Winter can be rough here in New England. Some days, the high temperature is 2 degrees. The ice and snow piles up. In a one-week span this month, we got over 40 inches of snow. The cold months this year have been so much better for me than last year’s winter, which was brutal. Realizing the stark contrast got me thinking, what makes the difference between an enjoyable winter and a miserable one? Since we can’t all hibernate like bears, are five tips for getting through the darkest months of the year. What are your own tips for making it through?
1. Find wonder in nature.
Snow is stunning when you take the time to look at it. The individual snowflakes, the way the powder sparkles in the sunlight after a storm, the cardinals flitting in the pine trees, the squirrels scurrying around. The way the light changes with the seasons…in the winter, it looks blue to me. Each season has its own beauty when you look for it. Even better if you can find a way to be active outside— building snowmen, sledding, snow-shoeing, skating, etc. One thing that made winter really interesting for me is learning more about what happens to flora and fauna during the coldest months. The book Winter World was a riveting introduction.
2. Dress warmly.
This sounds really obvious, but it makes a huge difference. I used to get tense during the winter every time I had to go outside. Then I smartened up and invested in a long, puffy coat, which when combined with some warm mittens, a wool scarf, and a hat that covers my ears. When you’re dressed appropriately, you can focus on the beauty around you and the people you’re with, rather than your cold self. Also key to dressing well are warm socks. Frozen feet are sure to ruin an otherwise good day. I also like to start my mornings with a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea to warm me up.
3. Keep busy and avoid binge-watching television.
Last winter at the worst of my bad days I was watching way too many murder mysteries on Netflix. I think I watched shows and knit scarves every night for all of January 2014, and boy was that a bad choice. The days all melded together into one depressing blob of a month. Keep busy and try new things. Cook some hearty winter stews in your crockpot. Spend some quality snuggle time with your loveable pets. Plan a fun adventure with your bestie or your sweetheart. Start a new project, a new journal, a new workout routine, a new book, etc. Whatever gets you excited to wake up in the morning.
4. Be good to yourself.
Dry skin, cold hands, poor circulation, lack of fresh produce and greenery. It’s easy to just give up during a cold snap. Instead, be really good to yourself. Do a face mask and then slather yourself with a luxe botanical body oil, take a hot bath, make a winter fruit salad of citrus, pear, and pomegranate seeds, take yourself to the gym for a fitness class, buy yourself some tulips, book a massage or a spa day. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, you’ll be more apt to spread the love to others in your life as well.
5. Cut yourself some slack.
If you’re doing all 4 things listed above or finding your own combination of winter pleasures, let the rest go. There’s no need to go to every social event if you want to stay home by the fireplace. No need to go to the gym every single day if you want to stay home and sip tea. As long as you’re taking care of yourself and your loved ones, sometimes that’s the best you can do, and that’s okay. If there’s ever a time not to overachieve, it’s definitely January and February. Everything is going to be fine. Breathe. Come spring you’ll be ready to go places.
I’ll be back next week with some pretty Valentines!