All my life I’ve had winter dread.
It begins around November, when the days get shorter and the temperatures start to drop. By the time the sun sets at 4pm, I’ve lost all semblance of self—forgetting to leave the house or break out my SAD lamp for synthetic drops of vitamin D.
I’ve repeated this winter blues routine year after year—letting a whole quarter of my year slip past me until the flowers bloom around April or May. It may not be ideal, but I’ve never been able to figure winter out and prevent myself from the hibernation-depression pattern.
Except this year? It’s different.
Although it still may be early winter, I’ve created my own winter-thriving ritual that’s already transforming my relationship with the season. Read on below to learn how I’ve shifted the winter blues into winter do’s for a healthy and happier self.
A Day In My (Winter) Life as a PD Editor
Intention One: Ritualize
My winter days start and end in ritual. I begin my mornings early with a pre-set morning routine: fifteen minutes of meditative reading, a frothy latte, and making my bed.
While no two summer mornings look quite alike for me, winter consistency is the key to combating those cold, dark mornings when my only desire is to stay in my cozy bed and sleep. I now find myself looking forward to waking up before the sun—associating that time with slowness, a bit of sweetness, and a time of meditative reflection.
Intention Two: Savor
If summer is the season for grab-and-go meals, then winter is my time to savor. At the beginning of winter, I carefully curate a list of new recipes that I’m excited to try, and then spend the next several months working through that list one at a time for a season of feasting.
During my lunch breaks, rather than rushing from chore-to-chore, I take my time in the winter to make meals I know I’ll love and meditate on the cooking process.
For inspiration, I like to commit to one cookbook each winter and work my way through all the recipes I’ve been dying to try. Not only does it make me feel a bit like Julie & Julia, but it also expands my cooking beyond my comfort zone to add new recipes into my repository.
Intention Three: Curate Winter Hobbies
The main reason I hated winter for the majority of my life was because I felt like there was nothing to do as all my normal hobbies—running, hiking, traveling, and exploring local farmers markets—ground to a stop. The days seemed short and I would turn to Netflix and TV in the evenings out of boredom and a lack of creativity.
This year, however, I’ve changed my winter tune. Instead of seeing winter as the end to my normal hobbies, I’ve re-framed my mindset to see winter as an opportunity to shift to hobbies I only do in winter instead. The only part is crucial, as it transforms winter into a sacred time where I get to practice hobbies I wouldn’t do any other time of the year, in the same way summer makes me excited for summer hobbies such as kayaking and hiking.
To most enjoy winter, it’s important to curate hobbies both inside and outside. Ice skating and skiing get me out in nature, and puzzles and hand lettering give me something to do on those cold winter evenings.
Intention Four: Plan
Rather than seeing winter as wasted time, I’m transforming my relationship with winter by seeing it as a time of preparation. Both this year and last, I’ve used winter as my time to plan my summer travels and trips for the remainder of the year. As an avid traveler, I spend my evenings researching and meticulously curating my trips, giving myself something to look forward to as the seasons turn to warmer weather.
If travel isn’t your thing, then use those slower evenings to plan for other goals or intentions. Plan your yearly finances, your fitness goals, family activities, or even a party with friends.
Intention Five: Invest
Quite possibly my biggest transformation for winter was investing in the tools needed to do winter well. By purchasing high-quality boots and warm winter clothes, I no longer mind going outside in the winter as I have the gear I need to keep me warm and dry..
If you have seasonal depression, invest in a SAD lamp. Buy those ice skates. Invest in yourself to set winter up for success.
Intention Six: Set A Regular Social Activity
While summer spawns spontaneity, winter is all about pre-meditation. Knowing my natural inclination to hibernate, I no longer rely on spontaneous moods to text friends for drinks or dinner, but rely on pre-set social activities instead.
Each winter, I host a book club as a regular way to ensure I’m connecting with friends and loved ones. Whether your activity involves a weekly brunch, an ice skating group, or a Tuesday trivia night, set social rituals to make sure you’re staying connected.
Unlike previous winters, I’m savoring each and every minute of this slower-than-average season of life. By investing in myself, savoring food and time with friends, and setting rituals for these cold weather days, I might even argue that I’m turning into a winter-is-my-favorite-season person.
It’s never too late to fall in love with winter. May these intentions help inspire and transform winter from a season of sadness to a season of sacredness.
Also by Dana: What’s Waterless Beauty? How This Trend Conserves Water
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Photo: Dana Drosdick