What? December already?

Indeed. Tomorrow begins the treacherous final month of the year. It’s when we somehow eat a dozen cookies at a time…after the third slice of red velvet cake.  It’s when we buy that second pair of furry boots because we’re on the internet and already have our credit card out. Those who must spend the holidays with their families get depressed. Those who have no families to spend the holidays with get depressed. The best strategy seems to be to retreat onto the couch, snuggle with the 1750 ml bottle of Captain Morgan, and wait for the new year to start.

Then I’ll get my sh*t together, you say.

Noooooo! Come baaaaaaaaaaaack!

It’s true that December is traditionally the crappiest month of the year. The combo of cold + darkness + mandatory holiday cheer is agreeable only to Santa’s elves and Swedes. The elves are happy for the overtime, and the Swedes are happy everyone else is finally as miserable as them. Regular people, on the other hand, tend to melt into sad little puddles of half frozen pond scum.

But, as financial advisors like to say, past performance is not an indicator of future results. This December need not be another year of succumbing to scum. It can be a really good, solid month. Really! While December may never be as awesome as Han Solo, it need not be forever Jar Jar Binks.

To help, here are QF’s five to-dos for busting through December like the champ you are:

Make December month zero of 2013. When our coach wasn’t watching, we used to see who could dive the furthest down the pool with a running start. Whoever could get up the most speed on the pool deck usually won. Sure, every once in a while someone would wipe out on the slippery concrete and destroy their ACL, but hey. It was fun to see how much further you could get with a running start compared to the usual static start from the starting blocks. December 2012 is a 31-day running head start into 2013. Go ahead and make your new year resolutions now. Don’t stress – it can be a first draft. Just make a quick list, something from the gut, and pull out the top two or three resolutions. These are the things that will most dramatically change your life for the better. Then use December to get a month-long head start on these resolutions. If you want to get strong, what can you do in December to lift heavy? If you want to eat healthy, what can you do in December to get you on your way? You get the idea. Build up speed so you’re running fast by the time you hit your January 1 dive.

Start a new activity that involves human beings. This can be making a new friend, with or without benefits.  It can be cashing in that Groupon you got months ago for salsa lessons. It can be baby-sitting.  It can be going down your list of long lost friends you owe phone calls to and calling them.  Turns out, the decline of social connectedness  is something that psychologists have put their sliderules to and measured. A 2009 study found that 25% of Americans have no meaningful social support system at all, up from 10% in 1985. At that rate, 100% of Americans will be floating around in complete social isolation by the time Justin Bieber starts shaving. Those of us blessed with a touch of Asperger don’t mind the social isolation so much, but still. December is when everyone is feeling lonely anyway. You might as well reach out and be lonely together.

Get outside. The most effective therapy for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder is bright light therapy, where people sit in front of a clunky, plastic light box for an hour. Effective, but so boring that most people prescribed the treatment don’t do it. Consider this – the brightest of the bright light boxes puts out 10,000 lux. This is way more light than your typical living room lights (~50 lux), but half the lux of plain old daylight. And it’s nowhere close to the brightness of direct sunlight (~32,000-130,000 lux).  Find a way to get out into direct sunlight. The very best time to get outside is in the morning, but anytime is better than no time.

Turn off the TV and read books. Reading books increases the speed and precision of neural signals in your brain by forcing the oligodendrocytes that construct the white matter to build up more myelin along the axons being fired. If you didn’t understand that last sentence, it’s probably because you’re rotting your brain by sitting in front of the television. The easy version: reading every day = more brain. What’s great about December is that the literary nerdballs who read all of this year’s bad & great books  are now putting out their end of the year book lists. From NPR, the New York Times, and Slate.  Take your pick and read them. The very best episode of Scandal doesn’t come close.

Come to queerfit. Duh.

See you tomorrow morning at 10:00 at our usual spot. Bring your lonely friend! It’ll be bright and sunny.