After a year of pretending that a walk down the block is just as rewarding as a week’s long vacation, I’m finally going stir crazy. The dark, January days could be part of my issue, but not having the option to safely travel has given me an extreme case of cabin fever. Anyone who lives in the Midwest can relate. The sky matches the sidewalks and everything is grey, dirty and flat like a scene from the beginning of Joe Versus the Volcano.
Normally around this time of year, we escape the gloom and fly off to a sunny part of the world filled with beaches, swimming, snorkeling and fun, but this year, well… you know what I’m going to say. This year is very different from last January and getting out of town doesn’t feel like an option.
I know some people are still traveling, but for me, traveling is more than just going somewhere else. A real vacation is experiencing the nature in a different place, learning about the culture, walking thru the towns, browsing thru the shops and eating all the new and unusual food, as long as it’s vegetarian of course. Basically doing all the things we are too uncomfortable doing right now…
So instead of traveling, I’ve found some ways to trick my brain into thinking I’ve gotten a break from the mundane. I’ve had so many friends relate to how I feel that I wanted to share a few ways to break free without having to pack a suitcase.
5 Ways to Escape the Mundane Winter Funk
1. DIVE INTO A BEAUTIFUL DOCUMENTARY
Yeah, yeah I know it’s getting popular now, but take it from a former/been-a-long-time-ago Scuba Diver, the My Octopus Teacher documentary is so beautifully filmed, you will feel as if you’re diving. I love that about this movie because it totally transports us to a completely different world. It shows us a brilliant, beautiful kelp forest filled with bright and beautiful creatures, but most importantly, it gives us a deep appreciation for the creatures we know so little about.
I can’t imagine how many photographers, camera angles and work it took to create such a seamless, gorgeous, fluid (sorry) film. It is totally worth the hour and twenty minutes and it will stay with you forever.
2. READ: GET LOST IN A STORY
First, subscribe to the National Geographic Online Magazine.
As a kid, I lived for the National Geographic Magazine. The photography was so vivid and real, it felt as if I were dropped smack into the center of a far away village or flown into space with a team of NASA Astronauts. Their photography is still amazing, and as a subscriber you receive weekly emails. My favorite? Your Weekly Escape email that delves into stories about our universe expanding faster than expected, how smart birds really are, and so much more.
Next, get lost in a good book. Go to Jamaica and read How Stella Got Her Groove Back, a classic by Terry McMillan that will make you feel as if you are right there on a sunny beach with the main character.
For sheer comedy, read David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. I promise you will laugh out loud.
3. WATCH A GREAT MOVIE: TRANSPORT TO A SIMPLER TIME
Sure, new releases are fun, but there’s nothing more comforting than watching an old movie. I’m talking a really old movie here. I know, the first thing I think of as soon as the movie starts is “no one is wearing a mask” or “everyone is standing so close to each other“, but once I get past those stark reminders of the times we’re living in, I begin to feel a sense of sentimentality, security and comfort.
The first time I saw a Hitchcock movie, it was on a big screen in my college film class. North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint is witty, funny and suspenseful but Hitchcock’s hit list doesn’t end there. Watch Psycho, Rear Window and Vertigo for some great fashion, sets and humor.
For a fun soundtrack and beautiful artwork watch Disney’s Junglebook. The animation is pre-computer, hand drawn and the music includes hits by Louie Prima that will make you dance… for real.
A couple others that will relax you, make you want to overcome your fear and take romantic risks are Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep and Rip Torn, and Once Around with Holly Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss and Danny Aiello. You won’t stop singing Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon.
Finally, if you must watch something made within the last year or two, don’t miss Jojo Rabbit. Yes, it’s a movie about World War II, but trust me, you will laugh, cry and weep with joy at the end. This is one of my top five favorite films. You will learn all about the danger of racism, bigotry and war and a memorable quote by Ranier Maria Rilke…
“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”
4. OPEN UP TO NEW MUSIC: GET IN THE GROOVE
Anyone who knows me knows I love my music. Music can instantly turn my mood from dark to bright. I rely on music to get me thru the worst of times and I blare it to exaggerate the best of times. Some of my favorite playlists are self made, but there are still some pretty happy ones you can find on Spotify.
For the 1970’s, download the Guardian of the Galaxy Volume I and II. Then bring it up to present day. I’m a big fan of bands that make me smile like The 1975, Foster the People and Tame Impala. For a mix of Indie Rock, download Garden Indie and be sure to play I Wanna Be a Cowboy Baby nice and loud. CMAT’s lyrics will make you laugh and definitely raise your spirits. Then order in margaritas, veggie tacos and guac and listen to Boleros Pop. Finally, go way back in time and play the classics done by Peter Nero on It Had to Be You. Pour a martini or a mocktail in your favorite glass and relax. You will love the piano, vocals and classic jazz.
5. TAKE THAT WALK: PICTURE PARADISE
Get out of the house. Even if we can’t board a plane and go to that warm, sunny place, taking a good, long walk is one of the best ways to improve your mood. In Chicago, it’s grey, snowy and cold, but if you bundle up right and wear the proper boots, you can walk outside and escape the mundane. Pretend the snow is sand, the noise of the cars passing you are waves on the beach and enjoy being outside.
For those already living in those warm, sunny places, if you’re healthy and able, NO EXCUSES! Get your ass outside walking, sign up for a lap swim, go for a hike and start the year off right.
No matter where you live, move as much as possible.
Exercise increases our serotonin levels improves our moods and helps us fight off depression.
So stop making excuses and go for a walk between Zoom meetings instead of browsing thru cat videos or eating something you’ll regret.
I honestly thought by ending 2020, life would automatically turn around, but just because we move into a new year, doesn’t mean we move into better times. That’s why now more than ever, we must do all that we can to stay positive.
So watch that smart, sweet octopus trust a human and try to open up to other points of view. Then flip thru colorful stories online, listen to uplifting music and take a walk.
Remember, nothing lasts forever, so until it ends, do whatever you can to keep your spirits up.
I may not be going to a place in the sun this winter but I refuse to wallow in the gloom.
Finally, wear your masks, stay far apart and be nice! If that octopus taught me anything, it was that kindness and love cures everything. We can beat this thing with a little help, empathy and understanding from each other. So as Bill and Ted said, “be excellent to one another!” Oh yeah, another great movie!
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Let ME know:
What are your tips & tricks for taking a mental getaway?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below!