Around this time of year in the northern hemisphere, we often hear about the winter blues or the winter “blahs”. Right now, a lot of us are commiserating about snow and cold like there’s something new about wintertime!
I used to dislike winter, but I’ve changed the way I approach this season to make a big difference in how I experience it.
How I Changed My Winter Blues
Years ago, I lived in California where there was almost no change in the four seasons. You could look out the window at any time of the year and have almost no way of knowing what season it was.
At first, I loved it. It was amazing to be active and outdoors all year long. But after a few years, I realized I hadn’t read a single book because I was out and about so much. I was spending less time focused inward and I was starting to feel worn out.
When I returned to the northeast, I approached winter differently. Now I see it as a time to turn inward and slow down a little bit. It’s a time for me to be in a more “nesting” mode.
With this attitude, I can appreciate that there’s a balance that comes from the seasons if we live where there are seasons and contrast to different times of the year.
Now, I understand that most people don’t like to be cold. I thought I’d love living in a place where it’s warm all the time, but before long, there was a sameness that gave me a sense of the blahs more than winter ever had. There was nothing different, no changes, no cues from nature to adjust my pace and turn inward.
This was amplified by the fact that I was there during a drought, so there wasn’t even much rain. Believe it or not, I got tired of warm, sunny days!
The Seasons Reflect Life
Seasons and rainy days provide contrast. A sunny day can feel wonderful, but if it’s sunny and 71 degrees every day, we can start to take it for granted. We might stop appreciating that sunshine.
When we live with four seasons, we experience those natural cycles. In spring, the earth wakes up from a dormant phase, and the days grow longer and warmer. In summer, long days and hot temperatures lead to expansive growth. Fall is a time of letting go when tree shed their leaves and crops die off. The weather gets cooler and the days become shorter. Finally, in winter we experience the darkest, coldest days of the year when nature becomes more monochrome and less colorful.
Winter might be a time for much-needed rest. Animals hibernate in the winter and plants take a break from growth. Winter can also be a time of struggle when extreme weather can threaten our very survival, which can be a reminder that we’re not in control of how things go.
In many areas, winter weather is unpredictable and disrupts our plans. All it takes is a snowstorm or icy conditions to remind us that we’re not in charge! As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.”
A secret to overcoming winter blahs
During the winter, we tend to feel less energetic. The weather gets colder and more unpredictable and can feel uncomfortable with cold and biting wind. We often feel like eating more and moving less.
From my observations, a lot of these winter blahs stem from fighting these natural tendencies instead of accepting and working with them.
Think of it this way: We can accept that we feel less energetic and enjoy cozying up by the fire, knowing that our energy will return in the future.
Or we can fight it and try to push through our to-do list while we feel exhausted and would rather read a book on the couch with a warm blanket and a cup of tea.
True, we can certainly be impacted by the lack of light, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real condition. But for most of us, simply accepting how winter affects us and lowering our expectations is incredibly helpful for learning to enjoy winter instead of dreading it.
Winter is natural, and we are a part of nature. Winter can be a wonderful time for us, not just something that happens to derail our carefully laid plans!