I don’t like winter, but I like December. I really do. It’s festive and fun; twinkle lights twinkle everywhere and holiday anticipation fills the cold air. Where I live, December’s cold is new and novel. Sweaters feel good against skin that’s gone bare for too many months and the first snow is a miracle.
But then Christmas is over, the holidays are spent, the cold settles in, and spring remains two (or maybe 3?) months away. Suddenly, the cold isn’t new or novel–it’s oppressive. The dreary days have no twinkle light to brighten them.
The Christmas lights are will be up in my neighborhood for another week (if I’m lucky), and I’m still anticipating a festive New Years celebration. But I’m well aware that Winter In Earnest is coming. I may not love winter, but I’ve learned to cope with the season. Here’s how I’m getting myself ready for coping with my least favorite season.
(‘m not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. But these tips have helped me a lot.)
1. Bring the sunshine in. I love my daylight, and I miss it this time of year. Despite knowing this about myself, I waited way too long to buy a light therapy box because I didn’t think I technically suffered from seasonal affective disorder. When I finally decided to get one anyway, I called it one of the smartest things I did that year.
I use my Happy Light every morning, but I recently got to try a more normal-looking (read: attractive) reading lamp from Verilux, the same company that makes the Happy Light. I positioned this pretty natural-spectrum lamp right by my favorite spot on the sofa, and I’ve been clicking it on every time I sit down. My body craves the natural-seeming light, and it casts a pretty glow about the room. My mind may know it’s wintertime, but my body is still happier if it gets some good quality light throughout the day. I think these lamps help me on that score.
2. Get some fresh air. I try to bring the sunshine in with my lamps, but I get outside everyday too, if even for a few minutes. I feel so much better when I breathe in fresh air and get myself outdoors into the actual sunshine, no matter how much it seems to be masked by the winter clouds.
3. Get some exercise. My doctor tells me we all tend to move less in the wintertime. This may be a natural inclination, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. I make sure that every day I lift some weights, get on the treadmill or rower, do a yoga video. I just know I’m happier–and sleep so much better–when I get some exercise.
4. Get some sleep. Keep in mind that your body may require more shut-eye in the winter months. (Mine does.)
5. Take your vitamins. Vitamins are a recent addition to my winter regimen, because I used to think my healthy diet took care of my nutritional needs. But now to make sure I’m doing everything I can to set myself up for a successful winter, I’m taking a multivitamin, a B-complex, fish oil, and Vitamin D daily.
6. Embrace the cozy. I can’t deny that winter isn’t my favorite season. I desperately miss sunshine and warmth during these months. But winter does have its charms, and I’m doing my best to embrace them. I’m enjoying comfort food (stews and braises are my favorites). I’m lighting the fire, and scented candles, or both. I’m curling up on the couch with a quilt and a good book.
Winter and I may not be on the best of terms, but I can manage till spring if I follow my own advice.
How do you feel about the winter months? What tips can you share for enjoying (or surviving) the season?