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Quality of Life: Embrace the gray days of March

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Quality of LifeAs far as I can tell, March has no redeeming qualities. Of course, it’s the month for basketball and spring break, but beyond that, there isn’t much to recommend – especially if you are in Indiana. Since I’m a native Hoosier, my familiarity with March in other locales is somewhat limited.

But we should take heart. By the time you read this, we will have been lucky enough to make it through the Ides, and that’s a major accomplishment. Now we just need to claw our way into April. There are no magic bullets to assist us on the downhill slide of the month, but I have compiled some random thoughts that might provide new perspectives on how to survive what always feels like the longest month of the year.

For starters, it is interesting to note that on average, there are only six clear days in central Indiana during the month of March. So, when you gaze at the sky and see something the color of mop water day after day, try to turn it into a positive. For one, you are a lawyer, so you are comfortable with gray. The gray area is your home. You learned long ago that nothing is black and white. Embrace the gray.

Then there’s the fashion angle. According to the website “SHEfinds: What to Wear and Where to Get It,” “gray is the new black” for bridesmaid dresses in 2013. If a wedding is in your future, just look to the sky for fashion inspiration. (Although, keep in mind that while “dove gray” may be a mainstay in the fashion industry, I don’t think that “mop gray” is looked upon favorably in those circles.)

If you prefer to hide from March and the dreariness it brings, try to do so by doing something other than work. Spending too much time at work actually decreases your productivity. While it might be tempting to stay at work on gray, rainy, sleet-drenched evenings, it would be much better for you to get out of the office and do something else. Studies have shown that people with “knowledge based” jobs have roughly six hours of productive time on the job every day. After six hours, your brain starts a slow fade and your productivity drops fairly dramatically. Rather than filling a chair and pushing yourself for an extra four hours, even risking mistakes that you wouldn’t have made earlier in the day, both you and your employer would be better off if you went home, went to work out or just left to do something else for a while. Research shows that eight-hour work days are the optimum for most jobs.

Good old-fashioned spring cleaning is another option to lift your spirits and kill time in March. Out with the old. De-clutter your surroundings. Get rid of your stuff. Give it away. Make room for something new to come into your life with the advent of spring. Clutter weighs people down, causing tiredness and lethargy. Ridding yourself of clutter, both at home and at work, can actually provide renewed energy.

Plan to get more sleep in March – particularly in the days surrounding the change to daylight saving time. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, there are increases in car accidents, work-place injuries and heart attacks in the days immediately following the spring forward to daylight saving time. Disturbed sleep patterns and lack of sleep are the prime culprits.

Try to do something you enjoy in the waning days of the month. March is an excellent time to plan your garden. Get some graph paper, gardening books, your hundreds of Pinterest articles and photos about gardens, and get to work. Selecting just the right flowers and vegetables for your garden can provide a bright spot in an otherwise dreary month – and the best part: you can watch all of your creative plans come to life as spring progresses.

Perhaps some of these suggestions will make the remaining days of March easier for you – and if not – there’s always basketball. I hope your brackets are holding up well.•

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Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at whatsnextcoaching@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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