Seven Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Does anyone else think that 2021 is looking suspiciously like 2020?
During our decades in pastoral ministry, we noticed that early winter seemed to be the toughest time of the year for our faith families. It’s easy to become depressed, agitated, and even contentious when the weather – and now the pandemic – keeps you indoors and isolated.
I’ve been practicing a bit of holy hibernation myself the past few weeks.
Here are seven things that have lifted my spirits:
1) SPEND TIME OUTDOORS WHATEVER THE WEATHER
I admit it – I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold. I spent 65 years living in the northern United States while staying inside as much as possible from November-April.
During our months serving in Norway, though, local friends taught us a wonderful rhyming expression: “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!” (translated: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!”)
My first purchase in Stavanger was a set of soft woolen underwear, and I tell you it’s been a game changer. Last month I joined an Appalachian hiking challenge (60 miles in 60 days) where I’m competing with others to hike whatever the weather.
Here in the mountains it’s often as cold as up north. But now that I don’t fear the freeze, I’ve begun to appreciate the beauty of winter: The dove-gray of the sky, the architectural symmetry of bare branches, the skim of ice on the pond.
2) CREATE KOSYLIG (COZINESS)
Despite months of limited sunlight, Scandinavians are said to be among the happiest people in the world. The days were already darkening when we left Norway in November of 2019, but the homes we visited were contentedly preparing for the long winter. They stock up on fleecy throws, firewood, reading material, and lots and LOTS of candles. They simply call the concept kosylig, or coziness (similar to the Danish hygge).
Our kids gave us a velvety throw for Christmas, and I light a scented candle on my desk whenever I need to log in hours on the computer.
3) SIMMER A POT OF SPICES
Reach in your kitchen cabinet or spice drawer and pull out cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and bay leaves. Grab an old pot, add water and throw in a handful of spices plus orange peels. Simmer on a back burner or woodstove all day. Your haven will smell heavenly!
4) INVITE THE LIGHT IN
If you read my last post in January, you know how much I love prisms that refract ribbons of color around a room. I’ve collected prisms of various shapes for decades, and for Christmas I gave them to our kids’ families. Our toddlers love to chase rainbows across the room! I even gave away a couple sets to you lovely blog readers.
If you need a recommendation, here’s an inexpensive set I like that comes in a satin-lined box complete with fishing line for hanging and a microfiber cloth to keep them sparkling.
5) BREAK OUT THE PERFUME
It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it, to use fragrance when you’re staying home. But if you’re spending all day with someone, that someone might as well smell nice!
Our bonus daughter Sarah J. gifted us with essential oils for Christmas that she bottled herself using dried lavender and eucalyptus from her garden in southern California. Whenever I smooth on a few drops of Oil of Jaggers, I breathe a sigh of contentment and thanks.
6) TRAVEL ANYWHERE FROM YOUR ARMCHAIR
This winter I’ve stocked up on new books that allow my mind to roam even when my body must stay home. Here are a few I’m reading now:
I was also thrilled to have my own book, This Life We Share, included in this curated list of favorite reads. (I’ve read quite a few of the nonfiction books as well as novels on Lucinda’s list and have ordered more.)
Even if your local library or bookstore isn’t open to the public, most are doing curbside pickup. Reserve a stack of books, curl up and let your favorite chair cradle your bones while your mind travels.
7) LISTEN TO GOD IN THE SILENCE
Snow is falling here in the mountains, and I’ve not left our home in days. But in the silence, I am tilting my ears to what God has for me in the months ahead as long-anticipated events are once again cancelled.
My word for 2021: Listen. God said it first.
“Shhhhhhhh. Be still. Open your ears, open your soul. Drink in the stillness, the quiet, the pause. This dawn, this start to the day, is reminder: the holiest sound in the whole wide world is the sound of just listening.” Barbara Mahaney, The Stillness of Winter: Sacred Blessings of the Season
In the quietude of the week ahead, I invite you to spend time outdoors. Create kosylig. Simmer a pot of spices. Invite the light in. Break out the perfume. Travel anywhere. Listen to God.
Let’s do it together.
Copyright 2021 Maggie Wallem Rowe
Maggie's first book, This Life We Share, is available anywhere Christian books are sold.
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