It was 55° here over the weekend but the low 30°s returned and there was another blizzard last night. I know that many folks struggle with the long, seemingly dull, winter.
Freezing temperatures and heaps of snow can’t be controlled. That’s the way it is. But there’s much in your environment you can change to infuse more joy into the winter months and ease the winter blues.
Here are 12 powerful ways to overcome the winter blues! A lot of it has to do with appealing to all five senses. Smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight. Some of it has to do with our need for camaraderie and erasing loneliness. And then there’s the mindset piece!
Are you intentional with your words and thoughts about winter? How often do you state, “I hate winter…” Or, “Winter seriously stinks!” It’s time to lay the malice to rest, replacing it with mindful observations about what’s to love in this season. What do you see today that’s beautiful? Take note. Seeking beauty in the chilly months will shift your mindset toward positivity away from anxiety over the next winter gale.
Hot beverages! They keep your hands warm and heat you from the inside out. Here are a few of my favorites: hot water with lemon, turmeric tonic, hot chocolate [I like to substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar], coffee, tea, warm cider. Stock ingredients so it’s easy to whip up a steamy beverage at home. I keep the tea kettle full of water on the stove and a tea pot on the counter. It’s nice to make 2 or three cups at a time in the tea pot and keep the pot on my desk for easy fill-ups. Carefully watch your sugar intake in winter beverages so you don’t make yourself feel worse.
Filling winter months with celebration and gratitude infuses your heart and home with joy. This is the time to cozy up with friends. Have you ever hosted a coloring and chocolate party? Gather a few friends for an evening of coloring. Set jars of colored pencils and bowls of chocolate on the table. Easy peasy, and it’ll give you and your friends something to look forward to. Need a coloring book suggestion? Here’s one I created with my friend Merritt. It’s filled with 11 pages for you to color and thoughtful prompts to help you journal through what you’re grateful for.
Wear a blanket! [I hear that’s all the rage this year too!] Somedays are dreadfully cold, even after turning up the heat a few degrees and layering your clothes. This is when blanket wearing comes in handy. I can’t tell you how many Skype meetings I’ve taken with a blanket draped over my lap or shoulders.
Still can’t warm up? Try a grain filled heat pack. Make your own with a rectangle of fabric [sew it into a pouch, fill with dried rice, sew end to close]. Heat it in the microwave for a minute or two. Set it under your feet or on your neck; be careful that it’s not too steamy when you place it on your skin.
Place candles around your home. Light them often. I love all-natural beeswax candles for the sweet honey scent they give off and the warm glow they scatter around. Have you ever tried full spectrum light bulbs? They often help lift blue winter moods.
Take stock of what you look at every day! Do you have enough bright colors around you? I love winter but there are rare moments when our faint blue walls and the backdrop of white snow and gray skies begin to blend together and get to me. This is when I know I need to add a few pops of color here and there. Try swapping out your artwork for something more stimulating and bright. Set a vase of colorful flowers on the table. Hang a few boldly colored yarn pom-poms or paper flowers in dim corners. Place cheery photos of friends and family on your walls with patterned washi tape.
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” – A. Wainwright
A thousand times yes to that statement! This is something I learned well when I went to college in the snowy Upper Peninsula. On those below zero days we’d wear our fur lined hats and snow pants in class. If you’re freezing, is it time for more layers? Some days call for two pairs of socks. A good pair of long underwear can keep you toasty warm. Throw a t-shirt over that tank top, then a sweatshirt, and a sweater on top of that if you need to. Let fashion fall to the wayside if your teeth are chattering. If you’re going outside, wear a hat, gloves or mittens [and not those cheap, paper thin, $1 ones], a warm coat, a scarf, and lined boots. These make all the difference.
Music! The sillier or stranger the better. Try something you haven’t listened to before and pop it on during chilly, blue moments. St. Lucia and Jorge Drexler have me dancing the moment I press ‘play’.
Since there’s no wishing it away until spring — embrace the snow! Snowshoe, ski, sled, bundle up and take a moonlight hike. Make snowman and snow angles. When you’re done playing outside, come on in for a warm batch of soft ginger cookies.
Slick roads often make it hard to gather and tend to leave us feeling like hermits. If an outing was canceled, are their neighbors you could get to know better during these long winter months? Invite them over for scones and coffee or an impromptu pizza dinner. Walking next door is easier than driving in a blizzard.
How can you nourish your heart and soul when you’re feeling blue? With cozy, warm meals. Sure, salad’s great but freezing days call for soups, stews, pasta bakes, warm crusty bread and melty butter, biscuits and gravy, curries, and burritos. Nothing warms you up like hovering over the stove as you stir risotto or a batch of chili.
Now summer on the other hand? I’ll need your help facing all the sunshine and heat.
This post isn’t meant to treat any type of medical condition. You should talk to your health care provider if you’re struggling with winter and other medical conditions.
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