The lights come down, Christmas trees lay bare on the curb, kids are back in school and you’re nursing a New Year’s hangover on your first day back to work. And so begins the limbo betwixt January 2nd and April Fools. Skiers rejoice while the rest of us count down the days until the sun hasn’t set before we leave the office. But does it have to be this way? Is Seasonal Affective Disorder really that impactful? Do we embrace the cozy scenes of winter or do we distract ourselves with Superbowl Sunday and March Madness until the sun returns? It seems everyone has their own traditional coping mechanisms…
It turns out that Seasonal Affective Disorder is experienced by 10 million Americans while mild SAD (‘winter blues’) are experienced by up to 65 million Americans. The reduction in hours of sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels, affecting mood, appetite, sleep, and energy. So, it would seem that the neighborhood cookie swap is not entirely to blame for the holiday weight gain. To combat this, physicians suggest exercising regularly, taking vitamin D supplements, or even investing in a light therapy lamp.
Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper has a different approach to dealing with the winter blues. In her publication, The Magnolia Journal, she advises readers to ‘lean in’ to winter in all its glory – put a basket of slippers by the door, pull out candles and throw blankets from storage, set up a puzzle table and work on it a little bit each day. The mom of five uses the winter season to spend time with friends and family, cooking, talking, and laughing before chaotic summers return. We’d suggest Pinterest-ing some DIY projects, maybe make your own wreath with leftover Christmas tree branches or experiment with your own hot-toddy recipe.
Ever heard of hygge? Pronounced [hyoo-guh], it is derived from an Old Norse word meaning ‘embrace.’ Today, the word describes the Danish concept of coziness and warmth during their six-month winter! In the United States, hygge is a popular, Nordic-inspired interior design concept, defined by a white/beige/gray color palette, wood accents, and cozy elements like throw blankets and faux-fur throw pillows. You can ‘hygge’ your home with things you probably already have – try fashioning pine/birch from the backyard into decorative accents around the house or de-cluttering the surfaces of your coffee tables and countertops in favor of simplistic centerpieces. For those with loose purse strings, consider purchasing chunky wool throw blankets or swapping out curtains or rugs in favor of a neutral color scheme. Hygge is all about living as minimally as possible, and in harmony with nature.
Why not throw a winter bonfire? Burn old Christmas trees, wreaths, or cardboard boxes while roasting marshmallows with friends. Maybe debut that new hot toddy recipe you’ve been working on? Or throw a batch of hot cider or hot chocolate into the crock pot. Digging a fire pit in the snow beats digging one in the dirt – and makes your fire much safer to boot! Throw down a couple of tarps and set out bins filled with cozy blankets and pillows for your guests. If you’re really feeling festive, try breaking out a tray of copper mugs or popping some kettle corn over your winter bonfire and enjoy!
The point is, there is warmth to be had during the stretch of winter between New Year’s and April – maybe even more so than in the warmer months. From cozy interiors to memorable evenings with friends and family sharing crafts and recipes, or just curling up with that book that’s been sitting half-read on your nightstand… these quiet moments won’t be here for long, here’s hoping we enjoy them as they wane into a boisterous spring.