How to Keep Your Spirits Up This Winter
I know, I know. It’s winter. We know it is coming every year but this year seems especially challenging given that we have spent more time indoors and/or isolated in 2020 than in years past. This winter season began like most, when I first felt the cold snap brush my cheeks and a fall sweatshirts were no longer enough to keep me warm, I felt myself tightening up against the brisk wind and the meteorolgist’s predictions of snow.
“Ugh, not again!” I thought.
With all the difficulty of the past year, I did not want to face another challenge that felt like it was taking away my only respite from the craziness of the world around me; the amazing nature I surrounded myself with.
“Okay,” I sighed, “how the heck am I going to get through THIS?”
The question that came to me was nothing short of a miracle, although it seems obvious and mundane.
“What if I could learn to love this next season? What if I could accept THIS inevitability just like I have had to practice accepting so much I never thought I would through this year?”
And so it goes, I declared that I was going to make myself LOVE winter! Not just grit my teeth and tolerate it, but truly, truly love it. I remembered a wise person once told me that you can’t love what you don’t know. I realized I had spent the last two decades bracing for and hiding from winter’s inevitable cold embrace. So, I decided to get intimately connected and in tune with winter. I’m telling you, it has made the BIGGEST difference in my welcoming energy of this previously brutal season.
If you are the kind of person that loathes winter, but are choosing to live in an area swaddled in freezing tundra, read on to find out how you can harness your inner Elsa (yes, that is a Frozen reference) and fall in love with winter.
Reinvent Your Relationship with Winter
You need to change the way you think about winter. When we change our thoughts and behavior, it changes how we feel. Positive thoughts and feelings lead to more positive actions and positive energy. I don’t know about you, but winter is usually the time of year I feel most anxious, as well as the most down, so I need all the positive vibes I can get.
Begin by affirming your commitment to getting to know what winter has to offer you and what you can enjoy about this season. Next, write down all your favorite winter memories to see that you really DO have good times in winter. Then, imagine how you want to greet winter everyday. Whether there is a mountain of snow to shovel, ice to pick, or eyelash freezing cold to endure, can you greet each of these adversities with curiosity and joy. Can you see the benefit and blessing in being able to move your body to shovel the whole driveway, or playing with your kids in a snow ball fight, or going for a nature walk in snowshoes? Additionally, the cold has a way of reminding us to stay close to the ones we love and trust. We are warmer when we huddle together. Thus, let the frosty temperatures bring you feelings of connection and affection.
Winter is a wellspring of brewing creative ideas before we release them into the universe with the budding leaves of springtime. Winter is a great time to try something new. Ask yourself, what have I always wanted to try in the winter season but never have? Alternatively, what have I given myself an excuse to NOT DO in the winter. Does that still work for you? Do you need to shift that?
Winter is usually a time we lock ourselves in our homes as quickly as possible to avoid the frigid bite of the cold for fear that any hesitation would cause us to turn into an icicle. However, have you ever spent a moment outside after a snow storm, or when those beautiful, thick flakes are unhurriedly falling from the sky? The silence is deafening. It is the most glorious non-sound there is! If you can give yourself a moment to pause, breathe in the wintery fresh air, and feel the refreshing freeze nibbling your cheeks and nose, you can take in a moment of quiet bliss.
That is just one incredible gift of winter, complete outdoor calm. I have come to see winter as a stunning spectacle of glowing beauty. If you are lucky to see a sunrise or sunset in the winter, the experience is magical. The snow capping the trees after a blizzard, the gentle drip of ice melting in the warm winter sun, or the crunch of ice breaking as you shatter the layer of frost that lay atop a mound of fresh white powder. One of my favorite things is being the first to step on freshly fallen snow. I am not sure why. I do encourage you to find something as simple as this to make you smile.
An improbable man of few words recently said to me, “there is no bad weather, only bad outfits.” Meaning, that if we dress well for it, the winter weather should not stop us from being outdoors. Layer up, invest in some good boots and gloves, and buy some snow pants! Yes, you will look like Ralphie’s little brother from The Christmas Story, and you may not be able to get up if you fall, but hey, you will be warm! Also, I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the World War III mission you encounter when you are trying to get children ready to go outside! Mama, I get it, it is hard AF to wrangle slippery monkeys who, either turn their voice up full volume, or forget that their limbs work. So, take a deep breath, remind yourself of your commitment to loving winter, give plenty of time to get ready…..and, yes I will say it, bribe them with M&Ms!
I have talked about getting in plenty of activity so far, so I want to balance that out with syncing our energy with the season we are in. One of the top complaints I have heard about winter, and said myself, is that the days are so short! It is challenging getting up with the dark and coming home/getting done with work with the dark. Our vitamin D gets depleted and this is usually why we start to feel not only restless, but also depressed. Physically spending more time in the dark can mirror the spiritual or emotional shadow we often encounter in the winter as well. Winter can be a time whereby we prepare for spring renewal. It can be a time where we purposefully choose to look at habits and patterns we repeat, often unconsciously, that no longer serve us. Alternatively, it can be a wonderful time to go deep into your think tank of ideas and pull out an innovative project that you want to make come to life. Lastly, you may be doing some soul searching and life-purpose understanding that you need more time and space to fully embrace and/or let go.
The winter season can be a time of consciously understanding yourself by doing a deep dive inward. Journaling, art, a weekly soul chat with another person you connect with, yoga, and meditation are all effective ways to peek inside yourself and make conscious and compassionate connections within.
This one always feels fun! Eating seasonally is not only a positive way to explore food and nourish yourself well, it is also a way to support the environment by acquiring local food. You may even choose to grow your own, indoors! It can be a family adventure to try a new seasonal food weekly or make a dinner with everyone that includes local and seasonal ingredients. For a great starter guide to what is in season now, click here!
Develop a Winter Tradition
We often have holiday traditions, but less often do we have seasonal ones. Winter is loaded with tradition possibilities and you can use your own creativity to invent the most unique custom. Traditions give us something to look forward to each year, and winter REALLY needs a little help in that department since we tend to disown it before it even comes around. You can have a ritual just for yourself or one for your family. A few ideas are; decorate your home with winter decor, celebrate the winter solstice, full moon and new moon ceremonies, polar plunge, visit a new state park or trail, or create your own winter holiday!
If you have any ideas, please write them in the comments below!!
I wish you a beautiful and loving winter season!