The mid-winter survival kit
Looking out of the window the other morning at the bright blue, cloudless sky with a warm horizontal sun beaming directly onto my face, it was almost possible to believe that I’d been catapulted into a different time of year: relaxing in a deckchair in my back garden in July; or basking in the warmth of the Turquoise Coast on a balmy August afternoon. Except, hold on a minute… it’s January and I’m well and truly located in the grip of British mid-winter; the morning after the coldest night of the season so far!
For so many people, this can be a downright miserable time of year. It’s not hard to feel totally fed up with the bleak, damp, freezing conditions and everlasting dark. The festive season and indeed any level of what we might think of as enjoyment well and truly in the past; not a great deal to look forward to in the near future and furthermore, the keeping of those well-intentioned resolutions (made, probably in much more ‘clement’ conditions), a torturous struggle. As if things weren’t bad enough, the detox regime forbidding even a conciliatory glass of wine!
Working from home last week on an especially cold, grey day, I was aware of my normally highly sociable, hyperactive Burmese cats cuddled up together in a state of complete immobility for most of the day, in a jumper drawer that had been accidentally left open. Wondering if they were ok after an entire morning of being unusually motionless I realised they were in fact totally fine, they were simply adjusting very sensibly to the sudden dip in temperature and light.
So is this what we should be doing at this time of year… hibernating? In any case, wouldn’t life be made a bit easier if this first, challenging segment of the year was viewed as something to be embraced rather than suffered in low spirits?
So with that in mind, here are some suggestions to get you through the next couple of months.
- At this time of year, we see so little daylight that for many people this can have a serious effect on their state of mind. While there are ‘daylight’ lamps designed specifically to help combat this, nothing beats taking any opportunity to get outside when it’s daylight. The cold and biting winds might put you off, but actually it’s probably more important to spend at least some time braving the elements at a time of year when we’re so starved of light. So try and build in regular time to get out in the fresh air: wrap up and combat the weather. The bleak winter landscapes are actually very atmospheric! It should help to increase endorphins, get the body moving (and aired!) and at the very least will bring a feeling of incredible relief when you arrive back indoors again!
- Just as some animals hibernate, this is a great opportunity to join them (well…at least some of the time!) Create a warm, welcoming environment at home where you can snuggle up watching those box-sets or books you’ve been meaning to read to actually have some potentially very quality time at home. Cooking some hearty, warming and delicious meals (stews, soups, curries) is also a lovely and inexpensive thing to do at this time of year…and very good for general well-being!
- If you’re a movie fan this is arguably the best time of year! Oscar season brings with it a multitude of great releases; so get to the nearest cinema! It’s indoors and should effectively transport you somewhere else for a few hours!
- Even though money’s likely to be short after the festive blow out, book a night out with friends or family imminently! Not only is January so much more civilised to go out in than the madness of December, there are some great restaurant deals out there. Plus it’s always nice to have something in the diary to look forward to.
- And resolutions? Well, if you are going to make them, a different time of year might be a better option. This is a time to recover from the holiday period, reflect on your achievements and good times in 2014 and start steadily setting your stall out for the rest of the year (when if not now, you should feel more in the mood to make necessary changes, whether significant or small)
So while I prepare my survival kit of a couple of newly acquired TV Drama box-sets, cinema tickets, bags of veggies from the local market and some very muddy wellies… I wish you, if not the jolliest, then the most conducive remainder of of the winter possible. And if the month of February being round the corner is equally unenticing…. the survival kit should keep you going. Plus the evenings will at least start to get noticeably lighter!
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