What? How to enjoy winter? Are you kidding me? Nope.
I have always been a bona fide hater of winter. I spent a solid 7 years after high school in the south, where winters were anything but what I grew up with here in New York. But—what with COVID sucking the joy out of life lately, it's been super important to me to work hard at finding ways to enjoy time spent at home, and since I hate being cold (outside) anyway, I figured I'd do some deep-down soul searching to try to find ways to add some sparkle after the holidays are over.
Winters are long, cold, gray, and well… boring as hell, right? There's actually a medical term for people who suffer from seasonal winter depression, called SAD*, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Yes, it can affect people in spring and summer as well, but for me, it's always been winter that threw me into the dumps like a sack of moldy potatoes.
So aside from upping your Vitamin D intake (which, we should all be doing anyway, along with zinc, Vitamin C, and even elderberry – covid or not, to boost the immune system) and trying hard not to go overboard with the carb-loaded comfort foods for every meal… what can we do to try to enjoy winter after the holidays are over?
1. Slow Down & Recharge
Since hibernation isn't actually an option—given that you still have to work, clean, pay bills, eat, and likely have kids to take care of—dealing with the cold, the lack of sunlight, and even dealing with the pre-holiday rushing around can leave you feeling unmotivated and rather exhausted.
But taking a cue from Mother Nature, winter is still a time for rest. The plants enter a state of dormancy, bears and groundhogs hibernate, and while migration would be lovely, it's not feasible for most humans. So winter is the perfect time to rest up and recharge your internal batteries – mind, body, and soul. You know that once the spring weather hits, things will pick back up. Taking advantage of the slower winter months and getting cozy at home will work wonders for you later on. Learn how to “chill” and enjoy winter even though you hate it!
2. Keep Some Holiday Sparkle & Enjoy Winter Decor
Have you ever taken down all your holiday decorations and felt like things just got extra boring around the house? It's kind of amazing how our eyes get so used to that extra dose of sparkle and lights, and then feel a moment of mourning once they're down. But who says everything needs to come down?
So think about bringing in some nature at this point. Maybe some real tree branches (if you can find them) with a string of fairy lights in a vase, or small, lighted trees like the ones below? I really love this one, because they offer them up in different styles. Here's the one I bought for a Christmas present for myself (okay, my family gets to enjoy them as well).
3. Enjoy Things You Can't Do The Rest Of The Year
Listen, I'm definitely not a skier, sledder, skater, or someone who likes to even build snowmen. I've actually left that activity list up to my dad to do with my daughter. I'm the one in the kitchen prepping for when they need to come in from the cold! But think about it… who's out there baking cookies, eating the beef stew, or drinking cocoa in July? No one. So soak it up while you can, and enjoy that warm feeling from the inside, even if you never go out.
I will say this, though… getting out and about even in winter, and even when it's a little cold for my taste is something I'm planning on trying to do more of this year. If it's a sunny day (hello, natural Vitamin D), or maybe right after some fresh snow when it's not too windy out, I'm going to throw snowballs at my kid. And she's going to throw them at me. And we're going to get our aggressions out, our cabin fever cloud lifted, and laugh our butts off the whole time.
Then, we'll come inside and drink cocoa with extra marshmallows.
4. Learn Something New
There are loads of things you have probably always wanted to try but never took the time. Since you're slowing down and recharging and trying to learn how to actually enjoy winter, why not join a site and see what there is to learn? Check out bullet journaling as a new thing if you've not done it before. I love that Craftsy has these daily practice lessons in all kinds of things from hand lettering to embroidery to jewelry and painting, plus lots more. You can also get 60 days of Craftsy for free if you click here!
You could also reacquaint yourself with an old hobby you used to love, bonus points if you haven't done it since you were a kid, and double bonus points if your kid learns something new and loves it as much as you did! (FYI, my kid does love to make friendship bracelets, old-school style, and watch old Punky Brewster episodes.)
5. Out With The Old
So, yeah… about that panini maker your aunt gave you 3 years ago that you never took out of the box. Do you really need it taking up space? How about all those ratty sweatpants you've been living in lately? And not for nothing, but no one needs to hang onto Christmas scented gift sets just because they were a gift.
If it's new or like new, give it to someone or sell it on the Facebook marketplace. If it's old and janky, toss it. Clear out the clutter, do a deep clean of the walls, floors, and closets, and get a jump start on “spring cleaning” now, so you'll have less to do then. Plus, it feels really good to help lift the fog from your brain to declutter and get rid of stuff that's only taking up space. Don't believe me? Look at the popularity of people like Marie Kondo, Joshua Becker, and Gretchen Rubin right now!
6. Spread Joy To Others
Reconnect with friends and family with a simple text message to let them know you're thinking about them. Pay for the person in line behind you while you grab your morning cuppa. Build a silly snowman to make people giggle when they drive past. Keep those lights up outside (until it's warm enough to go out to take them down, anyway) and turn them on!
Or maybe you could use that new craft you learned to make “just because” gifts. How about baking a new recipe you learned and leaving it on the neighbor's doorstep? There are all sorts of ways to surprise people with something joyful. And you never know when your gesture could absolutely make someone's day. Especially if they're in need of a new way to enjoy winter, too!
7. Take a Digital Detox – For More Than A Few Hours
Yep, that's right. You know you've found yourself in a rabbit hole of clicks on more than one occasion. First, you were simply reading an article about covid vaccines, and before you knew it, you found yourself clicking that big “NEXT” button (the real one, not the fake one) on an 83-page “article” about all the things the cast of Gilligan's Island never wanted you to know. ADMIT IT.
Okay, so maybe it's only ever been me. Doubt it, though. Otherwise, they wouldn't keep producing ridiculousness like that.
But my point is this: Digital data consumption is toxic in large doses. I'd like to think we've all kind of mellowed out on that front a little, just due to the sheer exhaustion of the past two years, but truth is, I know better. And being stuck at home when there's nothing fun to do out anywhere can lead to exorbitant amounts of screen time.
Save yourself. Save the kids. Even a neverending game of Monopoly is better for you all. Find things to do that don't require you to be reading news that's meant to confuse or enrage you (and that goes for your cousin's daily Facebook posts) and nonsensical stuff that doesn't do much but kills time.
The Bottom Line – Enjoy Winter!
Winter doesn't have to suck. Make your home cozy and comfy. Find things you love to do. Spend time with family. Learn how to enjoy winter and all the comforts of home and coziness! Above all else, hang on for dear life if you have to because spring will be here in a few more months!
* A Final Note About SAD
So, you know I'm not a doctor, right? I only know what SAD is because I have it. But because I'm not here to give medical advice, I'm only going to tell you that if you're feeling depressed, or that something's not right, please talk to your doctor. Don't assume you can figure it out on your own, okay?