The winter months can be depressing and non-productive at first, especially when the sun first disappears. By keeping busy and trying new things, those months can actually be rather exciting, and free of much of the stress associated with the Holidays.
When the end of the year rolls around and the sun starts to disappear for days at a time, I find it necessary to start bolstering my fall and winter list of hobbies. The list is always short at first, but as days grow shorter, it grows longer. It’s almost a requisite to take that little bit of extra time in the Fall to think of ways to keep busy. Without those distractions, it is entirely too easy to start watching television for hours at a time or zoning out to the sound of steady rainfall. Luckily, there are certain things that are constants, allowing anyone with a case of the rainy day blues to feel productive and energetic.
The Fall TV Season
The end of September and beginning of October is when the networks roll out their biggest and brightest new shows for the nation to enjoy. In recent years especially, the fall lineup has gotten markedly better. And with the advent of Internet download services, it’s easier than ever to catch the newest shows as they are aired, even if you can’t be home every day of the week.
NBC has a new service on their website that allows users to stream all of their new shows in real time and watch past episodes. Additionally, iTunes still features many of the top shows on television as well for $1.99 downloads. Pick your top favorites from years past or check out new shows like Chuck, Pushing Daisies, or Cane – all of them getting great reviews so far.
Join a Gym
This might not seem like the most fun item on the list, but by joining a gym early, you can avoid all of the self loathing and resolution busting after the Holidays. Plus, it is a great time to start exercising more intently as you get the chance to step out of the rain and into a nice, relaxing space where you can have fun while getting fit.
Write a Novel
My favorite time of the year, as a writer, is the early winter months. Just before it starts to get too cold and the holidays have left me drained and lifeless, I am given the freedom of time and abundance of energy needed to work in earnest on my most interesting projects. Coincidentally, November also happens to be National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.
In its 8th year, NaNoWriMo attracts thousands of people from around the world who all work on their novels of at least 50,000 words for the 30 days in November. The result is a torrent of millions of words produced every year by average non-writers who just enjoy a good challenge. NaNoWriMo is a great opportunity to turn off the television and tap into the old imagination for a few weeks and see what comes of it.
Learn the Guitar
This is a general statement, but what better way to start enjoying the winter months than to pick up a new hobby that will take a bit of time to master. A guitar or other musical instrument is a great example of the kinds of things you can start doing when you have a lot of free time and no sunlight with which to use it. It might seem like a lofty goal at first, but after a while, the extra hour you spend every night strumming at those familiar chords or gluing together a model car will be one of the most enjoyable portions of your entire day.
Don’t forget either that you can spend days at a time working on one hobby and then pick up another if you get bored. Don’t feel pigeonholed by the possibility of having to spend your time dong the same thing for an entire winter. As soon as someone starts to feel like they have to do something, they start to succumb to the doldroms of monotony – the last thing anyone wants to experience.
Keeping Busy – Keeping Productive
The real problem with winter is that it is much too easy to simply give up as soon as the sun disappears and start lounging around waiting for Spring. The department stores don’t make this any easier when they start marketing massive quantities of multimedia to keep us indoors and on our couches. Movie season picks back up, DVDs go on sale, video games pick up and people start to prepare for the holidays.
It doesn’t need to be so simple though. If America took advantage of that extra free time available every evening instead of hibernating until Spring, those winter months would much less depressing and stressful. More importantly, some of the vaunted importance placed on the holiday season could be relieved, allowing families to make it through the end of the year without worrying about inflating credit card bills, inflating waistlines, and inflating boredom.
By Anthony Chatfield