Winter Pick Me Ups
It’s cold. Like the air hurts my face and burns my nostrils when I attempt to breath cold. Snowflakes fall silently outside of my classroom window and melt on the pavement at recess just as my memories of sunshine and green grass and flowers fade. Cheesy similes aside, it is the winter doldrums. You know, that time from February to March when weeks stretch out before us with Spring Break only a faint light in the distance. It is dark when we pull into the school parking lot in the morning and sometimes dark when we trudge our tired bodies out of school to head home. One of my teacher colleagues once said, “Don’t try to make any rational decisions in the month of March. Seriously, don’t even buy a pair of shoes. You’ll regret it later.” Wise words indeed.
But last year I decided I didn’t just want to survive these long winter days, I wanted to thrive. Okay, maybe thrive is a strong word, but I wanted to imbue these days with some joy and light, to make them bearable. Here are a few things I did on the daily that helped lift my spirits. They worked so well, in fact, that I have continued them this year. Maybe they can help lift your spirits, too?
- Listen to LOTS of music.
Every morning when I got to school I left the florescent lights in my classroom off and just turned on my desk lamp. Then I connected my cell phone to my speakers and started playing some tunes. I tended to lean toward relaxing playlists or upbeat, fun songs. I would listen right up to when students started arriving, and then something interesting happened: students started asking me to leave the music on while they were getting settled and doing bell work. It improved their mood as well, which was an added bonus.
- Sit in direct sunlight whenever possible.
Several of my colleagues and I usually crowded into the small, florescent-lit staff lunchroom to eat and kvetsch over the events of the morning. But last winter we decided to move the party to the school lobby, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and sunlight beaming in during the noon hour. Despite some of us needing to wear sunglasses to keep from being blinded, we all agreed the change of scenery was refreshing.
- Go on lunch walks with colleagues.
Speaking of lunch, to help shed some the five (or ten…but who’s counting?) pounds I gained over the holidays, I started walking for 20-30 minutes during lunch with a few colleagues. When it was too cold to walk outside, we paced the halls and just chatted about anything but school as we went. A little exercise raised our serotonin levels and recharged us for the afternoon ahead.
- Use aromatherapy in the classroom.
Last year I bought oil diffuser sticks for my classroom desk. This year I have graduated to a small essential oil vaporizer. I know so many websites out there will tell you that floral scents like lavender or ylang ylang are the most relaxing, but they just made me sneeze and gave me a headache. I found that food-based scents like orange, grapefruit and mint were more energizing, and my students liked them too. They made the classroom, overall, a more pleasant (and less stale) place to be.
- Plan a vacation
This one is two fold. First, you can plan mini weekend getaways for the months of February and March. These months are the off season for many hotels and B & B’s, so good deals can be found. Second, I always try to save major vacation planning for these months as well. Vacation planning is a deeply enjoyable enterprise that my husband and I like to embark on together. I sometimes think planning the vacation is as exciting as actually experiencing it. It really makes me happy to look at images of sandy beaches or forest trails knowing I will see those places in less than a year’s time. It helps me forget the bleak, grey landscape out of my window for a while. The only caution here is that cruise ship companies are aware of people’s need to escape during the winter, so they usually raise prices during the months of January – March. Therefore, cruises are best booked at another time.
With February upon us, I want to encourage all teachers out there to soldier on and find bits of joy in the chilly weeks ahead. A Pampered Teacher gift box could be a fun way to bring some happiness into your day. Our spring box is available now!
And remember, Easter is early this year (hallelujah!) and spring is right around the corner :)
Cover Photo by Jim Basa from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/winter-forest-illustration-718857/