Column: Charging through the winter doldrums

The hour was creeping toward noon one day last week, according to the (not inexpensive) watch I had purchased about six months earlier.

The hour was creeping toward noon one day last week, according to the (not inexpensive) watch I had purchased about six months earlier.

Problem was, I’d been back from lunch for more than two hours and the assorted clocks hanging on walls throughout the office put the actual time anywhere between 2:45 and 3 p.m., depending on which direction you looked.

So much for the 10-year guarantee, I grumbled as I pinched my fingertips around the tiny stem and wound the hands forward, all the while making a mental note to dig up the warranty.

The watch in question features eco-drive — a perpetually self-charging battery, supposedly designed to last a decade.

After I slipped the timepiece off that evening and placed it in its usual spot on the kitchen windowsill, I thought no more about it until I went to retrieve it the following morning.

As I fastened the strap around my wrist and stared blankly out into the darkness, it struck me — the problem wasn’t with my watch, it was with my life.

For the past few weeks I’d been leaving for work and coming home in the dark and sitting in a windowless office all day — usually wearing long sleeves that covered the watch’s face. The eco-battery wasn’t get any of the light — natural or artificial — it needed to charge itself.

Recent weekends spent bundled indoors, away from the driving wind and rain, certainly hadn’t helped matters.

But it seems it isn’t just my watch that is lacking the light it needs to recharge. Lately, I’ve found myself winding down each day well ahead of schedule, too.

The lack of daylight, combined with an unwillingness to brave the elements and head outside for fresh air and exercise, have left me rather weary — my own gears grinding to a halt by 9:30 most nights.

It’s basic physics — Newton’s first law: an object at rest stays at rest, and vice versa.

It’s the vice versa I struggle with.

I take some comfort in the realization I’m not alone in my lethargy. I know this because, apart from conversations I’ve had with other equally tired and lazy people, the condition has a name — Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD affects different people to varying degrees, but commonly it manifests in oversleeping, craving high-carb foods, feeling tired and/or lacking energy, all paired with the inevitable weight gain.

Check, check, check and … (sigh) check.

Like my watch, the darker it gets the slower my parts seem to move and I fall further and further behind.

Technically, it’s not even winter yet. There are many dark, cold and wet days ahead before the clocks spring forward once again.

It would be nice to think that all I need to put some spring back into my own step is a bit of sunshine on my face.

Easier said than done in November.

That’s where exercise and fresh air can help. But the challenge for all us winter hibernators is finding the willpower to bundle up and head out into the darkness — resisting the siren song of the sofa.

So we must remind ourselves that beneath this mental fog we are, in fact, strong and capable human beings.

If exercise is what it takes to shake off this sleepy winter haze, then exercise is what we will do, doggone it.

But first, a little nap — you know, just to recharge.

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