There is a part of me that would rather just not exert myself, would rather not exercise or take the time to leave the house to do exercise of any kind. Every Thursday morning, I don’t feel like going to wallyball. I don’t feel like going to dance on Monday nights. It gets worse in winter when I don’t feel like leaving the house at all. I was going to go snowboarding yesterday afternoon, but it snowed. Actually, the reason I chose not to go was because I had a goal to get something else done. My morning didn’t go as planned to I decided to follow through in the afternoon. And it was easier and more efficient to stay home.
I however, did go play in the freshly fallen 10 inches of snow. I did a lot of shovelling, I cleaned off my vehicle, and got my snowboard out of the shed and into my van. I had to cut a trail to the compost pile across the yard and I another one into the forest to dump three buckets of ash I had accumulated over the cold spell last week. My heart rate went up and I got quite breathless when I carried the larger can of ash that contained more coal ash and more sooty ash, which resulted in a couple of rests along the path. I got a full 60 minutes of exercise today just going out in the snow and doing things.
I could have had more fun with it and in the past, I have done just that. Making tracks walking around the yard in deep snow or, running for short distances. Those things can get your heart rate up really quickly. On days like today, when the weather is close to the freezing mark, (especially after the deepfreeze when just 7 days earlier, it was forty decrees Celsius colder), the weather felt rather balmy. I worked up quite a sweat too.
The thing I find with winter is a lack of motivation to get out and exercise. Eating season (even with tempering), along with the short, cold and cloudy days of December kind of gets me in a stupor that is difficult to come out of. In the northern hemisphere there is a benefit to the New Year’s resolutions or the goal reviews. It can help fire up a person to get out of the slump of late fall and holiday festivities.
Is it any wonder that blue Monday comes three weeks into January. First, people come down off the high of the holidays and realize things are just the same as before or worse, which is the second reason: people are paying the credit cards due on that Monday if they have a mid month due date. Then there is the feelings of failure because after two weeks of going to the gym or eating well or working hard at something and seeing little to no results and being hit by really cold weather, and/or getting a flu/cold, some people may be feeling like ‘why bother’. It is normal to get discouraged over all of those things….for a short time. It is less normal for those who have practiced mindset skills, or those who have low expectations…yes there is something to be said for the practice of low expectations.
What are some of the things besides low expectations that can help us through the hard times, whatever time of year it is? A really big thing: Get outside! Go outside and move around, follow a path into nature, make tracks in the snow or the leaves or on the fresh spring grass. There is evidence that walking in the forest can also improve your immunity.
Move a little faster than you normally would. Get your heart rate up. When you get your heart rate up, it has multiple health benefits including increasing oxygen to your brain. Not only will you feel good because of it, you will have a better outlook on things and you will retain more information. Getting your heart rate up for a little longer or up and down…because you should stop and enjoy nature as well…will help you feel like you have had a good workout, which will help your mindset but the good workout will also help you sleep.
Sleep is important and getting outside (preferably in nature) and getting exercise will help you sleep better. If you study something after you go outside and move, you will retain more as well. And bonus: learning also helps you improve sleep quality. It’s a really big win when you put together the trifecta of outside, exercise and learning.
Other slump removers vary with people. Cleaning my environment is a good way to make me feel better. I spent the other day cleaning house. Although I got more steps than my yesterday, I only got about 6 minutes of exercise. I guess I wasn’t cleaning/moving fast enough. Listening to motivating podcasts also helps me feel great. I do that while I am doing things like cleaning house or shovelling snow, so I am learning while I am moving. Getting organized, and getting rid of things that no longer serve me are great to do in winter and also helps me feel lighter and accomplished. I still have a long way to go on that one, but making headway.
There are many ways to get out of a slump but for me the biggest problem when I am in a slump is feeling motivated to get out of it. It sounds like a good idea, but I would actually have to do something and I usually don’t feel like it. That’s when taking action creates action and action creates momentum. It’s getting prepared the day before when I am motivated and putting on the proper gear, rather than thinking I will change later. It’s having my snowboard in my vehicle and my gear bag in the vehicle or by the door. It’s setting myself up to do what I need to do so the moment I am supposed to do it, I just move to do it, rather than thinking of and having reasons to not do it.
I went snowboarding today. I played wallyball this morning for an hour and a half, had some lunch with the girls then headed to the hill. I picked up my pass, got my gear on and hit the slopes. Even as I was putting on my boots, I was feeling like it was a lot of work, but I was there so I did kept going. I did a few runs, felt the momentum, and got good and tired. I didn’t stay long, I didn’t need to as I have a pass and can go again next week. I will be sore tomorrow from the first day of boarding. On the way home though, it always feels like magic, like I have done a whole lot of exercise and I will sleep well tonight. And now that I have been once this season, it will be easier to go next time.
When it comes to anything a little new, the first step is the most easy to put off. When you get into a slump, what are some of the things you do that brings you out of it, gets you moving, and starts momentum?