Breaking Out of Groundhog Day

We always seem to slip into a Groundhog Day syndrome in the post-holiday winter months. Time to get away.

The winter months after the Christmas holidays are usually the worst time of year for us. Cold, dark, mostly staying indoors except for walking the dog and taking exercise walks, with nothing much to do except for work and media.

We fall into a day-to-day routine that quickly becomes deadening. Get up, breakfast and coffee, work at the computer, maybe stop at the grocery store, eat the same foods again, watch some of the same media, sleep, repeat.

It quickly starts to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Every day is the same, with few chances for any kind of fresh experience that would break us out of the semi-stupor of day-to-day life. It can get depressing. Another day. No change in sight. We work remotely out of our house, and many days it can be really difficult to face turning on the computer and starting the work day.

Time for something new.

It's important to manage stimulation to keep yourself feeling alive, especially as you get older and have less external demands that provide opportunities for novelty. Your work slows down or ends, other responsibilities diminish, your physical capacity is reduced so you become less active in general. It can be easy to slip into a groundhog day lifestyle. So it becomes important to proactively engage with something new in your environment on a regular basis to keep your brain stimulated. A new or different activity. New experiences.  

We usually start planning out a spring travel itinerary in January. Anything to get away. Small trips or large. Driving a few hours to a hotel for the weekend in a new place can sometimes do the trick. Just 2 nights can seem like a much longer getaway if you go to the right place. Traveling overseas is much better. That can shock your system and bring you back to life, and has a more lasting impact.  

We try to travel for a month or two when we go out of the country. Slow travel, staying in one area for the entire period. Living in a new environment for an extended period helps us become re-energized and inspired.

I am writing this in Edinburgh Scotland. It’s the beginning of March, and we've come to spend a month and a half visiting with friends and family.  We rented a very nice one bedroom furnished apartment with a full kitchen and living room, in a nice downtown area. Walking distance to good grocery stores, intimate bars and restaurants, museums, stores, coffeeshops, bakeries. Planning for weeks filled with new places to explore, new foods to eat, and soccer on the pub televisions. We have a number of important initial tasks to perform, like filling the refrigerator, getting a monthly bus pass, and getting a pass to the nearby gym situated in a Victorian building with an amazing pool and sauna. The weather in Scotland in March and April is cold, windy and rainy. Still gets dark early. But it seems perfect.

Those first days in a new place always seem especially vivid. The air has a different smell. The light is special. A bit of risk to add some edge. Will the apartment be acceptable, or are there some fatal flaws that will ruin the visit. Will the luggage make it. We have stayed in Edinburgh numerous times for weeks at a time, and know the central area pretty well, so this trip has a bit less mystery and risk, but it is still exciting every time we visit. An opportunity to try new things, and revisit older experiences that we liked. Like visiting favorite restaurants, and trying new ones. Getting to know our new neighborhood, and visiting others that we previously stayed in. Recalling how to use the bus app to determine the routes. Stores to get staples for our apartment.

We have only been here a few days as I write this, but we appear to be on a good trajectory. The Groundhog Day calendar has definitely flipped to a new day.

Stay tuned for additional posts.

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Helping you thrive in your 50s and beyond. Advice, tools, and inspiration for navigating midlife and post-work life (with just a tiny bit of travel thrown in).