No, seriously: every year, everywhere I look, people seem to be having this magical, storybook winter experience – or writing about it on Facebook, anyway. Log fires. Roasted chestnuts. Sitting cuddled up under a blanket, sipping hot cocoa, while the snow falls out the window, like a scene from a Christmas card. And meanwhile there I am, huddled up against the radiator (because no log fires over here, unfortunately…), wishing there was a heat setting higher than MAXIMUM, and wondering if the sun will even bother coming up today, or if I’ll have to switch all the lights on at 11am again, because it’s so gloomy outside it feels like I’m living through a permanent night.
Who are these people with the log fires, and the roasting chestnuts, I want to know? And, more to the point, how come they seem to be getting a winter that’s so completely different from mine? Because that’s not “winter” they talk about: that’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life‘. And I want a wonderful life, too. One where I make snow angels in an oversized scarf (me, not the snow angels. I don’t think angels wear scarves, do they?), before going back to a cosy log cabin to drink mulled wine.
Actually, maybe I’ll just skip the mulled wine, because yuck. Also the snow angels: I’m not lying down in SNOW and you can’t make me. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I even LIKE roasted chestnuts: and a log fire would be a bit of a pain to maintain, surely? Do you still have to send small children down the chimney, I wonder? This is all getting a lot more complicated than I thought it would be…
Anyway, I may not be down with the log fires and all that jazz, but there has to be SOMETHING I can do to make the season more bearable, and this year I’m determined to find it. Because right now it’s technically still autumn, but I’m already starting to feel the effects of the gloomy weather and lack of daylight. This week has been particularly rough: we’ve had seven straight days of torrential rain and gale-force winds now: people often tell they’re “jealous” of that kind of weather, but I get very low when I don’t see daylight for a long time, and light boxes don’t seem to help. Which is why this year I’ll be trying these three techniques to (hopefully) survive the winter…
Give the house a bit of TLC
Because I spend most of my time indoors at this time of year, I figure I may as well try to enjoy it, and that begins with sprucing up the house a bit, and making it as comfortable and cosy as possible. We don’t have a huge budget for home improvement right now, which is unfortunate, because this is always exactly the time of year when I suddenly become convinced – CONVINCED – that winter wouldn’t be nearly as bad if I only had a faux fur blanket, say. Or a new dining room table. Or a small extension, to house the hot tub and steam room. Or a monkey. Or… you get what I mean. (Not a roaring log fire, though: I think we’ve established my feelings on that….)
Anyway, I can’t afford the hot tub OR the extension to put it in, and Terry is being a complete bore about the monkey, but there are lots of inexpensive little things you can do to make your home feel a bit more, well, homely, and the winter a bit more bearable. I will find out what these things are, and I will do them. I just hope to God one of them is “buy a monkey”. Or a pot-bellied pig at the very least.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to basically go into hibernation once the clocks go back. If it was up to me, I would literally go into hibernation, but it’s not quite the done thing, apparently, so I just skulk around the house, feeling sorry for myself and complaining that it’s dark outside, and it’s only 3pm. Now, getting out and actually doing something is slightly problematic for me, because I really, really hate the cold, but staying barricaded inside the house for months just makes the winter feel even longer, so this year I’m going to try my best to grit my teeth, wrap up warm, and DO something. Anything, really.
Having something to look forward to is a huge motivation for me: I basically spend the entire year looking forward to my summer holiday, and while winter isn’t going to provide me with anything quite as much fun, I know there ARE plenty of things I could be putting into the calendar to break up the long, dark weeks, and inject a bit of fun into the season. I mean, there HAS to be something, right?
Make the most of the daylight when it’s there
One of the things people always suggest when I talk about how affected I am by the winter is that I buy a light box. I do actually have one of these, but to be honest I don’t really notice much of a difference from using it. I do, however, feel better when I get out into the ACTUAL sunlight, and while there may not be a huge amount of it at this time of year, Scottish winters CAN be surprisingly sunny. Cold, obviously, but sunny: we actually tend to see more blue skies in winter than we do in summer (not this week, obviously, but still…), and although the days are very, very short, the sun is bright and beautiful when it’s out, so I just need to try to make sure I’m out too, and making the most of it.
During the summer, Terry and I will often arrange our schedules around the patches of sunshine that are forecast, so we can try our best to enjoy it: we don’t tend to do the same in the winter, though, and I think that needs to change. Lately I’ve been making the effort to run outdoors whenever I can, rather than hitting the treadmill: it’s not feasible every day, obviously (See: I hate the cold), but it does get me out of the house AND doing exercise, so that can’t be bad, can it?
Aaaand now it’s over to you guys: because, as you can see, I only managed to come up with three things to try, so it looks like I’m going to need some help with this one. There has to be SOMEONE else out there who shares my hatred of winter, and who’s managed to come up with some way to make it more bearable – if that person is you, I’d love to hear from you!