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Dear Emily: Breaking out of that winter funk

by on February 06, 2018 1:03 PM

Dear Emily,

I have found myself extremely wrapped up in life lately and feel that I am spiraling. With this weather, I’ve been struggling to get out of bed or engage in activities that I know and love. What can I do to get out of this funk?

Dear funk-y,

Take an awe walk. OK, so let me explain what awe is. Awe is the sense of wonder felt when you encounter something that reaches beyond the limits of human understanding. An awe walk can be something that you go out every day with a specific intention for or it can just be your walk to class or work every day. This is what you do … Bundle up in your winter jacket, warmest scarf, and favorite gloves, then walk outside. With this funk you are in, it’s possible you’ve lost your sense of wonder. Think of it this way, when you watch a child engage they are so awestruck by everything and everyone. It’s extremely pure and organic. There is such a sense of innocence and curiosity. It’s true to say that us adults are far less likely to be awestruck than children, but there is no reason for this to change. Taking a look at your surroundings and appreciating the fact that each step you take is getting you somewhere is magical. Since you feel that you are spiraling, find a way to take a step back and appreciate something new. I would like to give you a few tips while on this awe walk.  

It would be helpful to put away electronics and disconnect for a few minutes.  Try walking somewhere new. If you are on your way to class/work, take a different route than you normally would.  If you have an extra 20 minutes, walk around your neighborhood. Visit a new part of your town. If you’ve always wanted to walk around that pond you drive past every day or hike up that trail you have always been curious about, by all means, do it! Any place you go or see, look for details in things you may have missed before or have yet to see. Be curious and ask questions about what you are seeing. Now, awe walks do not have to take place necessarily outdoors. They can occur in a local coffee shop, a museum, a library. Heck, they could even occur in your refrigerator because we all know that it’s likely you don’t know what is in the bottom left drawer or on the back right shelf. You might find some dill pickles or unopened croissant dough! If you’re asking me, those two things do not expire so that’s a treat.

If you take anything from this, I hope that today you begin to take moments to observe and wonder. I truly think this is an act of self-care that will help you get out of your funk.

Dear Emily,

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I am unsure what to get my girlfriend. We’ve been dating for eight months so it’s not a new relationship but it’s also our first Valentine’s Day together. What do you think I should get her?

Dear Lover,

First of all, I’m stuck in a hard place with the topic of Valentine’s Day because I think we should celebrate our loved ones 365 days a year. But, I do understand why this Hallmark holiday exists and I really love to love so I’m happy to indulge in it.

It’s not a fresh relationship but it’s a “holiday” first with your woman! I don’t think it is what you should get for her rather it be what you should do for and with her. All of my best gifts whether it be from a former relationship, beloved family, or dear friend have been based on experiences and memories we share together. I won’t lie, I think every girl gets butterflies at the thought of their special someone getting them flowers or a thoughtful piece of jewelry, but what will be cherished most is an experience you have together. Treat your lady! Often, we dread this holiday in relationships because there is such a pressure to spend money or to impress each other. This should not be the case. You can celebrate your relationship and admiration for one another on a budget and even right in your own home.

Plan a nice evening with her. It could be fun to cook together and create a homemade meal. Set the table nice just like you would if you were out, light some candles and have date night at your own kitchen counter – be present sitting across from one another and engage fully. Build a fort. It sounds childish but there is no denying that we love reliving moments of our childhood. In the fort, string lights, pop some popcorn (with a lot of butter), throw every pillow and blanket in it that you can find, and have cozy time together. It’s the winter season and it’s likely you are both stressed and overwhelmed with life, so take the day to catch a minute and take time to relax together. If you don’t want to stay in, that’s great too! Take the time to make a reservation rather than just walking into a restaurant or establishment. It’s a small thing – but, when you take time to make a reservation it shows that there was thought put into the time you have together. Consider what your girlfriend likes and maybe even ask her what she would prefer to do because there is no denying that we love to have a say in things. The best advice I can give you is to be thoughtful and mindful, but to remain your whole self in this day.

So, to reiterate, I believe the best gifts are built on the most memorable experiences shared with others. On a side note and to give you a nudge, I don’t mean to speak for the population of women but we all really appreciate a hand-written note or letter from people we love most.


Emily Chertow is senior at Penn State University majoring in journalism. She offers nonprofessional advice from the point of view of a young person. You can send her questions or comments at [email protected] 


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