Survival Guide For Cold, Dark Winters

Survival Guide For Cold, Dark Winters
Via DeviantArt

   I don't know about you, but I always get winter blues at the beginning of each year. Christmas decorations have been taken down, the New Years party memories are starting to fade, and there is nothing to look forward to except for spring which takes ages to come and is always colder and rainier than I'd like it to be. Too few sunlight and too much time spent indoors take it's physical and mental toll on me.
   This year I decided to be proactive and not succumb to the winter blues which knock me down at this time of the year. Here are my best tips on fighting the winter blues:

Hot water bottles

    If you get chilly easily, these can be real life savers. I love to sleep with one, and often have one on my lap when I'm at the computer. Bonus points if it has a cute woolen cover!

St. John's Wort

      This herb is a great mood-lifter and is often prescribed in Germany for treating mild to medium depression; and has been proven to be effective. This year I have started taking in in tablet form in the beginning of winter (remember that it takes a couple of weeks to work). It raises light sensitivity so it is not recommended in summer, but perfect for winter! I get it in the drugstores.
     PS -- please do your research first and check if there are any counter-indications. For example the Wikipedia page states that St. John's Wort should not be taken by women on contraceptives.

Self-tanning lotion:

      This winter I am using self-tanning lotion in place of body moisturiser every few days. A light golden glow on my skin makes it seem that the days when I was prancing in sundresser at a lakeside are not so long ago. I recommend the one from Lavera.

Get a real, proper winter coat. And boots.

        A toasty weatherproof coat is a must for anyone living in a cooler climate. Winters seem to be very mild lately due to global warming, but when the temperatures drop to -20°C for a few days, or when the wind picks up, I am really really thankful for my warmest coat. I really recommend one that ends mid-thigh or at the knees, with a hood -- a hood keeps you much warmer than any cap every will. I had a coat with polyester filling for ages and now got a down coat from Land's End (got it at a swap website) and am amazed at how warm it is. Also, I love Land's End coats are sturdy enough for outdoorsy activities, while looking really good (for a puffer coat). Here is a great guide for choosing a stylish puffer coat.
      You also need to have one pair of shoes that are snow-proof and have a thick enough sole to isolate you from the frozen ground. I also highly recommend isolating shoe inserts for extra warmth! Plus points if you also have warm, thick socks.

Stay hydrated

    We often forget to drink enough water when it gets cold. I noticed myself getting quite dehydrated this winter, which means I got headaches, and am trying hard to drink enough. Dehydration can also lead to sluggishness, dry skin and also a disoriented feeling. Some ways to remember to drink enough: have a water jug at your desk. Drink a glass of water before drinking a cup of tea or coffee. Wear eight bracelets on your wrist and take off one every time you drink a glass of water or a cup of tea.

Winter Teas

   These really comfort me when it'd cold and dark. I love very spicy Ginger tea that my Chinese friend got me addicted to; and I also drink a lot of Yogi teas (all the spicy tastes like Chai or Mexican Chilli). I also love thyme + ginger tea to which I add a bit of lemon juice and honey when it isn't hot anymore.

Enjoy seasonal stuff

    Winter does have its upsides. When else can you drink hot wine, throw snowballs, cuddle without sweating or (for those of you far from the equator) enjoy candlelight? Make apples with cinnamon, take a walk just to see the Christmas decorations or the first snow, The outdoors will not be calling you, so you have more time for crafting or other hobbies.


   Exercise really helps to lift the mood, as you have probably heard a thousand times. Well, it's true. Get your butt to the gym, join a fitness class, workout to Bodyrock videos at home or take a long, brisk walk -- it's up to you.

Wear colour

   A Finnish friend told me that she loves to wear vibrant light blues and pinks in the dark Finnish winter, and that people always turn to look at her and then they smile. The dark and dreary winter makes the people want to wear dark and dreary clothing, and then you have grey and brown streets full of people wearing grey and brown and black clothes... It's time to put an end to that! Winter coats in cheerful colours are really hard to find, but I love wearing caps, scarves and gloves in cheerful, vibrant shades -- like pumpkin yellow or red or turquoise.

Dawn-simulating clock

   These are amazing for those having a hard time waking up because of the darkness! A dawn-simulating clock starts getting brighter around half an hour before it rings, and that prepares the body for waking up. The result is that you wake more lightly. Do read reviews before buying to make sure that the clock is bright enough. I highly recommend getting a radio-controlled one, and it's nice if it has nature tones (seriously, waking up to birds or running water is way nicer than to the typical alarm beeps).

Make your home cozy

    Light candles, get a warm and cozy throw, add a bright pillow colour and maybe a flowering plant. I recommend making a home-warming ritual every time you come home in the evening / it gets dark -- light some candles, play some nice music and make it smell nice with essential oils (I recommend orange, grapefruit, or cinnamon, or anything fir / pine).

Get outdoors

   Sometimes all you need it a bit of daylight and movement. Go for a long walk, go tobogganing, or a ski weekend.

Get away

   If your winter blues are really bad, consider taking a long weekend off and flying somewhere sunny. Yes, this suggestion is pricier than others, but sometimes it makes more sense to splurge a bit and come back energised and productive, then to mope around depressed for weeks. Personally, travelling recharges me in crazy ways -- I am healthier, happier and more productive after a trip, even a short one.
   There are several flight search engines that don't make you choose a destination, so try looking for warmer places within your budget. Also, I recommend you try Couchsurfing -- I really loved it, its way more than just a way to save money.

Make a winter survival kit

    I have written about making one here. I will get to open mine next month, and am quite excited about it because I forgot what's in there!

   Finally, here are my tips on winter skin care and winter hair care.

    I'd love to know how you deal with winter blues. If you have any tried-and-tested tips, do share them.

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