It Gets Dark So Early, Now What?
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It Gets Dark So Early, Now What?

The days are shorter, darker, and colder let's be real. Here are 15 personal tools to combat the sunless days and make the most out of it.

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It Gets Dark So Early, Now What?
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This is a response to Keeping Active in the Winter.

Ahh the days are here where the sun sets pretty much at 5pm every day. As much as I love the season of winter with the holidays, days off, cute winter clothes and fires, it is hard going through your day to only have the sun set in what feels like the middle of the afternoon. Then, at 8pm, even though it is not that late one could say it feels like midnight and you adamantly think you are going crazy. Do you feel me? In order to make the most of the shorter and darker days, I have come up with a few tools that can make the short days feel a little longer and the darkness feel a little less, dark. Below are all the things I have been doing to keep me sane.

1. Grocery shop and cooking

Once the sun has gone down, it is hard to get the motivation to do anything but have no fear! This is the perfect time to learn a new recipe, meal prep something yummy, or bake a delicious pie that oozes apple cinnamon all over your home. Look up a recipe and see what you need, hit up the grocery store, and make an adventure out of it. If you are not in the baking mood, meal prepping is a great way to have food on hand when in a hurry. Currently, I have been meal prepping in the evening and it has saved me a ton of time and money. I will batch cook meats like ground turkey or ground beef so I can be ready to go for any dish. I will also batch cook potatoes and throw them in with my morning eggs or toss them in with some veggies. There are endless meals you can make, so get creative!

2. Host a game night

I love bringing people together and what better way to do that than with a game night. I recently hosted a casual game night and realized how much fun everyone genuinely had. If you have any games sitting around, bring them out to play! if you don't have any games or ones that are not good for a group, hit up your local game store to buy a few! Have a selection of games to choose from for your guests so people can have options for what they want to play. I also made sure to have bowls of snacks and different drinks to be the hostest with the mostest. Game night was such a hit we are trying to make it a bi-weekly thing now.

3. Trivia

If you need an excuse to get out of the house and test your knowledge, trivia is one of the best ways to do that! Whether you get a group or one other person to go, you will have a blast. Many local eateries have trivia and there is one almost every night of the week. You just might have to do some digging to find which one works for you and your friends schedule. At one point, I was going to trivia every Monday night with friends and we called ourselves "the trivia crew". The more people that learned about our weekly trivia adventure, the more people that wanted to join. It gave me something to look forward to and I always had a great time when I went, even if we were sore losers.

4. Workout

I sometimes struggle with this one but who doesn't? At the end of the day, we get tired and do not feel like hitting up the gym when it is pitch black outside at 5pm. Even when it is hard, I tell myself I will feel better after I workout, and in most cases, I usually do. Make a pumped up playlist and jam to it on the way to the gym. This is what gets me going! Once my playlist is going, I feel warmed up and ready to jump into my workout. Even if it is a quick workout, I still feel happy that I went. With working out, you can set goals and get into a routine to meet those goals. Whether that is getting stronger, running farther, or improving your flexibility, there is always something to achieve. You are strong and can set your mind to anything!

5. Self Care

Give yourself a self care night to relax and reset during the week! For me, I will put on one of my favorite face masks and then paint my nails while the mask dries. I will also have my favorite piano music going in the background and a candle lit to help me de-stress for the ultimate relaxation night. Whatever self care looks like to you, whether that be meditation, taking a bath, painting your nails, doing a face mask, or even doing a restorative yoga session, it is important to treat yourself like the amazing human being you are.

6. Puzzles

Okay I know what you are thinking, a puzzle? LAME! But, let me tell you, a puzzle really sucks you in once you start it. We recently bought a puzzle and spread it across our coffee table and it has become something we look forward to in the evenings instead of reaching for our phones and browsing social media. You will find yourself excited to see it all come together once you start and when you do finish it? The sense of accomplishment is unparalleled.

7. Dance party

If no one is home, or if the person that is home will not harshly judge your dancing skills, get up and have a dance party. When I found myself sitting around and not doing much, I would tell myself "just go put on an upbeat song and start bopping around." Once I was up and moving, I was in full blown dance mode. Dancing releases endorphins and who does not want some of the happy hormone?

8. Coloring books

When COVID hit, I was looking for ways to pass the time. "Bring in adult coloring books to the chat". I have several coloring books and they really do pass the time because once you start one, it is hard to stop. I found them soothing and a way for me to express my artistic ability.

9. Switch up your room

Since we can find ourselves inside more these days, a little switch up can do just the trick to make a room feel new. Rearrange your bed and move it to a new wall, add new decor, go minimalistic and clean up your space, change your sheets to something different, add mood lighting, the options are endless! Personally I will change my sheets, pillows and decor based on the season. Currently? I have snowman sheets, Christmas pillows and a little Christmas decor in my room to ring in the season and I am not complaining.

10. Clean

Sometimes we all need a good winter cleaning. Put some music on and go through your clothes to see what you can toss or donate. I will also use this time to clean out my desk area, bedroom space and bathroom. If there is anything I have learned through the years is that there is always something to clean. I will also go through my bathroom cabinet and toss any expired bath products or items out I don't find myself using! When everything is clean, I feel like my space is fresh and I can actually breathe!

11. Read or Write

There is nothing like picking up a good book and getting lost in the story. Take advantage of the shorter days by reading more and diving into books you may not have picked up before. I usually read fiction books, but right now I am diving into historical novels to broaden my knowledge and learn something new. You never know what genre you might end up liking! If you are not a big reader, get a journal or computer and write! Write about anything. This could be your day, your thoughts, recent events, a fictional story, funny memories, literally anything. If you typed something up, keep a log of your written work on a computer in a folder so you can look back or add to it for the future.

Another cool thing to write about? A blog for you and all things you! Went to a cool restaurant and had the best grilled cheese ever? Discovered a new boutique that sells one of your favorite brands? Hit up a new hiking trail that you don't want to forget? Write it all down in blog format with pictures and fun edits! Then, when you are thinking of the places and things that you love, they are all right there. Remember this all for you and about you, you can craft the blog however you want! Friends will be impressed and you might even influence other people to start their own!

12. Live music

Check your local events page to see if there are free, live music events happening around your town! A lot of restaurants will have writer nights were you can grab dinner and listen to some awesome live music for free. Since I live in Nashville, there is always a live music event happening but you never know what could be brewing around your town!

13. Set up Face-time dates!

A lot of my friends do not live close by and it is hard to stay involved in each-other's lives. A way to combat this and catch up on all the latest from your friends? Set up a weekly Face-time call with a friend in the evening! My friend Jacob lives all the way in Raleigh and it is hard to talk a lot with our busy schedules. Together, we decided to set up a Reminder in our phones to have a weekly catch up call with one another for an hour on Wednesday nights. It has been a great way to stay in touch and make sure we are involved in each-others lives.

14. Have a Teleparty

Want to watch something and chat with friends or a partner that can't be with you? Set up a Teleparty date and watch a move or show together! Teleparty works for Netflix, Youtube, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video!

15. Take a drive

Sometimes we all need to just get out and drive. When I was in college and needed a break from studying I would jump in my car and drive around back roads listening to my favorite songs. When I got my first job and worked from home, on breaks I would jump in my car and take the long way around to a coffee shop. Now that it is so dark in the evenings, jumping in your car and taking a drive can do just the trick for some free therapy. Drive around, blast some music (at a safe level) and get yourself a treat in the process if you want!

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