How to Survive the Rest of Winter

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Last week at this time I was feeling heavy. My mind was clogged. My body was achy and weak. I felt stuck, lethargic, slow. I didn’t want to do much, and everything exhausted me. I had gotten sick right after Christmas and my bug lingered for a good week. Combined with holiday let down and freezing temperatures, I just wasn’t worth much.

It’s no surprise that I went down. In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, I let myself go. By this I mean I stopped watching my sugar intake, I stopped making nutritious meals for myself. I started drinking more wine than usual. I skipped some yoga classes in favor of staying under the covers. All of which led to my less than stellar state.

In essence, I had stopped doing the work.

Despite the “new year” energy that’s everywhere right now, there’s something about mid-January that makes it hard to get going again. Once we get past all of the “new year new you” hoopla, we’re just left with the rest of winter. Which, if your constitution is vattic like mine, kind of sucks.

I hate the cold. I hate the wind. I hate scraping ice off of my car every damn day, and then shivering most of the way to work. Without the distraction and excitement of the holidays, it’s just winter. It’s dark, it’s cold, and that makes it really hard to get out of bed and to the yoga studio at 5:45 a.m.

But in all of the time I’ve been practicing I’ve learned this: Doing the work is easier than not doing the work.

I find that when I push myself to do the things that make me feel good, that nourish me and care for me, even when I don’t really feel like it, then everything is easier. I feel better, I act better and I work better. When I’m taking care of business, everything is better.

This means that as much as I hate scraping my car at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark, when it’s 12 degrees outside, I hate feeling tightness in my body and stuck in my mind more. So I do the work.

It means that even though I’m tired and spent after working all day, and want to sit down with a big plate of pasta, a bottle of wine and the remote control, I know that doing so will only make me feel heavier and more tired. So I do the work.

Maintaining our practices—whether this means yoga, meditation, nourishing ourselves properly, running, playing with our kids or walking the dog—is important as we begin the slow climb to spring.

But maintenance is also important year-round.

I find that the times when I least want to go to yoga, or least want to meditate, are the times when I need to do so the most.

Whether it’s because it’s cold and dark outside, or because I’ve been in a funk or because something bigger is going on, I know that if I just do the practice, a little piece of me will feel better. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, a big piece will feel better.

So we can get to yoga class, or spin class or Zumba. We can prepare healthy meals for ourselves, and do something that makes our heart sing. It doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we do something that feeds us, and do that thing regularly, if not every day.

Because this is the other thing I’ve learned in all the time I’ve been practicing: No matter how difficult it is to get to my mat, once I do, I never regret it.

Originally published on elephant journal.

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