already doing more than I’d like to admit in the past 2 weeks), and ditching my fitness regimen because ‘It’s too cold and I’m tired and I want to huddle in bed watching an excessive amount of telly’.
While I am always more motivated to exercise during the summer (my endorphin levels are automatically increased when there’s plenty of daylight going around), winter is really the crucial time for me to be exercising because it is precisely what will give me endorphins. I believe that with a combination of exercise, day and nighttime activities, and self-reflection I can truly overcome this winter funk and make this November a slam dunk (once I start rhyming I find it hard to stop).
Here’s my master plan to become the little engine that can:
My goal is to exercise at least four to five times a week. Thanks to the discovery of Class Pass, I have slowly found a variety of classes that best suit my interest and fitness level/goals which I will aim to combine on a weekly basis. If I were to structure it, I’ll break it down as the following:
Monday evening: Barre or Reformer Pialtes
Tuesday evening: Reformer Pilates
Wednesday evening: Dance Class
Friday evening: Reformer Pilates
Saturday morning: Optional
The classes/days can alternate of course and it is all up for adjustment, but writing it down allows me to set in the mode and it is much healthier that I get into a routine that involves a lot of movement versus my currently quickly progressing routine that involves a lot of sitting on the couch.
Daylight is limited this time of year but that doesn’t mean we need to live in fear. Because I get weekends off work, those are the best times to soak in the daylight (even if it is cloudy, it is important to see something that isn’t the pitch black sky, London isn’t famous for it’s starry evenings after all). Whether it be going for a walk in the park (which London has so many of) or going to my favourite brunch spot with my partner, there is plenty that London has to offer where the go to response isn’t staying in doors (which can be lovely so long as it doesn’t become the norm). Also, I am determined to make sure I go for a walk outside of the office during my lunch breaks.
On top of that, there are lots of activities that London has to offer during the evening to look forward to. Whether it be the Christmas lights ceremony at Oxford Circus, the fireworks at Ally Pally, or the fairytale-esque ice rinks at Somerset House or The Natural History Museum- there is plenty of fun to look forward to this November. During the weekday evenings, on nights I’m not exercising, I’m determined to meet a friend for dinner at least once a week or go to the cinema with my partner.
The last ingredient in this winter healing concoction of mine is my beast weapon and anxiety’s biggest nightmare: self-reflection. Self-reflection may be terrifying at times when we have to face thoughts and fears that we may not always be ready to stare in the eye, but when we do something really magical can come out of it all. Self-reflection allows for self-healing and self-acceptance, and many times I find that it allows me to move forward even when I thought I couldn’t. This blog is the best way for me to self-reflect, so I am making a pact with myself that I will write an update at least once a week this November on how I’m feeling, in order to ensure that I am always persevering.
So there you have it…my not-so-secret recipe to beating the winter blues. It is a first timer recipe so I’m not sure how well it will turn out, but there’s only one way to find out 🙂