Bring it on, Winter! How to Fight off Seasonal Scaries
By: Adrienne Lotto
Not to get all dramatic on you, but winter is coming. Sure, winter comes every year, but with the normal months of darkness and coldness compounded by a global pandemic that requires us to stay apart, this winter threatens to be scarier than ever. The riskiness of large family gatherings, holiday parties, and indoor dining mean that many typical seasonal activities that make winter fun are likely off the table. Yes, winter may look a little different this year…but that doesn’t mean it has to be worse! With a bit of mindfulness and planning, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your inner peace this winter. Here are a few ideas to bring light into your life.
Bring winter-friendly plants into your home.
From holly and ivy to Christmas trees, people have been bringing the greenery of the winter forest into their homes for centuries. Long before anyone even knew about the proven scientific benefits of having plants in the home (reduced stress levels, increased productivity), people saw greenery as a symbol for the hope and of spring. You can go beyond evergreens and find any number of beautiful plants that flower indoors during the winter. The bright colors of Christmas cactus, African violet, and jasmine, to name just a few, are sure to break up the gray barrenness of winter and boost your mood.
Make a winter recipe bucket list.
Remember the early days of the pandemic when grocery store shelves were emptied of yeast and it seemed like everyone you knew had a sourdough starter going? Understandably, the novelty wore off after a few months—who wants to spend summer in a hot kitchen? Welcome winter as a time to get back to having some fun in the kitchen! I’m looking forward to making huge pots of soups and stews, baking loaves of rustic bread, and making holiday cookies that fill the house with the smell of cinnamon and spices.
Get into writing letters.
Many people bust out the cards and stationery just once a year for the holidays, if at all, but regularly writing letters “just because” is infinitely more rewarding. We’re all going to need ways to connect with each other this winter, and Zoom fatigue is real. By its nature, letter-writing offers not just connection, but time for self-reflection. And because our mailboxes are usually full of bills and junk, there’s a fun nostalgia to getting a real letter. Think about surprising a friend with one this winter! Maybe you’ll establish a real back-and-forth correspondence.
Compile your own personal movie watchlist.
While we might feel guilty chilling indoors with a movie in the warmer months, no one can deny the pleasure of curling up on the couch on a cold day. To give yourself some intentionality and avoid going overboard on screen time, make movie-watching into a project! Maybe you, like me, have somehow managed never to have seen Titanic. I’ve been meaning to expand my movie repertoire when it comes to classics, but the movies on your list can be whatever you want! Maybe you’d like to do a Harry Potter marathon, or explore all the movies of the Coen brothers, or watch everything Mary Kate and Ashley ever made (I may or may not have done this multiple times before).
Read poetry about winter.
A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend posted this Robert Frost poem about late fall, After Apple-Picking. As I read it, I began to feel a warm appreciation for the season we were in, and a wistful anticipation of the cold months ahead. I really believe that reading, especially poetry, has the power to change our outlook on life. So, if you’re feeling apprehensive about the coming season, try reading some odes to winter. Really romanticize it for yourself. And if you get inspired, write some poetry of your own!
Get a SAD lamp.
The aptly acronym’d seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that rears its ugly head during the late fall and winter months, when the days are shortest and sunlight is briefest. SAD lamps or light therapy boxes, which mimic outdoor light, can offer your brain some chemical relief from the winter blues. Make sure you choose a model that offers exposure to 10,000 lux and that doesn’t emit too much UV light, which can damage your eyes. There are, quite literally, dark months ahead, but you don’t have to let them shut you down!
Lean into coziness.
Each year, proximity to the Arctic Circle plunges Scandinavians into months of very little daylight. How do they make it through these long months? Basically, they embrace the darkness with a mindset called “hygge.” Hygge is a contentedness you can conjure by engaging in self-care and acceptance of your present state. It’s about getting comfy— putting on a warm pair of socks, sitting by a fire, drinking a cup of hot cocoa…you get the point. It’s essentially an extension of mindfulness, and you know we’re all about that here at LesserEvil! So, channel your inner Scandinavian and get hygge with it! Then, when you’re ready for a change of pace…
Embrace the cold!
Spending time outdoors has been a saving grace for many since the beginning of the pandemic, when going on a walk was one of the only assuredly safe activities to get us out of the house. Don’t let cold weather keep you from doing this—bundle up and get outdoors! And I’m not thinking exclusively of winter sports. I think we should get ready to embrace outdoor leisure time as well. Socially distanced outdoor event and dining situations brought some joy and normalcy to this past summer, and many restaurants are looking into creative ways, from bonfires to blankets, to keep people coming safely through the winter. Personally, I am totally down to give up some comfort to be able to hang out in the occasional beer garden. Let’s layer up and make this work!
There’s no getting around it — this winter will be a challenging one. We can’t change what the world throws at us, but if we focus on the things within our control, we can all find some peace.