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A Lifestyle Lesson for Winter

I grew up in a place literally known as The Frozen Tundra, surrounded by snow-covered farmland, and without a lot of sunshine between the months of November and April. You’d think that 20+ years in a place like this would give me “thick skin” or some kind of superhero tolerance for the cold.

But unless I’m skiing down slopes, being in the cold just brings me down.

I spend winter days feeling apathetic and unmotivated, wanting to be in bed by 4:30, and feeling very resistant to leaving that same bed the next morning. I miss the humidity. I miss feeling fresh air on my skin. And above all, I miss the sunshine.

Some people call this experience SAD - seasonal affective disorder.

Call it what you want, I think it’s a very normal, natural reaction to being locked up in darkness for months at a time.

This is exactly why I moved south of the Mason Dixon line and only summer up north. At 36, I’m already a very happy snow bird.

But for now, I find myself back in the frozen tundra to celebrate the holidays with this dear family of mine that refuses to fly south.

To say the least, I am not good at winter. I never have been, never will be, and quite frankly never wanna be. Or at least, that’s what I used to think.

I used to believe that my aversion to the cold somehow made me weak or that I lacked the formidable character needed to weather the winter months.

At least, these are the things I’ve been told by the mutants that someone manage to make their way through the hellacious months of sleet and snow.

(JK - I love you, my midwestern mutants 🖤).

But nowadays, I think I have a few things right.

No matter where you are or how accustomed to the cold you might be, here are a few tried and true practices that get me through.

SEE: Know who you are.

In fact, it might be more accurate to say Know WHAT you are.

I am not a snow leopard. I am a damn mermaid.

My body is best toasty. My mind is happiest in the sunshine. And my relationships thrive when I get a healthy dose of salt water every day.

It’s taken me a long time to understand how my human works, and this is largely due to the fact that I grew up surrounded by snow leopards who prefer their thermostats set in the sixties. While my leopard family is the absolute best, I am not a leopard.

Recognizing myself as the elven, fairy, mermaid I am overcomes half the battle I have with winter because I stop pressuring myself to be a snow leopard!

This naturally gives me permission to stop doing all the things a snow leopard might do.

So what are you?

A dolphin? A gnome? A polar bear? A muskrat? A hobbit? A deer? A panther? A sprite? An elephant? A gazelle?

Know your energy and you’ll know what you need.

STOP: Don’t do all the things.

If you happen to not be a snow leopard (or even if you are), winter is not a time to be super productive. Humans don’t have the fur coats of woodland cats or the heat-retaining brown fat of bears.

If left naked in the middle of winter, we would die.

We can’t press through the winter months ignoring the fact that weather is a legitimate life threat.

Instead, we need to recalibrate, slow down, and adjust ourselves to the lower temperatures and levels of light.

Lower your standards. Let things go. Allow yourself to actually enter into a mini-hibernation for a bit.

Despite all our technology, we are earthly beings with earthly rhythms and during the winter time, the rhythm is very clear: slow down, shut in, and cozy up.

On that note…

START: Get cozy.

Like, pro-level cozy.

Even though the weather outside may be harsh, allow yourself to soften.

Less sunlight and lower temperatures bring opportunities to nestle in with bulky blankets, warm fires, squishy socks, and the soft glow of twinkle lights.

You likely know what this is called: hygge (pronounced hoog-ah).

Hygge is a Danish word and it’s likely why they are some of the happiest people on the planet. They know how to cozy the shit out of anything.

Winter is not meant to be like every other time of the year. We’re supposed to eat root vegetables, drink warm tea, sip hot soup, and for the love of god - rest!

Here are ten more ayurvedic practices for winter that might help.

So if you give yourself permission to do anything this time of year, I hope that it is to honor whoever/whatever you are in the winter, to move at a slower pace, and to cuddle up with the coziness these dark months beckon us to create.

Meanwhile, you can find me right here. Sitting next to the fire on a fluffy poof of blankets wafting humidifier air and gazing at our emerald Christmas tree.


MAGIC MANTRA: I slow down just like the sun.

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