For many of us it’s the dark time of year and now that the festivities are over some people really begin to struggle. It’s something that can creep up on us and eventually you realise that you’ve been feeling rather bogged down and low on energy for a while. But I realised this Winter that I seemed to cope well; it hasn’t gotten me down, I haven’t felt depressed or cabin feverish. I have made a few subtle changes this time around and really feel like this is what has made most of the difference and wanted to share a few of my tips with you in the hopes that they help you to keep afloat until the sun comes around again….
Now, I know that the whole of Instagram / the world is telling you to go out and spend a fortune on scented candles, but now I finally get why. I’ve been burning these beautiful hand poured winter season candles by Att Pynta (not spon!) and the scent has been so comforting and woody that it honestly has lifted my mood every single evening. Paired with a log fire on the go, these have made our home feel SO calm and enveloping. Who still wants to go out? Not me.
This is a term my husband invented for getting cosy in the home and it’s become something of a mantra in our house now. If this is the season for hibernation then let’s do it properly- I’m talking blankets and cushions on the sofa, extra on the bed, hot water bottle at the ready as part of your evening routine. We live in an old (which equals ‘cold’) house, so I have the hot water bottle on standby in the kitchen for when I’m getting my evening tea, I get the bottle on the go as well, leaving it in my bed nicely warming it for me until I’m ready to get in. Make a point of getting cosy loungewear, slippers and pyjamas- something that will instantly put you on “chill” mode.
Lots of low, warm lighting is an absolute essential for keeping you sane in the darker months. Why blue-tone bulbs exist I have yet to understand: if you have any within your home throw them out immediately. If you sit in your living room with one naked bulb gleaming over your head like aliens are about to descend, this might be one reason why you have been struggling lately. Use that light when you’re trying to find something, sure, but they are absolutely not for chill time in my opinion. Arrange low wattage bulb lamps around your space, and position them to suit how you use your space; do you need a general glow here, do you need task lighting there, you get the picture.
Plants are major in the interiors world right now: specifically the Skandi – jungle variety. I’ve never been very good at either a) understanding how to position plants in the home, or b) keeping them alive. But after getting a humble succulent and enjoying seeing it flourish every day I think I finally understand the importance of having living plants in your space. They say that people who suffer from mental health problems benefit hugely from being around animals and nature, but I’m of the opinion that everybody could benefit from this. Its medicine on the most basic of levels, right?
So go crazy with potted plants and the macramé revival, join a cacti subscription, buy potted herbs for your kitchen or all of the above. And lets not forget the winter foliage. Remember this isn’t about pretending it isn’t winter out there; it’s about embracing it.
Try bringing in fir tree cuttings and pine cones. The smell is so festive and the needles so lusciously glossy and green, I absolutely love the sight and smell of it all – and it can stay up long after the Christmas decorations have come down.
NB: Faux plants don’t come in to this category. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about faux blooms personally, although I know genius Abigail Ahern is making great strides in this area. I just don’t think that they can improve your sense of wellbeing during the nature-starved months. Because they are not, you know, alive (and are apparently terribly bad feng sui).
Be it mid-week or a lazy Sunday bathroom session, do this on your own, with your partner, or little ones – whatever means that you can make it happen. Make the time for yourself / selves at least once a week and – this bit is crucial – cultivate this as an activity, not a chore. For best results I recommend:
1 x Facemask – To make you look and feel revived and refreshed
1 x Body brush – To tackle those dry wintery limbs and increase your circulation
1 x Leave-in hair treatment – To rescue your hair from the effects of cold weather and central heating, and because you’re worth it, duh.
1 x Steaming hot bath
1 x Set of fluffy pyjamas waiting for you on the radiator
Follow your pamper sesh with plenty of beauty sleep. We’re doing hibernation season properly remember? Stock up on good reads and movies, and if you want to go to bed at 7:30pm, listen to your body. You are more likely to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another day (and let’s hope that its a snow day, huh).
Repeat: as needed.
And finally, if you think to yourself ‘oh its so dark and its so cold and oh isn’t it horrible outside’ then it probably will be. I’m a believer in self-prophesising thought, so this type of mantra has a subtle but damaging effect that slowly wears you down as it gets darker and colder. Try to see the beauty in all weathers. I can hear you scoffing already, but hear me out. I cycle to work every day. Sometimes I get hailed on, pissed on, bird shat on, mud up to my elbows, blown sideways, almost end up in the canal – that’s my commute. When I’m indoors I can dread making that journey, but once I’m out, its often bright, refreshing, and rather beautiful. Sometimes I’m even lucky enough to see kingfishers and herons on my journey which is really special, but even for you urban folk, if you open your eyes, its always a nice day. OK, 99% of the time, but you get what I’m saying. It’s all a state of mind and the good news is you decide what that is. When I’m sitting on my bike stuck in traffic whilst getting hailed on I could be scowling and hating myself, or I could laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of my current situation, and remember that it’s nothing that a nice hot bath wont fix once I get home.
This might all sound like a lot of hygge guff to you, but ask yourself – have you been waking up feeling gloomy this season? Have your energy levels abandoned you? Do you feel all doom and gloom every time you look out the window now that it’s January? Well if so then maybe you should consider trying at least one or two of the things on my list and let me know how you get on with them. I think people expect so much of themselves at this time of year; they think they need to be bursting with energy and new years’ resolutions but this is the thing: Winter aint over yet. You can deal with all your big plans come Spring when the clocks change and you’re ready to resurface. Until then, pass the chocolate…