If you’re anything like me, experiencing a true winter still comes as kind of a surprise and shock to the system. I grew up where ‘winter’ still meant bright blue skies and no less than 10 degrees celsius, ever. Pretty relaxed winter there — none of this darkness at 3pm or even the possibility of seeing snow. Now, I actually feel the seasons change. This is such a wonderful thing; I love and am a huge advocate for moving with the natural changes to the environment around me.
The clocks go back for us in the UK this weekend, and with it will come the darkness. My motto being all about how to live a simpler, more self-compassionate life in a busy modern world, here are my suggestions for getting ready:
Start a new morning ritual
What, in the dark? I hear you say. Yes, exactly. It’s about to get really really hard to wake up in the morning, and besides buying light-up alarm clocks, it’s the perfect time to push through a new morning ritual.
I find it much easier to be up at 6am in summer and do exercise and whatnot, because it’s already light outside. Now, I’m practicing some self-compassion and switching things up. In the dark, I write more productively. So I’ve changed my routine, just a little. I wake up, start writing immediately, and then mediate/exercise/etc. If I meditate at 6am in the dark, I will literally just go back to sleep. But I refuse to give up meditating, so the question became how can I make this keep working?
Here’s What Will Happen if you Meditate for 50 Days
Or ‘An Experiment in Meditation: 50 Days and Counting…’
The winter months, for me, are not about throwing in the towel on all those well-established routines because they suddenly become 10x more difficult. They are about figuring out new ways to work with the season, not against it.
Get into the garden
For me, the garden is the ultimate calmer of nerves and restorer of energy. Even though it’s chilly outside, I take great pleasure in preparing the garden for the winter season — getting outside to prune back flowers, move plants that need protection from frost, and generally tidy things into an order that is as ready as I want to be for the winter months.
It’s true, right now is not the time to plant spring flowers. But it’s the perfect time for tulips and other bulbs that take the time over winter to develop into something special. I have just planted a series of bulbs from my trip to Amsterdam earlier in the year, and hope that by spring, I’ll have something beautiful on my balcony to enjoy.
Start making things as a hobby
You may not know this just by looking at me, but I love crochet. And there’s nothing more satisfying than making something really warm and useful for winter — right now, I’ve been crocheting warm winter hats in a variety of hues and it is awesome. I have had so much fun making winter more cuddly.
Making something with your own hands is a wonderful feeling, and knitting/crochet circles for younger (hipster) people are becoming more common. I think this is basically our response to the world that has become so driven by speed and accessibility to material goods — taking the time to pause, make something slowly and carefully yourself, is the very embodiment of a winter-vibe in this day and age. Try pottery, try cooking new recipes, try weaving or painting or… the list is endless.
Start a hobby group
In continuation of the above, why not start your own crochet or knitting circle? One of the difficulties of the darker days is that people are less willing to get out and meet, particularly in bad weather. However, getting people together to talk over coffee, wine, whatever, in a warm indoor spot, is one of the best things about the winter months. Creating a hobby group can help give people a good reason to get together, despite how crappy it seems outside.
This year I set about creating a book club with a close group of good people; we are all people who like to write in our own time, and creating the book club gave us all the opportunity to expand our reading repertoire and make suggestions that our friends may have never thought to read. It’s been completely fantastic, giving us all the chance to keep in touch, catch up regularly and engage in long thoughtful discussions over drink and snacks. Perfect.
Create the ultimate night-in
While winter offers up the added incentive to visit all my favourite (indoor) cultural spots in London, creating the ultimate night in is an absolutely necessary alternative. There are going to be long dark nights where going out just doesn’t make sense.
Learn a hearty recipe you can keep on reserve, find a list of new music or films, make sure you have access to a warm spot on a sofa with someone (or something — i.e. a furry pet friend) who knows how to cuddle. Winter is about digging in to the dark, and setting up small ways to still feel the joy of our community — even if it is just a community of two.
Embrace the cheesiness
There’s nothing wrong with the cheesiness of winter films, playing out in real life. Snow brings out our inner children, fireplaces are lovely and warm, and if you have to get your Pumpkin Spice Latte from wherever, then so be it — stereotypes are fun. Leaning in to the season makes it more bearable. So embrace the cheesiness, before the spring rolls around and the new spring stereotypes invade our day to day instead.
And yeah, of course you should check your heating, and get your flu jab, and make sure your car is prepped and you’re well stocked for coats and socks and whatnot. But with a few more specific seasonal joys, the darkness of winter becomes a little lighter.