It’s the time of year when people start counting down the days until spring. I begin hearing a lot of complaining about the cold, the snow, and winter in general.
I understand. It definitely will be nice to feel warmth, wear sandals, and get into the car without scraping off ice.
However, we’re doing ourselves a disservice to wish away the rest of this season. Despite how it might feel, winter will end, and there are even ways to enjoy the rest of it.
Plan for Spring.
One of the best ways to escape the winter doldrums is to imagine all the fun you’ll have this spring. Cherish this time to open seed catalogs, get out graph paper, and design your best garden yet. Maybe give the Mother Earth News vegetable garden planner a try, or figure out how you’ll be self-sufficient with one of the things that you’ll grow. For example, how much garlic would you need to grow to get you through the summer or the whole year?
Even if you’re not into gardening, or don’t have the space (but see this), you can still make plans for spring! Start to think about what day trips you’d like to take, a new home improvement project you’ll start, or what new parks you’d like to check out.
Don’t Stop Going Outside
What? Go Outside?!
Yes, I know you’re warm and cozy and this can sound insane. I certainly can attest that people look at me like I’m crazy when I’m outside doing my daily rounds (wearing the baby, heaven forbid!), but I have a secret to share with you. Once you start moving around, you will warm up! One of the trickiest things I’ve found while babywearing in the winter is actually how to keep us from getting too hot!
You might not have a little furnace to wear on your belly, but I promise you’ll start to get warm if you spend more than 5 minutes walking around at a decent pace. That said, I do skip my daily walks when the windchill is dangerously low, but anything above 20*F is usually fair game in my eyes!
The many benefits of being outside won’t go away just because it’s cold, and an hour of walking outside in the winter may be as effective as 2.5 hours of light therapy. Plus, exercise in general is known to boost our moods. Of course, walking isn’t the only way to enjoy the winter weather — why not try snow shoeing or cross-country skiing this year?
Notice the Little Things
Now that you’re outside, take the time to really look around. There is still so much beauty in the winter! Today, I was in awe multiple times. The snow looked as though a giant glitter shaker had exploded over the neighborhood. It was dazzling!
The red cardinals were popping with color against the background of bare brown branches, and the buds on the trees are really beginning to swell. Truly, there are signs of spring everywhere. Have you taken the time to notice them?
The quality of evening light is also beautiful this time of year. Have you ever really noticed the hour before sunset? My mom calls this the “blue time”. It’s something to behold along with the long, long shadows and peachy warm glow of light at sunrise. Have you noticed that the birds are beginning to call more and more in the morning? Have you seen the hawks doing mating dances and looking for trees in which to nest?
Enjoy the Slow Pace
Our culture is obsessed with being busy! Paradoxically, we always wish we had more time. Take advantage of the long evenings and your slow days indoors. Practice the fine art of rest and relaxation. It won’t be long until you’re busy from dawn until dusk and the social engagements are picking up.
This is the time to remember how to nap, read books, enjoy candlelit nights, and cozy up with tea. Still feeling bored? Why not use this time to begin a new hobby, start thinking about a new career path, or take a free college-level course through Coursera?
These long hours won’t last forever — stop wishing them away and enjoy them!
Eat the Right Things
You’ve heard it before, but it doesn’t hurt to hear it again: eating well will make you feel better. Use the extra nighttime hours to learn how to cook some nourishing, warming soul foods that are also healthy.
In addition, you might also consider adding sunshine to your life in the form of Vitamin D which may help to boost mood during the winter months. At times, I’ll also take out some of the St. John’s Wort I’ve saved from the previous season. This herb is known to help with cases of minor depression, but there’s something particularly uplifting about using your own St. John’s Wort. You can practically feel the warmth and vibrancy of summer from the day you harvested the herb. It’s an instant mood booster!
Embrace the Present Moment
It’s so easy to get caught up in wishing for what’s next or remembering how good things were before. But by doing this, you’re missing out on the good stuff — the present moment — where life is actually happening! Getting too caught up in wishing for spring will almost guarantee that you miss out on all the positive things that are going on around you today.
Sure, you may wish it was warmer or sunnier, but how else can you focus your energy? Look around and find what good is happening today. I guarantee that it’s there somewhere! Take a few moments to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and remember that you are alive. It is a wonderful gift. Don’t rush your life away wishing it was a different season.
Breathe, embrace, enjoy.
And one final thought. If we can just get through this, Spring is going to feel soooo good!