Winter can be a difficult time for many people and this affects our mood and our physical health. There are ways to improve our circumstances through the dormant time of year. Here’s some ideas I’ve put together for you. I hope they inspire and lift your spirits.
First rule. Work on the things you can control and put aside the things you can’t.
Feel healthy and glowing
It gets dark early. It will rain and be cloudy a lot in winter. Nothing new here. I have read and listened to lots of news saying Oh no! Winter is Coming! Dread, gloom, depression, Christmas is cancelled! Well that’s not very helpful for starters. The mornings are lighter for now so how about getting up earlier and going for a brisk walk? However often you can mange. Dress accordingly. Maybe it’s time to order some funky wellies, waterproof jacket and a jaunty hat? It’s only weather. Vitamin D3 is essential which, in part, comes from exposure to the sun. Stock up on supplements. They’re cheap and abundant and as well as keeping your cardiovascular system and bones strong, vitamin D3 supports your mental health and keeps away depression.
I saw a chap walking into a new tanning studio on my local high street and thought what a good idea that is. Be careful with your skin of course. How about getting a few sessions for a light tan during these winter months? I’m more of a fake tan girl and right now I’m checking out the options for a light, natural tan.
Many of us have put on a few pounds during COVID for many reasons and winter hibernating does that too. Don’t beat yourself up about it. WHEN you are ready maybe look to the winter season to eat more healthily and go out for those brisk walks. “It gets dark early!” I hear you cry. Yes, yes it does. Heard of a torch? Meet up with a friend or two. This meets an important need for friendship. I’m seeing a few walk/talk groups starting up which is brilliant. Can you join one for the company and safety in numbers?
Remote working in winter
A few things to consider. Watch out for your heating and electric bills. We’re used to spending ten hours away from home so the bills will rack up. Be prepared. You could try Utility Warehouse or at least shop around and see if you can shave of some pennies with a new supplier. Turn off those lights and keep the temperature at an even level. Layer up. Summer was the time for working in your jockeys. Time for big socks, jumpers and joggers and if it’s really cold in your home, fingerless gloves and a beanie hat won’t go a miss.
Watch out for feelings of isolation. Keep communicating with friends and family. Remember pens and paper? Focusing outwards is always a great mental health tip. How happy will your loved ones feel receiving a card or a letter in the post? There’s the phone as well. It doesn’t always have to be face time. Ensuring you have no distractions and ample time means you can have a meaningful and loving chat on the phone. I have two calls planned for later – can’t wait.
Combat the dark with light
There are some gorgeous wake up alarm clocks with sunrise settings and natural sounds and Phillips’ brands seem to be pretty good. Mine has been resting in the wardrobe for two years. This season I’m definitely going to use it. They’re really soothing and clever at making you feel rested and happy in the morning.
Candles in the evenings make the room feel super cosy with a natural glow. Enclosing them in glass containers makes an even softer light and keeps you safe too. Time to stock up.
Inside/outside jobs at home
You may well have done all the jobs during the first lockdown. There still could be more to do so get up and get moving. Keeping busy fights off boredom, loneliness, anxiety and depression. I’ve heard a few people saying that they feel they wasted the time they had at home during the lockdown and wished they’d cleared out the garage, done that course, painted the spare room. No time like the present. Have a plan for these months in winter to freshen up and de-clutter. Add to your skillset and take that course. Maybe learn a language or musical instrument?
This year will be different for many of us. We can make Christmas an enjoyable and stress-free experience by accepting that we may not be able to have fourteen round the table and travel far and wide to see friends and relatives. It is just for this year (we hope) and it’s the way it needs to be so what can we do to make it work?
Bake, bake, bake. Yellow piccalilli, delicious chutneys and jams. Fill the freezer with homemade pies and tasty treats. Spend time deciding on what you will eat over the festive period and how you will decorate your house. Your kids don’t want to hear moans and groans and see miserable faces. Make plans for how to celebrate Christmas knowing that it will be different. Think of others instead of expensive gifts. Make a plan of the people you need to call regularly over the festive holidays. Can you do some voluntary work locally? How can you contribute to the feeding kids over the school holidays Programme? Could you make soup or sandwiches?
Make a gratitude list
The other day I had some really tough clients, the sixth cancellation of a meetup or postponement of a client visit, a sad talk with my Mum in a care home and then I put on the news. That nearly sent me diving for my duvet for a week. The news is pretty rotten at the moment and watching too much of it may not be the best course of action. I, for one, am going to limit my exposure to negative media coverage.
Every day, or once a week, I look at the things that have gone well and I make a note of them in my bullet journal (search Ryder Carroll). It’s surprising how many things I can put on my list that make me smile. Here are a few for this week:
My cat going potty, tearing from room to room for no apparent reason.
My 6’6” son almost suffocating me with one of his hugs on the sofa
A week of rainbows and glorious sunsets
The sound of rain on the conservatory roof
A big thank you from a satisfied client
My Mum telling me how much she loves me
Some hilarious comedy that had tears running down my face.
Get ready. Be happy
Stock up with your favourite music and films/TV shows. Sort though your photo albums and maybe print off a load of photos from your phone and make new ones. Take a trip to Hobbie Craft and make your own Christmas cards or buy a puzzle, airfix model or craft project. Download an audio book you’ve always wanted to listen to (I’m enjoying ten hours of Jamaica Inn narrated by Tony Britton).
We have winter every year. This year we have COVID. It is serious and scary but we can all make the most of what we’ve got and do our best to enjoy the next few months, even when we get bad news and things are not going well. Wishing you a safe, happy and fulfilling winter, Sally x