It’s mid-January. Earlier this week ‘blue’ Monday occurred. This third Monday of January is deemed the most depressing day of the year. Whether it’s blue Monday, January doldrums, or winter blahs, at this time of year it’s difficult to stay motivated and energized.
For many who live in the Northern Hemisphere, the holiday cheer faded into memory just as the Christmas decor was put into storage bins and the remaining stale cookies chucked into the trash bin. While I’m glad to return to familiar routines, I miss the falalalala that gave permission to goof off and enjoy the merriment.
Except for one day, the daily high temperature in my part of Ontario, Canada, has stubbornly remained below zero degrees Celcius. Several times Environment Canada has issued severe weather alerts due to extreme cold, large amounts of snow, or, both cold and snow mixed together. Days are short. As well, many days are cloudy and sunlight seems a distant memory.
It’s time to face winter’s challenges. I’ve resolved to dig into my storehouse of ideas to keep a positive attitude through the remainder of this season. No self-pity or negative thinking for me. I’ll choose to stay positive and optimistic.
This year I’m intrigued by the Danish concept of hygge, a Danish word that loosely means ‘getting cozy’. Danes manage long cold winters by slowing down and spending time in the warmth and comfort of home surrounded by family and friends. Retreating from the world and staying snug in a warm sweater while streaming movies, listening to music, or reading makes for a comfortable and congenial lifestyle during long winter evenings when forced indoors. This wellness trend invites one to become a homebody socializing with small groups of friends and surrounded by things that invite an atmosphere of comfort.
Snuggling at home also signals a time for seasonal comfort foods that are easy to prepare. My slow cooker produces wonderful soups and stews that warm body and soul. I never hesitate to turn on the oven as I love the extra radiant warmth in my kitchen. As well, I love the smell of my home baked bread, muffins, and pies. A cup of fragrant herbal tea, a goblet of mulled wine or a cup of hot cider are other favourites for warming body and soul.
The lack of sunshine makes me turn on lights all over the house. Upbeat music at a good volume quickly changes my mood. I also try to surround myself with bright colours. How wonderful that the local grocery store is already stocking barrels of spring flowers! cut tulips and potted daffodils are a welcome relief from the droopy leftover Christmas poinsettias.
Activities that happen outside of the house ensure connection with a bigger world. Even when confronted with driving on icy or snow-covered streets, outings for bridge games, book clubs, lunch dates, or pub nights bring feelings of warmth along with opportunities for fun and laughter. As long as the driveway is clear I won’t turn down a social invitation nor an opportunity for a restaurant meal with family or friends.
Winter is a great time to organize and de-clutter. After the BIG purge in 2016 when we moved, I swore that I would organize and purge every year. Well, I skipped 2017 as everything was still organized after moving but closets and drawers and cabinets are beginning to bulge again. I vow that when the next snow storm keeps me at home, I’ll sort through the closets to identify items that haven’t been used or loved in the past few months.
If winter drags on for weeks and weeks, I’ll have time to tackle the yarn stash and do some knitting. I might start reading the pile of Christmas books. Regardless, I’ll face winter by making the choice for happiness and maintaining a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. I wish the same for all postworksavvy readers.
NOTE — This post is meant to help readers face winter doldrums. Some people experience serious depression during winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression. Light therapy may help but readers who suffer from SAD or other depression should seek medical treatment.