For me, winter has never been the top season, but annually, once the snowy and chilly weather sets in, I persuade myself that it’s wonderful. This false illusion occurs as the advent of winter aligns with the commencement of the holiday season, providing ample festive diversions. However, once Christmas passes, the reality sets in that I do not appreciate this season at all. It’s frigid, dispiriting, and the sun sets so early, making it challenging to muster the energy to venture outdoors. The most disheartening aspect is catching a glimpse of spring, only for it to be fleeting, plunging into another prolonged month of winter. Enter the mid-winter doldrums.
This year, my resolve is to sustain the merriment through winter until spring genuinely takes hold. By making deliberate tweaks to my routine, I aim to remain occupied and persevere through the season until the days become lengthy, warm, and radiant. For families living in regions afflicted by an interminable winter, here are a few concepts to integrate into the season to render it tolerable—and perhaps even pleasurable.
How to Navigate the Mid-Winter Doldrums
1. Uncover a Regular Class or Activity
I’ve come to realize that merely finding a one-off activity to attend when the mid-winter doldrums start encroaching is inadequate. To truly overcome my languor and propensity to laze about on the sofa, I require a recurring activity that consistently keeps me away from home. Otherwise, I’m liable to partake in a solitary event and then revert to my habit of dozing off at 7:30 p.m. on the sofa.
Possible options encompass consistent participation in volunteer work, exercise classes, or a book club. Even if your timetable only permits being the one who ventures out of the house regularly to chauffeur the kids to their post-school activities, use the driving and waiting time to catch up on a podcast or audiobook.
2. Establish New Traditions
While we focus extensively on family customs in December, what about the other 11 months? If you’ve exhausted your holiday checklist, remember that enjoyable family activities need not cease as January, February, and March beckon the arrival of spring. Brainstorm novel traditions to commemorate each month, schedule them, and galvanize your family for the forthcoming activities. Consider a day dedicated to volunteering, a Valentine’s baking soiree, a winter family escapade, and so forth.
3. Allocate Time Outdoors Daily
Although it’s chilly, exposing oneself to a daily dose of fresh air (and hopefully sunlight!) can enhance one’s spirits. If you’re home during the daytime, bundle up and take a stroll around the neighborhood with the kids or the dog. If you’re employed outside the home, strive to get outdoors at least once during the day, even if it’s simply for a brief stroll to and fro across the parking lot. On weekends, rally the family for a brunch outing, sledding excursion, or an afternoon at the cinema in lieu of idling at home from dawn till dusk.
4. Simulate Warmer Climates
Engage in an indoor water park visit, organize a tropical tiki gathering, concoct popsicles, or perhaps indulge in a frozen rosé or a shandy. Likewise, endeavor to integrate some of your beloved summer customs into winter—brush the snow off the grill and prepare burgers for dinner, utilize sidewalk chalk on drawing paper, or employ sand toys and snow to fabricate an indoor sensory container. Even something as straightforward as lighting a summery candle can foster a better disposition.
5. Plan Your Upcoming Excursion
The onset of winter tends to be replete with convivial gatherings and enjoyable getaways. It can be disheartening to behold an empty calendar for the new year with few prospects. So, counter this by embarking on trip planning. Whether it’s a road trip, a flight to a new locale, or merely a visit to friends a few hours away, initiate the planning process now. Even if the trip is not imminent, half the thrill lies in the groundwork and anticipation of future travel.
6. Perfect a Complex Recipe
Being confined indoors provides the ideal chance to tackle an intricate and time-intensive recipe. Given the early nightfall, utilize the additional hours at home to progress through a sophisticated cookbook, employ your fine tableware, and arrange a gourmet repast conducive to protracted conversations.
7. Revisit Your Resolutions
Recall the list crafted at the outset of January? Take a glance. If you’re akin to us, your resolutions might have entailed objectives such as “live in the present,” “let go of perfection,” and “grant yourself leniency.” Remember to appreciate what you possess, where you’re situated, and what is yet to transpire.
8. Engage with a Novel Book or Streaming Series
Nestle by the hearth with a steaming cup of tea or a glass of red wine and immerse yourself in a lengthy book or view a streaming series that you’ve been meaning to explore for an eternity. It’s a splendid way to savor the feeling of accomplishment, finally having perused that seminal novel or comprehended the essence of the numerous viral social media memes.
9. Maximize Indoor Productivity
Being confined indoors provides the perfect opportunity to finally address a domiciliary venture. Give the kitchen cabinets a fresh coat of paint, replace the knobs in the kitchen or bathroom, hang new drapes, or engage in decluttering and reorganizing the basement with innovative storage implements. The surge of achievement and productivity will undoubtedly help overcome the mid-winter doldrums, and the abode will be primed for summer gatherings.
10. Foster Connections
The advent of winter heralds the holiday season when many of us fortuitously relish the company of extended family and friends. However, once this phase subsides, it can be challenging to frequently rendezvous with cherished individuals for the remainder of the year. Focus on ways to maintain connections, even from a distance. Refrain from allowing extended periods to transpire before checking in. Whether or not there is a specific holiday or pretext to communicate, orchestrate FaceTime appointments, and dispatch a brief “thinking of you” text or email. Devise innovative approaches to remain close with those whom you don’t encounter regularly.
11. Savor This Leisurely Season
Just as with various phases in life, it’s permissible to experience a broad spectrum of emotions—whatever they may be. If the preceding months felt particularly uneventful or unproductive or have, on the whole, fallen short of your aspirations in any way, that’s entirely legitimate. This time of year can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy. Mitigate this sentiment by taking a hiatus from social media. When thoughts about not measuring up—across all domains—begin to surface, endeavor to reframe your perspective by esteeming this leisurely season and the tranquility it brings. The serenity and repose (and hibernation) of winter carry significance. Once your social itinerary brims with engagements and enjoyable activities once more, you’ll reflect fondly upon this period.