I love winter. I love the snow, the crisp cold air, the short days, hazy sun glittering off of the icicles hanging on our house…the cozy nights wrapped up in a blanket with a good cup of tea.
After 12 years overseas (where we didn’t have four seasons–it was either raining or it wasn’t) we moved to central Indiana. The year our girls went to university (2013) was the wickedest, nastiest, coldest, snowiest winter in almost 20 years. They were miserable…and I was so jealous! When we came in September of 2015 I was ready…bring it on, winter! Instead of mounds and mounds of snow and snowmen and beautiful bare tree-filled landscapes…we’ve had this.
My soul gets soggy when the days are like this. This has been the view out my back door since approximately forever. My puppies are over it–they go down the back steps, walk 3 feet, do their thing and come right back inside. I decided I am going to have to be intentional about finding ways to lift my mood and my spirits, so that I don’t find myself slipping into a seasonal depression. I started thinking about the little things that I do to lift my spirits and realized that I’m doing more than I thought I was! Here are a few of my favorite ways to deal with the winter blues.
Light a candle.
There is something about lighting a candle that lightens my emotional load a bit. I prefer candles with a scent to them, but even an unscented candle still gives off a glow and brightens the day. Musky scents are my favorite, and “Crisp Fall Night” by Yankee Candle is my current candle-crush. I have the candle, the car-freshener and several of the wax melts for my burner. Clearly I do nothing in moderation. 😀
I am an emotional eater, but not the kind that eats when I’m stressed. Instead of eating too much when I get down, I don’t eat enough. As my mood continues to fall, so does my desire to eat, and I find myself skipping meals and just grabbing a snack (usually a very unhealthy snack) throughout the day. This causes my blood sugar to go all wonky on me, which makes me grumpy and depressed…it’s a cycle. I find that if I make sure to eat healthy meals and watch my snacking, I feel better in general. I’m also really REALLY bad about eating out, especially when my hubby is traveling. I don’t enjoy cooking, and it’s easier to run and grab fast food than it is to prepare a meal for just me and Patrick. I’m trying desperately to change this particular habit–it’s not good for me OR Patrick.
But not too right…
If I am watching what I eat and making sure to eat healthy on a regular basis, then I feel like it’s OK to allow myself some “comfort foods” too. Homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, shepherd’s pie and chili with plenty of shredded cheese and sour cream are all comfort foods for me. I also love to bake, so a batch of brownies or cookies is a good way to pass the time, and gives me some yummy snacks for the next few days. I’m not above just making brownie batter or cookie dough and grabbing a spoon. I know, I know. The egg thing. But I never eat more than a few bites. And I’ve never met anyone who actually got sick or died from brownie batter or cookie dough so…
Time with Jesus.
Did you ever have something that made you feel SO GOOD when you did it…and yet you find yourself putting it off or skipping it entirely when your mood starts to take a nosedive? That’s time in the Word for me. When I make it intentional, get up early and spend good quality time with the Lord in the morning, my day…and my mood…are so much brighter. And yet when the dark days of winter set in, and I find myself craving more sleep and having less motivation for pretty much everything, I find that I begin to neglect my quiet time.
I made up my mind that I was going to be more intentional in this area this year. On the advice of a good friend, I purchased the Inspire Bible. I bought the large print edition so that I would have plenty of space for notes, journaling and coloring. Also so I can actually see the words, which is becoming more of an issue as I rapidly approach the age where I start falling apart. This is hands-down my favorite bible ever. There are key verses printed on the pages that can be colored, and I find myself meditating on that particular verse as I am channeling my inner child and coloring away.
As you can see, I’ve been parked in Deuteronomy for a bit. Deuteronomy 1:6 is one of my favorite verses.
My thoughts on this verse from the the other day…
Reading in Deuteronomy this morning about how it should only have taken the Israelites 11 days to get where they were going (and my husband thinks I get lost a lot. Hmph) I’ve always pictured the exodus as a sort of constantly moving mass of people just tromping around in circles, wandering aimlessly but never really stopping.
