And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
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It is usually this time of the year – in the gray of mid January – when the winter blues begin to chip away at the happy resolve we so bravely donned throughout the holidays. We were too busy to notice as the days grew shorter, our lives filled with the bustle of holiday planning, stringing lights along gutters, and questing for the perfect gifts for our loved ones.
We kid ourselves:
Oh, it’s not that cold.
All the snow makes everything seem brighter!
At least we’re not in Baker Lake!
That will do the trick for a while and the post-holiday euphoria lingers on for a few days, usually with a little dip during that tired, bloated limbo that occurs after Christmas but before New Year’s Eve when no one seems to know what day of the week it is. We perk up again around the 1st or 2nd (depending on how aggressively we rang in the New Year, we may need a whole day of recovery!)
We enter the New Year with high hopes and expectations. We join gyms, purchase stationary bikes, do cleanses and detoxes. And maybe we do this for a few days, or a week or so and we’re feeling like I got this! and it seems like that momentum is going strong. But then by mid January we just… stop.
We start feeling winter.
The snow has melted because of that freakish warm spell, but it’s cold again and everything is brown. And it dawns on us that we could easily have four more months of this.
So what do we do?
Well, we have some options here. We can be depressed about the weather, or we can embrace the reality of our climate and find ways to make the best of winter. One of my favorite ways is to be cozy and to enjoy all the aspects of truly hunkering down. Below are some of my tried and true ways of bringing more cozy, enjoyment, and beauty into my life when the weather outside is dreary. And I encourage you to snuggle in and find some new ways to enjoy this season!
According to the dictionary the definition of cozy:
- Giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
- A soft covering to keep a teapot, boiled egg, etc., hot.
- Give someone a feeling of comfort or complacency.
These are all the things that we can incorporate into our lives (including tea cozies – oh my! especially tea cozies!) One way to give a feeling of warmth and comfort is to create our own light and movement of light in our homes. Light candles – especially during those late afternoon hours just when dusk is thinking of settling in. For us in the Midwest, it’s around that 4’o clock hour that often seems the worst – even babies always seem to get colicky around 4 o’clock. If you are blessed with a fireplace, keep it crackling and glowing. If your fireplace is the kind you plug in or on a screen – that works, too! Some music in the background works well – whatever makes you feel happy and uplifted.
Make a pot of tea and curl up with a favorite book (and yes, use that tea cozy!) A blend of chamomile and lavender can be relaxing and fragrant. If you don’t have your own wild crafted petals on hand, I have had good luck with Traditional Medicinals Organic Chamomile with Lavender Herbal Tea and enjoy their products. Lemon Balm can be refreshing, calming, and mood enhancing. I have a large patch growing in my yard and I make sure to pick and dry enough to get me through the winter months. Another of my favorites is a tea made from linden flowers. When I make a cup and inhale the floral steam, the fragrance reminds me of summer and when I close my eyes, I can almost imagine myself lying in a hammock under a blooming linden tree in mid June.
To give the feeling of comfort to yourself as well as others, cooking is a wonderful way to fill the house with warmth and comforting aromas. Don’t know how to cook? (Get ready for a shameless plug!) Sign up for one of my Grocery Store Tour or Cooking Workshops. Soups are wonderful to make this time of year as well. The Italians have an expression: La Zuppa fa sette cose, which in English translates to, “Soup does seven things.” It is said to; quench your thirst, satisfy your hunger, fill your stomach, aid in your digestion, make your teeth sparkle, color your cheeks, and help you sleep. I would like to add one more to that list: soup warms you up! I love to browse through cookbooks for recipes. Get a big pot of something simmering on the stove and you’ve got lunch covered.
Pictured is a bowl of roasted tomato soup with some fresh snap peas for a little crunch. I love to add a scoop of Forbidden Rice to make it a little heartier. A spoonful of nutritional yeast rounds out this warm and satisfying lunch.
My last recommendation to beat the winter blues is to have some Forest Therapy – spend some time outdoors – especially in nature. The Swedish are fond to say: Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dålig klädsel. Which translates to: there is no bad weather only bad clothing.
So get outside and go for a walk or take up a winter sport. Put on snow pants and a ski mask if you have to. The fresh air and nature will do you a world of good. Even a short 10 or 15 minute walk on a gray day will give you exposure to sunlight and we know how important sunlight is to our vitamin D production. One of the most comprehensive studies on the benefits of spending time in nature was released from the researchers from the University of East Anglia. Additionally, there are countless studies that have show that being in nature can help boost your mood.
How you do find ways to embrace the season and stay cozy?