Oh, winter. You are a harsh mistress.
It’s no wonder people have a rough go of it in winter time. The days are shorter, everything is hibernating, & in many parts of the world it is cold beyond cold. Here in Ottawa, for example, we’re sitting at 1 degree (Celsius) today, but tomorrow it’s supposed to drop to -27! (That’s about -17 in Fahrenheit!)
I don’t enjoy winter one little bit. I’m not a skiier, so I’m not overjoyed when it snows. In fact, I make it a point to not do any sports in which my feet slide independently of each other! I do snowshoe, but only when the weather is lovely, so I don’t go out very often.
Over the last few years, I’ve really worked on how to make my winters suck less. I also battle depression in a pretty major way this time of year, so anything I can do to make my life a little easier, I do.
Here are the top ten survival tips I’ve found work for me!
My friend Lauren recommended I start taking Vitamin D a few years ago, & when she tells me to do something healthy, you’d better believe I do it! I started with a low dose, but it wasn’t doing anything, so I started researching how much I could actually take. There’s a bunch of conflicting information out there, & remember that I’m not a health-care practitioner, but right now I’m up to 4,000 IUs of the stuff, which according to Wikipedia is the upper intake level. That’s how much it took for me to feel like it was doing something for me. & the thing it does for me is make me not want to sleep 80% of the time, as I do when I’m not taking it!
Apparently my body wants to hibernate. I’m like a house bear.
My favourite kind is Nature’s Answer Vitamin D-3 drops – the vitamins are suspended in extra-virgin olive oil, which is great since Vitamin D is fat-soluble. This way, I don’t have to worry about what I’m taking it with to make sure it’s properly absorbed in my body. (Vitamin D also assists in calcium absorption, so if you take a calcium supplement, it’s a good idea to take it with your Vitamin D.)
Dinner parties, board game nights, clothing swaps, crafternoons – the list goes on & on! Spend time with people you love, whiling away the winter with pleasurable activities. Institute a “no-cell-phones” rule. Talk to each other in the face. Greet & say goodbye to each other with the warmest hugs imaginable. Serve comfort food.
Remember, your friends are probably having as tough a time with winter as you are! If you band together, it will be easier for all of you. After the holiday season, especially, it’s great to have things to look forward to, especially since the next long weekend isn’t until Easter.
It’s no secret that I love bubble baths. Getting into the tub with a tiara perched on my head, a good book, masses of tealights burning, & a piccolo of champagne with a straw has got to be one of my favourite things to do.
There are thousands of bubble baths on the market, but some of my favourites come from Lush, philosophy, & Cake Beauty. (Keep in mind, I love things that smell like sweet foods!) At the moment I’m loving Lush’s Candy Mountain bubble bar & Godmother Soap, followed by a dusting of Cake Beauty’s Satin Sugar Refreshing Hair & Body Powder, & a sweet slathering of philosophy Coconut Macaroon body butter. Don’t forget that hot water can be drying to sensitive winter skin, so be sure to use an extra-rich moisturizer when the temperatures drop!
I have inspiration boards & quotes around my creative space all year ‘round, but I really rely on them in the winter. Find some quotes which have meaning to you, pull out some photos from magazines or download them from Flickr, & give yourself the gift of a beautiful thing to look at whenever you need a lift. Plants are also great for this. I don’t have a lot of luck with them, but Jesse gave me an orchid for Christmas & I’m going to keep it alive no matter what!
It’s so tempting to swathe yourself in black & grey this time of the year, but if you give yourself a little colour boost with your clothes, you’ll be amazed at what it does for you mood. Who says you can only wear your summer dresses in summer? Try them with tights or leggings, boots, a blazer & a scarf to make your winter days brighter.
Try colours that you wouldn’t normally. I recently bought a fluorescent yellow sweater which I would never normally have picked up, but with other neutral colours it brightens up my life in a very appealing way.
Get yourself to the gym when it’s blustery outside. It’s hard, I know, you just want to be on the couch with a movie, but a little bit of exercise is not only going to get your blood pumping & keep you warm, it will also elevate your mood. I always thought that was kind of pretend, but it really does work! Basically, when you exercise, your body releases all kinds of good chemicals like endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin & dopamine. Those chemicals will all work together to make you feel amazing. Also, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment from doing something that’s good for you, which will also make you feel great.
Give it a try! What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll get healthier?
Build a fort
The opposite of going to the gym, of course, is staying in & staying cozy. An amazing way to do this? Build a fort/indoor tent.
I have a planned date night coming up with Jesse, & we’re going to build a fort in my office with the TV at one end, masses of pillows & blankets, cozy pyjamas, popcorn & silly movies. I can’t wait!
Before you ask, yes, this one was inspired by the episode of Community where Troy & Abed make a fort city in the dorms…
Make time for yourself
Every Monday is me day. Non-negotiable. I go for a manicure with my ladies (Mercury Lounge, Manicure Mondays, $10 manicure! E-mail Thetis to book! Drop my name!), eat a nice meal by myself, & do all those little grooming things which make me feel good like trimming my bangs & taking long baths. I wander around the market taking pictures, pick myself up little treats if I’m so inclined, & basically do whatever it is that I want to do. I can’t tell you how important this time is for my mental health! I missed my me day last week (it was Boxing Day & I had family with me), & I felt like I was going crazy towards the end of last week!
What do you want to do with your time? Figure out the things that make you happy, & schedule time to do them just for you. Don’t feel that you have to take a whole day, either – even just a half an hour can be incredibly restorative.
Buy yourself flowers
I like them to match my hair, but you should find whichever ones make your heart sing! The point is to give yourself a little bit of colour & life into your home to beat the winter drearies.
Make comfort food
I love comfort food. Shepherd’s pie, rich soups, pasta dishes… Because I’m vegan, I find a lot of recipes on The Post Punk Kitchen & Oh She Glows, but make the foods that stick to your ribs & remind you most of home.
Remember, darling, winter doesn’t last forever! It doesn’t have to be horrible! Do little things that will make you feel good, & the big things will take care of themselves.