Here in the midwest, once the Holiday hustle starts to die down, the reality that three months (at minimum) of cold weather lie ahead is quite daunting. If you're like me, that makes you want to start calling it a night once the sun goes downs at 4pm. Practically every winter I find myself just pushing January-March and taking on this idea that I need to just survive. Although I probably won't start wearing an "I heart Winter" sweatshirt anytime soon, but this year I really wanted to focus on ways to make winter feel a little less like survival mode, and rather a time to thrive. Here are a few ways that I am going to be trying to embrace the cold, sloppy, beautiful, sometimes white, sometimes brown mess of the midwest winter this year.
Light a Candle
There is something so cozy about the little glow that candles bring. As soon as it gets dark, which is basically 4pm now, I light a few candles to bring a little life to the house. Josiah and I also enjoy turning all the lights off at night, lighting a few candles and snuggling up with some hot cider or tea.
Go for a winter hike
Who says hiking is only for summer? Hiking in the winter almost always guarantees the trails won't be overcrowded and you can see some places that you'd normally only visit in the summer, in a whole new way. Although you have to watch the temperatures because 15 degrees is probably way too to be trekking through the wilderness, if you're bundled appropriately 30 degree weather could be refreshing for a hike. If you aren't able to g somewhere that has a lot of nature, at least go outside for a little bit and take a walk around. The fresh air will make you feel better, promise!
Make afternoon coffee
Last year I was listening to a podcast where one of the guests was talking about her LOVE for winter. She shared that during the winter she makes herself an additional cup of coffee in the afternoon. It's something she would't normally do during the summer months, but it gives her something to look forward to during the colder months. I love this idea so much! I started to implement this idea the moment temperatures dipped below 30. I generally alternate between coffee and tea, depending on my caffeine needs that day.
Try out a new workout class
You all know my LOVE for Orange Theory, but what you probably don't know is that I love it so much because it helped me out of my winter funk last year. In an attempt to gain some workout motivation I tried out a class for free and immediately knew the structured schedule and coaches' encouragement was what I needed to thrive during a difficult time. If Orange Theory isn't totally your thing then maybe you could try a pilates or yoga class. Having that set time and being forced to leave the house (for all my fellow work at homers) is so, so helpful.
Explore a new coffee shop
This is pretty much an any-time-you-are-feeling-down remedy. Going out and trying a new coffee shop is one of my favorite things to do. Although finding a new coffee that I love is fun, it's always more about finding a new atmosphere that I love. Getting out of the house and into a coffee shop, even for a few minutes, is
Take time for that hobby
If you're like me, summer is the time to be outside. Literally every free moment that I have during the warm months, I spend outside walking, running, or just hanging out. So during that time, all of those indoor hobbies that I would love to pursue: painting, ceramic making, piano playing, knitting, etc. get pushed to the side. Winter is a great time to either pick those things back up or try out a new indoor hobby!
Take A Bubble Bath
I literally HATE feeling cold. In the winter I usually am bundled up in blankets, sweaters, and fuzzy socks and still occasionally will feel chilly. For times like this, or even if I just want a minute to relax, I'll take a bubble bath. When I was commuting to nursing school an hour away, during the winter months I would come home at 3pm some days and jump immediately into the bath. It gave me a minute to refresh my brain while simultaneously warming me up. If you can swing a bubble bath in the middle of the day, I high recommend, but if not, capping off the day with one works just as well.
Embrace the Slowness
This one is probably the hardest one for me to implement, but it's probably the most important. I'm a go-go-go person and the idea of slowing down sounds awful to me, but on another podcast I was listening too, the interviewee talked about the importance of recognizing that in the winter, things take longer and that the more we embrace that, the less frustrating it can be. My challenge to you (and myself), is to fully embrace the slowness of winter and enjoy the days ahead -- cold or warm-- and find space amidst a dreaded time a year to not just survive, but to thrive.