When it comes to winter, a lot of us think “cold”, “dark”, “miserable”, “boring”, “long”…generally summed up by the word “blah”. What if I told you that just by changing up a few things in your daily or weekly routine, if not all these adjectives but definitely some, can be changed for happier and brighter ones?
I will admit that occasionally I suffer from seasonal depression, also known as winter blues. When the days are grey with very little sunshine, my mood just plummets to the bottom of the charts. I can’t help it, it just sucks me right into the thick of this weird anti-productivity hibernation. And that, inadvertently, affects the rest of my family. If I feel “blah”, the kids pick up on that and model their attitudes based on mine. I want to break free from this “blah” feeling and not let it determine my mood this winter season.
These are just a few ideas on how to combat those pesky moody winter days and have a bit more “sunshine” in your life instead!
1. Have a cup of coffee/tea…al fresco!
Now, before you huff and puff, it may sound crazier than it actually is in real life. When I first did this, it was out of sheer desperation to have a quiet moment to myself. My kids were bickering again; I snapped and said things I didn’t mean; the tension was rising, and I just knew that I just had to step outside for a moment. I grabbed my cup of leftover coffee and just stood on the back stoop, sipping my drink and breathing deeply…
I only stayed in the cold air for a few minutes, but the shock of the cold, the stillness of nature, vast sky, and light breeze…were just the things that grounded me and gave that much needed boost of refreshment to my mind and heart. I went back in with a renewed mindset and attitude.
I have since done that several times: just standing outside for a few minutes with my drink, letting my whole self be chilled in both literal and metaphorical senses. Amazing what a few minutes outside can do to your physic!
2. Establish winter traditions.
I’m a big fan of family rituals and traditions. They keep us connected not only to the times of past, but also to each other. They help us to stay engaged with one another, which is something we all struggle from time to time.
Some families write down a big list of things they want to do in the winter, sort of like a Bucket List, and then they cross out the things they have done (and maybe save the rest for the next winter).
These winter traditions can be both indoor cozy ones or outdoor adventures. The key is to do something fun together, something that you can look forward to all year!
Examples of recurring winter traditions can be:
- Skiing (or ski school for kids)
- Snow Tubing
- Making a snowman
- Winter Hiking (especially to the waterfalls)
- Board Game Night
- Video game night
- Movie night
- Sleepover in your sibling’s room or parents’ room
- Road trip (even if it’s just to visit the next town over)
- Staycation in the hotel in your town (bonus points if the hotel has a pool!)
- Make Snow Ice Cream
- Hot Chocolate Bar
- Bake chocolate chip cookies
- Make s’mores in the fireplace
Winter is a perfect time to get through the junk you have accumulated over the past year or so. Spring cleaning fever will be ready to bite you in a few short weeks, so what better way to prepare for it than by getting rid of the unnecessary and making more room in your home?
Put on some favorite tunes or a TV show you know well, get some snacks to be ready to munch on and keep you going and get to work! Don’t try to bite more than you can chew though. Start small, with a small area of your home and then proceed to the next corner of your house.
Celebrate your small victories with whatever you deem suitable for a reward and don’t stop there. Keep going and look at it as a journey of simplifying your life, not a final destination.
4. Hit up a library!
Winter does bring limitations, such as brutally cold temperatures at times and also very short day time. We spend a lot of time indoors during winter months, but you can certainly use these limitations to your advantage.
Find a cozy spot in your home, get yourself a snack or a drink and get lost in a story. It seems like reading has become somewhat of an afterthought for a pass time these days, unrightfully so! Netflix might be convenient, no doubt, but reading a book by yourself, imagining your own costumes and expressions on characters’ faces, turning the pages and holding your breath as you wait for the events to unfold, is something no TV production can replace, in my opinion.
One more suggestion: pick a book to read out loud as a family! I was encouraged recently by Crystal Paine and her post of the books she plans on reading out loud with her kids this year. Check it out if you are curious.
My husband and I usually take turns reading books out loud to our kids. The last one I read was “Magic Tree House: Balto of the Blue Dawn”. The next on my husband’s list are “Star Wars Ahsoka” and “Star Wars Guardians of the Whills”. Whatever your kids’ interests are, choose an appropriate book and give it a try! It’s such an easy way to bond as a family, discuss new tings and ideas, and it helps your foggy winter brain to stay in good active shape!
Library materials are free and usually easily accessible, so don’t overlook this wonderful local resource.
It doesn’t have to be anything cheesy, like “dear diary”! Journaling is one of the most effective ways of reflecting, debriefing, relaxing, or recharging. By writing down your thoughts, you are effectively taking the emotional baggage off our shoulders and passing it on to the paper instead. Journaling can be therapeutic or invigorating, depending on why you use it.
Some people write down their feelings about an experience or event as well as their thoughts on a particular topic (reflection journaling). Others, record their gratitude and praises (gratitude journaling). Yet, others use their journals for planning and dreaming (bullet journaling), and some — for creative writing and exercising their imagination through art (creative journaling). Whatever the reason behind it, journaling enables your brain to let go of the information swirling around and helps you to process your thoughts and ideas in a new way.
I encourage our children to write summer journals (see the photo above) as reflections of their days full of summertime adventures. They always struggle with it in the beginning, but when winter comes, they absolutely love reading and re-reading their own thoughts and ideas about life. Winter is probably even a better season to journal as it gives you more time to be creative and thoughtful.
I hope these ideas encourage some of you to see winter not as an annoyance of a season, but as an opportunity to take a fresh look on your life, find new ways to spend time as a family, and try to enjoy your bleak winter days! Spring will be here before you know it! Greet it with a smile of having had a super fun winter!