January 23rd 2017.
Somewhere between mid and late January it shows its face, a Monday named ‘Blue Monday’. A day which supposedly marks the most depressing day of the year. We are done with the grey weather, suffer from a financial dip, lack motivation and have thrown our resolutions overboard. The formula for marking the most depressing day of the year is everything but scientific but something (experience and intuition) tells me there is a little hint of truth in it.
I was born at one of the most sunlit places this planet offers, the tropical island of Curacao. I grew up with a constant temperature of 30 degrees Celsius and walked around barefoot for the first four years of my life. January was no different from July. When we moved to The Netherlands, and I entered puberty, something changed. Winter, mainly the last few months of the season, got a bit more though. The wet, cold and grey weather impacted my mood. I was cold, passive, dull and grumpy. I continued suffering from this mild case of winter dip during my early twenties.
Here and Now
Things changed dramatically when I stopped battling winter and let myself be carried by her. Instead of stubbornly insisting on eating summery salads I started to embrace pumpkin soup and stews. I started eating seasonally. Instead of wearing crop tops and barely-there shirts at all costs, I started wrapping myself in wool. I kept myself warm and dry. Instead of dreaming about, and fleeing to, tropical destinations I learned to appreciate the here and now. I saw the unique beauty of the freeze, the darkness and the turning inward: of everything winter offers. I used that time to do a bit of ‘soul searching’ and read books by candlelight. I did not just let myself be carried by the winter. Spring, summer and autumn each had their own meaning, character and quality. I have been winter-blues-free for over 10 years and, lo and behold, I even look forward to the dark now. I am literally on the balcony cheering when snow falls. A Caribbean girl? Yes a Caribbean girl. One thing I know for sure. If this is ‘for me’ then there’s hope for everyone!
Below I share suggestions that will help you embrace winter and say bye bye to blues.
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This article is an excerpt and translation of a piece I did for Happinez Magazine. The Dutch article can be read HERE.
One of the things that has helped me most is totally free. I head outside every day, for about 90 minutes, no matter the weather. I spend time in the green when it rains, shines and snows. I take a stroll in the park or woods. The cool air refreshes my mind and walking allows emotions, experiences and thoughts to fall into place. A misty forest proves to be magical, not dreary. Raindrops are no nuisance, but as beautiful as diamonds when held by a spider web. By spending sufficient time outside, daily, I connect to the season. I see the subtile difference, that turns late autumn into winter. And I see nature change when days lengthen. It teaches me that everything changes constantly, although the grey and dark seem everlasting. Nothing is eternal. Everything has its time.
Before I preferred to stay indoors, next to the heater. It was cold out and my hands and feet were already freezing. This is how a vicious circle was born.
It sounds ever so logical but in reality it does not always happen. When I was growing up, short jackets, low-rise jeans and invisible socks were hip. Rain suits were for losers. ‘No pain, no gain’ was the creed. No wonder I was cold!
I wear a silk undershirt now, always. My socks are big, thick and warm. I love layering and sport a knee length wool coat. I am the proud owner of a raincoat and outdoor boots. I bought my gloves in Chicago, when it was -25 degreed Celsius. I rub my body with sesame oil. It has a warming and nourishing effect. I do not only make sure warmth surrounds me. I also stay warm within. I eat porridge, soup, mash and stews, from seasonal produce. I use warming spices like ginger, cloves and cinnamon. I drink warm chocolate mylk, coffee and herbal teas. I learned: only when I give myself warmth can I truly embrace the cold.
3.Live with the season.
Winter symbolizes rest, reflection and contemplation. This is what nature shows us. The trees are barren and the land is arid. Growth has seemingly paused. But hidden below the surface of the earth there are seeds, patiently awaiting spring. Waiting for warmer weather that has them sprout and turn into full-grown plants. The only thing we have to do is use nature as our guide.
Slow down your pace. Take time for YOU, and all that makes your mind, body and heart stir. Let ideas and plans blossom subcutaneously, but practice patience. Add some light to the dark and bathe your home in candlelight. Invite friends, sit at the hearth and enjoy a steaming homemade meal. Wear house shoes and big sweaters. Read inspiring books that invoke the spirit of winter. Cook seasonally, with all that grows at this very moment. Before I had the tendency to live in the future or the past. This rarely happens now, courtesy of seasonal living. By eating what is available now, I connect to the present moment. And when the NOW is interesting and appealing, than that’s all you want. You forget the rest. When winter arrives, I live winter. Anytime and anyplace else becomes trivial.
Kyra’s reads and sees for winter
1.Hygge, the Danish art of Living Well. Hygge is a beautiful book by Louisa Thomsen Brits. It inspires to manifest cosy and dive deep into the spirit of winter.
2.Frozen Planet: the last frontier. This episode of Frozen Planet, similar to Earth, speaks about men who build lives in the coldest of conditions.
3.This timelapse video shows the sheer beauty of Finnish winter.
Photos and text (c) (copyright) kyra. at kyra’s kitchen.