Friday, January 16, 2015

Warm Up Your Winter

This hyacinth bulb warms my desk.
(It was only $2 at Aldi!)
I was born in March, when everything is bright and colorful and new. For that reason, I think, the dark and dreary and dead of winter just go against my instincts. In the past, winter has often turned me into quite the bear--grumpy and lethargic, wishing for spring. But lately, I've learned a few tricks to make it through. Maybe they'll help you too.

1. Buy winter clothes you love. Hubby, the outdoorsman, is always telling me to "just dress warmly," which may seem like common sense to everyone else. But I confess: I hate bulky coats and maiming mittens and hair-messing hats, and often I run out of the house without them. While this may seem like a no-brainer, I'm hoping that I'm not the only one who needs this reminder.

We can easily and practically combat the cold by buying colorful cold-weather accessories--gloves that fit well, a cute scarf, and a snug, fun coat. And then, of course, you have to wear them. I keep my gloves in my coat pockets so I don't have to think about them and my scarf on the hanger with my coat. Everything's there, easy to grab. You'll look fabulous on the outside--which will no doubt lift your spirits--and be toasty on the inside too.

2. Sit by the fire. Three years ago, we moved into a house with a fireplace, and it has made all the difference. When I'm bone cold, there's nothing like a wood-burning fire to warm me through. Don't have a fireplace? Find one! (Seriously. I've done it.) Does your coffee shop have one? What about a hotel lobby or restaurant? Go order a cup of something warm and relax. Even if it's just the fireplace video on YouTube, turn it on. You'll be amazed at how a fire warms you, both physically and emotionally.

3. Grow something. Something green brings a little life to the dead of winter. When all of those paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs go on Christmas clearance, buy one (or three). Place it on your desk or kitchen table where you can soak up the green and revel in its growth. I can't wait until the hyacinth on my desk fills my office with the fresh scent of spring. 

4. Citrus up! Hubby's grandparents send oranges and grapefruits every Christmas, forcing me (thankfully) to partake in the benefits of citrus fruits each winter. The high doses of vitamin C not only protect you from those winter colds and flus, but they contain lots of fiber, promote healthy vision, and have other benefits that will last you well beyond the chill of winter. And it seems that the lasting aroma of a freshly peeled orange has its benefits as well. 

5. Step into the light. More than anything, it's the gray of winter that gets me. But I've found that something as simple as keeping the blinds open in my office can make a difference. Be aware of the amount of natural and artificial light that you're getting each day. Natural light is the best. This article notes that "an hour's walk in winter sunlight was as effective as 2 1/2 hours of artificial light." So on those warmer winter days, bundle up and take a walk. If you're needing more of a jolt, you may even want to try light therapy.(Harvard Health recommends 10,000 lux to be effective.)

6. Keep hot drinks handy. Hot cocoa warms my soul. And for that reason, I have a jar of homemade cocoa mix sitting on my kitchen counter. Starting in October, we keep a jug of apple cider in the fridge, ready to be poured in the kettle and infused with cinnamon sticks. Hot tea, coffee--whatever warms you up--keep it stocked and on the counter for convenience. It'll warm your hands and your heart.

7. Read a book. Fill that extra indoor time with brain-stimulating activities, like reading, crosswords, board games, or Sudoku. It'll keep your brain active and happy all winter long. Plus, that book can take you to a faraway place, where the sun is shining, waves are crashing, and the smell of coconut oil fills the air. 

Just remember, after December 21, the days only get longer. But in the meantime, keep your inner bear at bay by warming up your winter. Your loved ones will thank you for it!

What do you do to brighten the winter days?


Judy said...

What a wonderful post, shared with me by Jamie Chavez. I enjoyed your ideas--was just thinking today of how much I love my blooming paper whites. They brighten up the whole house! Thanks for your fresh perspective.

Amy Parker said...

Thanks so much, Judy. I hope it helps to see you through to spring. :) Enjoy those paperwhites!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all need to "step into the light."

Amy Parker said...

Indeed! :)