Daylight hours are so very short right now. It seems like one of us will go down to the barn to let the chickens out in the morning when the sun has finally risen and it's time to go to work, then we turn around, go back down at dusk to close them in for the night. Chickens' egg-laying is partially regulated by their pineal gland and daylight hours, so their egg-laying slows down at this time of year, along with so many other things in nature. And yet somehow, we funny humans try to convince ourselves that we aren't affected by it - we just keep on going with our electric lights and screens and heaters, eating produce grown on another continent to try to keep everything the same all year round.
There is such comfort to me in doing what I can to really embrace the seasons. It reminds me of my place in the grand scheme of things, and how little I really have control over. Of course, this is real life - kids still need to be fed, work needs to be done, lessons need to be attended, and not every day is a perfect hygge experience - some days just feel short and dark. There are some small ways to embrace the darkness and winter that might just make it a bit more bearable, though. I've been working on this for a decade, I just realized, and somehow that makes me feel like I just might have something worthwhile to share. I am writing this list as a reminder to myself as much as anything - I think I need this prescription too, especially at this time of year. Once I've watched the last Gilmore Girls new episode (no spoilers! I thought the third one was weak, though) I promise I will do something non-netflix-watching most evenings this month.
- Make it cozy. What are you doing, and how can it be cozy-fied? Cleaning your inbox? Driving your car? Wrapping gifts? Shopping for gifts? You can cozy-fy ANYTHING. Make a cup of tea to drink while you're cleaning your inbox. Driving? Use a few drops of essential oil in your car (cinnamon or orange or something seasonal - if you don't have a car diffuser or clay ornament (which you can very inexpensively make for yourself and all of your friends from air-dry clay) you can put a few drops on a cotton ball by the air vent. Wrapping gifts? Employ the tea tactic and add a candle or two (but not too close to the wrapping paper). I use beeswax candles all winter - they're my favourite. They have the loveliest sweet soft scent, burn cleanly, and don't overpower food if you're burning them at a meal. The only other candles I burn are TNT candles made here in Nova Scotia - Spiced Orange is nice. Shopping for gifts? If you're not buying online, with your cup of tea and cozy candles nearby, and you're going from store to store, plan it out with a detailed list (which can also be helpful for your budget) and plan a tea break or meal so you're not all shaky and exhausted.
- Special seasonal treats. Is eggnog your jam? Candy Cane ice cream (YES, please!)? I tend to feel crummy when I indulge too much, so making an event of the special things while on the whole eating food that I know makes me feel good is the way to go. Pomegranates and clementines are perfect because they're both healthy AND seasonal treats. Be intentional about it and really savour the special-ness of it.
- Move your body. Yoga with Adriene, twinkle lights, a candle, and coffee or tea brewing. Or a walk, bundled up against the chill. Or just a bit of time outside puttering around the yard - you'll feel better, guaranteed.
- Warm socks! Thanks to my mother-in-law, I now know that Merino wool socks are amazing. Costco sells the ones that I wear (because she gives them to me) - they breathe so that your feet don't get damp and cold and they're super warm and lovely. Really - they have been a game-changer. No more immediate sock change needed as soon as I come home from work!
- After the kids are in bed, instead of watching something on Netflix every night (soooo tempting, I know!) maybe grab that book club book, and settle in with it, a cup of tea or hot cocoa (about 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp cocoa powder in a mug, add a splash of milk and use a spoon to mix, then top with hot water) and you're snug as a big. Lighting makes a difference - have a few smaller lamps on rather than one bright overhead one. Bonus points for a lap cat and a soft blanket. Super extra bonus points for fairy lights. (These ones are on sale at Canadian Tire and I love mine, year round.)
- A project! If you feel better when you have something to work on, start something new to focus on. Cheesemaking? Conquering the popover? Knitting? Or all of the things that need to be done for Christmas - but instead of rushing through to get them done, make them events! (I am emphatically talking to myself here.)
- Take your vitamin D and fish oil capsules to keep your skin happy, and use liberal amounts of hand balm (equal parts beeswax, coconut oil, and olive oil, melted together and poured into a container or mold) or lotion. (check out this post from awhile back for some more deep-winter tips).
- Treat your senses. Soak in this time of year. Evergreen branches, clementines being peeled, cinnamon oil in a diffuser or a few drops on a cotton ball in the vacuum cleaner or in a jar in the kitchen. A soft sweater. Baking. An audio book narrated by someone whose voice you enjoy. Think warming, comforting, calming, and quiet.
- If you're looking for some screen-time cozy, search "cozy" on Pinterest. Or on YouTube, search for Martha Stewart Christmas to find old gems like this one. Equal parts hilarious, inspiring, and definitely cozy. You're welcome.
- A walk in the woods on a weekend morning. With warm mittens, a thermos of tea, preferably. (I'm going to try to fit this one in this weekend.)
Bring on the cozy!