This week has felt like a growing pile of frustrations, one after another. Work has been long, cold and a string of problems I (felt) I couldn’t solve. Maybe it’s adapting to the darker days and the perpetual grey cloud we’ve been experiencing but I’ve struggled to be cheerful this week.
Here is my list of winter survival comforts. Everyone will have their own idea of comfort and personal care, and these are some of the things I do to keep myself warm and well during the winter months. And lets face it, sometimes the summer months too!
- All year around I like to get up and outside early in the day.
It helps me focus my ever-thinking mind, keep energetic for the day and manage my hunger. I don’t know if anyone else finds this but if I sit still too long in the morning, I tend to crave lunch anytime from 10.30am. Doing exercise really helps me feel at my best so I try to get outside, walking Oscar and feeding Kiwi soon after or before breakfast. My current morning routine is going to Kiwi straight after I get up. I come home, change for work, have my toast and head to the office. I start my working day with an inbox of unread emails and a cup of hot tea at 8am.
I found that going to the gym in the evenings has a similar effect on me. After a long, boring day sitting in an office, I used to drag myself to the gym and after just a few minutes running or using machines I felt energised and optimistic. If I ever feel like I can’t stick to an activity, I’m bored and lacking focus, chances are I’m hungry or I need to exercise. For me, it makes a huge difference to how I feel, especially in the winter when time outside in the light is limited.
Just 45 minutes on a windy dog walk or feeding Kiwi and mucking out his field makes me feel calm and cheerful. Of course it’s not very glamorous, lugging a heavy wheelbarrow of muck or a 17L water bottle around and I usually come home a bit soggy with rain or sweat and tired but I like being able to take my boots off and remove all my layers. I change into cosy clothes and sit down feeling ready for what the day brings.
- Winter brings an excuse for indulgence in the form of hot chocolate. I try to regulate my sugar intake each day because I can easily become addicted to sweets and start craving things that don’t make me feel good in the long run. I am sticking with having one sweet treat a day (fruit doesn’t count). I tend to have something after lunch or wait until after dinner for an evening hot chocolate.
I have tried a range of different chocolates; very fancy chocolate shavings from Charbonnel & Walker gourmet chocolatiers, Twinnings Swiss chocolate drink, cadburys freddo drinking chocolate and most exciting of all are Whittard’s luxury white hot chocolate and peanut butter hot chocolate. They have an incredible range of hot chocolates on their website! My favourite concoction right now is; 1tspn of freddo hot chocolate, 1tspn of Whittards white and 1tspn of Whittards peanut butter hot chocolate with hot milk. One of my favourite things to do on a cold evening is get into cosy pjs and make a hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows on top. It makes me feel warm and decadent.
- Three years ago I discovered LUMIE.
The company Lumie make light boxes for helping people manage seasonal affective disorder (SAD). They also have Body-clock wake up lights and skin treatment therapy lights. A friend recommended their light boxes to me as she said she noticed a marked difference in her ability to cope in winter when she used a Lightbox to combat symptoms of SAD.
I bought the Arabica light and it’s one of my best buys. I thought at first it wouldn’t do any harm but that it probably wouldn’t make a difference either but to my surprise, I’ve really benefited from using it. I turn it on as soon as I wake up and soak up some light rays before I get out of bed. You don’t need to look directly at it, just have it in front of you when reading or on a computer etc. I find using my Lumie helps me feel energised, optimistic and generally less worried and anxious during the winter months. The light is beautiful and warming and really pleasant to have on in my room.
- A hot water bottle for using at my desk at work.
My dislike of work in the winter is partly due to the time I spend sitting at my desk on the computer. When I sit still I loose warmth very quickly. Usually I sit in a jumper, a gilet, possibly a scarf and last resort a hot water bottle. I hate the feeling of my hands going stiff and my shoulders feeling chilled and hunching over. We have a boiling water tap at work for tea and coffee which means filling my hot water bottle is quick and easy.
My hot water bottle has a pink fluffy cover. My sister bought it for me and it’s one of my favourite presents. Working in an office of male scientists and engineers means I’m used to the continuous cycle of comments, such as; “why are you always cold” and “are you serious? Pink and fluffy?”. It’s a small company and a good place to work. The daily banter is one of the nice things about my job. And yes, It is pink and fluffy and yes, it does keep me wonderfully warm. I believe it’s good for a group of men who work in a predominantly male industry to see that I have a pink fluffy hot water bottle and I’m very proud of it.
- When the days are bright, look for colour.
Even if it’s really cold and the wind is bitter, I try to find colour and beauty in nature. For the longest time I couldn’t do either of these things. As cold weather approached I was full of heavy thoughts about the darkness and the cold and I couldn’t see any of the excitement of the autumn. It’s one of the things that so surprised me when I started to get a grip on my mental health. When Autumn started, I noticed the world-changing. The trees changing colour, some dropping their leaves, the sky becoming moodier and deeper as the evenings drew in. I like to remind myself of this when I have a bad day or I’m struggling with something. If I feel stuck and unsure what to do, the world continue’s it’s seasonal cycle. Things do change continually so a bad day is just that, a day, and it will change.
- Sometimes, I find myself staring into a bleak cloud covered day of dullness. This is the time to be creative.
I really dislike long grey days, especially when the cloud seems to sit low in the sky, almost suffocating us. On days like this I have learn’t that I will want to sit inside and watch comforting movies with many blankets. This is okay to a point, but I end up feeling even more grim by the end of the day if I haven’t don’t much else. So I try to be creative. Whether it’s cooking, baking or sewing, sometimes writing or working on a scrapbook. Focusing on something that is exciting and is motivating helps me ignore the grim weather. So what if the day is cold and grey, I’ll make brownies. Something as simple as baking an easy recipe I’ve made many times over (thank you Mary Berry) is a positive task that motivates me to keep active when actually I want to curl up and hibernate. I find it’s good to make myself do an activity like organising my room or hoovering the floor. Something to tick of my to do list and feel I’ve achieved.