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A challenge gang to battle the seasonal blues

Columnist writes about teaming up with your friends to motivate wellness

The first week back at work or school after the holiday break can be a trying one for anybody.

There are many stressors leading up to Christmas/ New Year’s Eve that can result in excessive feasting, merry making, some accompanying laziness, and often a giant serotonin dump.

The hormone, which stabilizes our mood, and feelings of well-being, can need some replenishing during the month of January.

There is a pill for that (5-HTP is available on the shelves of many drugstores) but it’s not the same as accomplishing the gentle rise of feeling well on your own.

Or with the a little help from your friends.

Last week I got out of bed feeling very unmotivated. I was stiff, tired, and a little grumpy.

I was working from home due to the snowstorm, so felt I should be more content.

A hot caffeinated drink did little to improve my mood. I needed a different jolt to the system, so opted to do some push-ups.

Over the course of the next half hour I completed 100 of them in sets of 20 whenever I was at a loss for something to write.

It wasn’t too easy, and wasn’t too hard, and it helped. I was able to get back on task quickly, and felt a little better about myself for the remainder of the day.

I decided to pass along the tip to a couple friends in the form of a challenge, asking them to do 100 push-ups before the end of day too. After some light grumbling, they took up the gauntlet and completed the exercise too.

On paper, it should be simple enough to do the same thing day-after-day to get that little boost, and feel better about ourselves but, unfortunately, that’s not how our tricky brains work.

I might do 100 push-ups for three days, or even ten days, a month at most, but at some point, it’s no longer going to provide that same boost. It’ll be old hat for my brain.

So I threw it back to my pals, and asked one of them to provide the challenge for the next day. I stipulated that it could be anything that will require a little bit of effort, which should improve your day in some way.

The Challenge Gang group chat was created, and another pal was added to it. We’ve all been taking turns issuing a suggested task for the day, and we encourage each other to get going on them.

One day we read 15 pages of a book, and another day we meditated for 15 minutes. We’ve also done 50 jump squats, spent five minutes stretching, and this morning we were challenged to take a very cold shower for two minutes.

Granted, it’s only being going for less than a week, but the variety is such that each challenge is still interesting, and no one member is responsible for coming up with all the tasks, or handling the lion’s share of encouragement.

Will Challenge Gang last all year? Perhaps not, but if it gets us through the doldrums of January and February it will have been well worth it.

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