Chapter 1 verse 6 says “You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on.” Basically, instead of wandering, the Israelites set up camp in the middle of their mess and stayed there. Parked the camel, took the luggage rack off and put away the dishes.
I wonder how many times I’ve parked my camel and set up housekeeping in the middle of my mess? More than I care to remember. It’s interesting that the Lord allowed them to stay there for a while, then said “OK, pity party is over. Move along.” He allows us to stay where we are for a season, and if we need to wallow, He lets us do that too. But not forever. Eventually He tells us to break camp and move on. “Not your mountain anymore. Off you go.”
It is easy to “set up housekeeping in the middle of my mess” when the days are long and grey, and spring seems a long way off. I need the reminder that I can only stay here so long, and then it’s time to move on.
Long grey winter days are perfect for cleaning out closets, drawers and anywhere else that stuff tends to accumulate. I don’t feel guilty for not being outside, because it’s cold and rainy anyway, and I can focus on what I’m doing. There is a sense of satisfaction and peace that comes from knowing that I’ve gotten (at least one) area decluttered and ready for spring.
Put on some music.
Music is one of my love languages. I have ridiculously eclectic tastes…my iTunes library includes everything from AC/DC to the Bee Gees to Andy Grammar to medieval Gregorian chants from a monastery. I love music because it speaks the words when I can’t, and brightens even my grumpiest days. Make a playlist (or several) of your favorite music, and when the rain goes on and on…put one on and dance! Here’s a playlist of some of my favorites to get you started (Hey–I TOLD you I have eclectic taste!)
Rearrange the furniture!
This is one of my favorite ways to bring myself out of a winter-induced grump. Moving things around not only changes my perspective on the room, but it also gives me a new perspective emotionally. And an added benefit of moving things around is that I clean as I go, meaning I’ve accomplished two things. Because I have pretty wicked anxiety issues (which can be compounded by seasonal depression), I have to keep my house clean and neat or things start to snowball emotionally. I also like to pair this one with clutter busting, as I can remove things that are no longer working in my space as I go.
Read a good book.
I am an avid reader, and I usually have about six books going at a time all over the house. Winter is the perfect time to grab that new book that you’ve been wanting to read, curl up in a chair and enjoy. And do yourself a favor–buy the actual book. Kindle is great, and I have hundreds of books on mine, but sometimes you need the book. The paper, the weight, the ability to go back and reread something easily…buy the book. You’ll be so glad you did. These are my current reads–lots of rereading, underlining and pondering going on right now.
If you don’t already have one, buy yourself a journal. Make sure it’s the RIGHT journal. And a pen. You need a good pen. I am ridiculously picky about my pen–it has to feel “just right” in my hand, can only have black ink and I am constantly on the hunt for the finest point I can find. The pen in the picture came from Newport Style–you can get one here. I bought it for myself for Christmas two years ago, and it is hands-down my favorite present ever. OK, my favorite present to me, anyway.
Phone a friend.
If you’re getting cabin fever, chances are your friends are too. Meeting for lunch, taking a hike, grabbing a cup of coffee, spending an afternoon checking out the clearance section at Hobby Lobby…all of these are great ways to get out of the house and spend some time socializing. Unless you’re planning to hang out with me. Then you should know we are not going hiking. Nope nope nope. If you want to hike, you have to call one of your hiking friends. If you want Hobby Lobby, lunch or anything coffee, I’m your girl.
Change your attitude!
This is my biggest hurdle, by far. On the very scientific “Winnie the Pooh Personality test” I am a solid mix of Eeyore and Piglet. This means that I expect the very worst in just about every situation…and even when the worst doesn’t happen I stress about it anyway! When the weather is getting to me and I feel myself start to slip, I have to make a conscious effort to change my thinking. It’s grey outside, but it won’t last forever…right?
“Surely everyone is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o’clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whilst the wind and rain are raging audibly without.”
― Thomas de Quincey