Wintertime has a certain negative connotation to most people that focuses primarily on the downsides, like sickness, frostbite, depression and worst of all, pale skin. However, winter can be a time of reconnection with your better self and the more important things in life that the summer sun can blind us from with its hazy nights of beer and belligerence.
Instead of dealing with depression, weight gain and overall self-loathing, the right winter activities can keep you moving and help you collect yourself, weed out the bad vibes and fill the newly vacant space with more of the good stuff. Just as some heartless, cutthroat corporations cut their bottom ten percent each year, so can you by gradually becoming a better man this winter. Here's some advice on how to make that happen.
Pick Up the Old You
One of the most influential people in your life may be yourself from past years. If you stop and think about it, you can learn a lot based solely on reflecting on how far you've come; from the squeaky-voiced, shy, zit-riddled teen to the confident, upstanding gentlemen you are (or may soon become). One of the most reliable sources for inspiration is to revisit some of your best moments and biggest influences. Without dwelling too much in nostalgia, see if you can't pull the drive you had at some of your peak moments, that raw focus with spirited determination, and apply it to the present.
You could pick up where you left off by finishing up a lingering project with fresh energy and new perspective, whether it means sifting through old work or revisiting someplace on this Earth that transcends those peak moments. Let winter be a time to wrap up your loose ends so you can clear off that weight and move onto the next project with a clean slate.
Start Something New
There's nothing as exciting for the mind as a blank canvas, metaphorically speaking, and its unlimited possibilities that could potentially unfold. Whether you're into woodworking, photography or blowing glass to create awesome bongs, winter is a darker season with a lighter social schedule. There's not as much to do and places to go when your car is trapped under six feet of snow, making the perfect opportunity for you to set down the remote and mix it up with something new. Turn on some music that gets your mind moving the right way, shut off the analytical brain and lose yourself for hours doing something that makes you feel good. Find something constructive you could do for hours and let the bitterness of winter pass you by. Who knows, you might find you've been missing out on something you love.
Be a Good Sport
It may be cold, but that's no excuse to stay indoors the whole winter and not take advantage of the best snow has to offer. Sledding, skiing and building snowmen are most possible during these months, so get out there and do it. Don't be the stick in the mud among your friends who decides it's too cold to go out and do something fun and then regrets it later, when they are sipping hot cocoa around a campfire and you are home watching reruns of "Two and a Half Men."
Host a Dinner Party
The reason days like Thanksgiving are so popular is because people love nothing more than consuming gargantuan portions of fresh-cooked food and washing it down with delicious intoxicants. Why should cold winter days be any different? We spend a healthy portion of winter cooped up in the house, so invite your closest friends to join you for a night of good conversation, top-notch cooking and a few libations.
Pull out all the stops and make a feast while you have a few cocktails and tell stories. Be so bold as to toss in a theme, if you like. Mexican food night during winter is a fun change of pace. Either way, keep an open mind and an open door, and you'll be surprised how quickly winter passes by.
Reacquaint Yourself with Loved Ones
The fast times and wild girls of summer can take some quality time away from important things like family and responsibility. Thanks to winter, there is a time to fix that. Winter can be a time to mend fences with the good people you may have let slip from your Rolodex, family or not. Call up old friends and catch up on how many kids they now have, write a letter to an older relative and, as always, send out some classic photographs so Grandma has something to put on her fridge. If nothing else, it'll hopefully keep these people from calling the cops if you unexpectedly show up on their front porch one day.
Channel Your Inner Author
You might be as good with words as women are at driving (jk ladies), but that's not the point. Writing has this amazing ability to organize ideas and make them more understandable for you and others. Take some time to write down your thoughts in your current state of mind, anything from opinions and irritations to infatuations. This is how memoirs are born. Putting pen to paper unloads the mind both creatively and therapeutically, so whether or not you realize it, you're doing yourself a favor. Don't think about how to write, just start doing it. In time, you might find you have a lot to say about one single thing, and eventually you might write that chip right off your shoulder.
Clean Out the Crap
Life can quickly lay a heavy weight on you with all its bills, technology, upkeep, downloads and overall fast-changing lifestyle. The best way to make it manageable is to take the downtime from sunshine as an opportunity to clean out the clutter, whether it's in your home or in your mind. Grade school love letters and little league trophies aren't as usable or worthy of display in your adult life, so read the letters, flip through old photographs and have a good cry before organizing them in boxes to be stored elsewhere. Your physical home and mental space should both be simplified and clutter-free, giving you just what you need at that time in your life. Pictures can go on the walls, but there's no need to have your past years impeding on your current life. Make things easy to find and tasks quick to accomplish for yourself. By the time summer rolls around, you'll be glad you did, and by next winter, it'll surely be a hoarder's mess all over again.
Do Something Nice for Someone Else
It can be hard to have everything you could possibly want and never have a real need, but given the spirit of the season, it might be time to spare others of your first world problems. If you've ever watched a cheesy '90s TV show, and we know you have, you know there's always a break in the storyline for a holiday classic episode where the group gets together to help out the less fortunate. Why should reality be any different for us?
Not everybody feels comfortable about volunteering in soup kitchens and rescuing stray cats off the side of the road, but if you can find your own way to help out, then it'll more than likely be worth your time. If you can donate to your company's toy or food drive, that's great; but it can be the little things that help too, and it doesn't have to require money. Those '90s shows were rarely wrong about life, so give it a try when the time is right.
Work Out the Negativity
The gloomy weather and lack of outdoor activity can obviously take its physical toll, especially with all the hearty family meals, but the winter can also do a number on your insides too. A lack of movement and too much thinking time will eventually weigh you down with negativity and can lead to more acute physical problems aside from a little beer belly, so tip the scale in your favor this winter.
Exercise at least three or four times a week, even if it's just walking. You don't have to join a gym and outgrow all your shirts, but it's no secret that exercise can work out the stress and keep your mind relatively clear. If you live someplace where outdoors and driving are off limits, take the time to fix up the house, build some shelves or make it more of a home. Paint helps. Exercise doesn't require skin-tight shorts and a headband. If you're moving, you're grooving, then you have the best cure for keeping the bad thoughts out and whip yourself into shape while doing it.