Yesterday was the first day of Advent.
To me, it also felt like the day that winter began in earnest. Thanksgiving Day was gorgeous: we were outside wearing just t-shirts, the kids threw the football in the yard, they crunched through the still-falling leaves. November can be like that.
But December rarely is. Now we’re on a straight downhill plunge towards the solstice. The light is fading fast.
That’s not all bad. Much like the Norwegians who embrace their long winters, I look forward to the things I can only do during the colder months. I don’t complain about the weather (much): I genuinely enjoy bringing out the blankets, burning the candles, drinking tea at 2:00 in the afternoon. I wasn’t sad to trade in tank tops for turtlenecks, or strappy sandals for boots.
But looking on the bright side only gets me so far. I still miss my daylight, and by that I mean my brain misses it, and my body yearns for it. For me, making it through the winter season requires not just a change of mindset, but an arsenal of coping strategies.
I’m taking care of myself. When it’s cold it’s easy for me to slack on the things I need to feel good, no matter the season. I’m reminding myself to take my vitamins and get some exercise every day.
I’m using my therapy light in the early mornings, even though I don’t yet feel like I desperately need it. (I’ve learned that’s the best time to start.)
I’m putting my feet in the park every day (unless it’s icy—I don’t do ice). Last year I resolved to go to the park every single day, even if it was well below freezing, and the regular dose of fresh air and daylight did wonders for my mood and mindset.
And of course, I’m sincerely enjoying the upsides to the season. We’re building fires and reading books on the sofa, snuggled under fuzzy blankets. We’re toasting up batches and batches of wintry spiced nuts. We’re stirring up hot chocolate and mulled wine.
I’m never going to be a winter enthusiast (unless I move to some magical place where winter is three weeks long). But I’m making peace with the dark. Or at least, I’m trying.
P.S. Last year’s accidental Advent meditation.