I grew up in Minnesota and recently moved back, now a mom with young children of my own. And we are in the thick of the cold winter season here! I love the snow and winter. It is beautiful and comes with so many fun things to do, like sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, building snowmen and making snow angels.
But even I, one of those crazy people who likes cold weather, can sometimes feel the drudgery of long nights and short days, staying indoors more, and the overall feeling of lower energy and mood, commonly known as the "winter blues". I know this affects some people deeply, and it is not an easy place to be. Typical things that can counter these feelings and help us bring more sunshine and energy into our life during the darker, colder winter days are exercise, a good diet, trying to be social, finding ways to enjoy the outdoors in wintertime, etc. These are good, healthy things to do and can make a big difference.
What I want to do today is touch on another aspect of coping with wintertime, and that is embracing the "hibernation" aspect of this time of year.
OUR HUMAN NEED TO REST AND RECUPERATE
I remember reading an article on Facebook a few years ago that helped me reframe my perspective on the dark and cold days of winter, and it's really stuck with me. This article proposed the idea that humans can take a cue from our fellow mammals and adopt an attitude of "hibernation" during the winter. This doesn't mean we need to store up lots of fat and then sleep off the whole winter, of course. But if you find yourself wanting to sleep a little more, eat warm, filling, and comforting foods, and hole up inside your home with a cozy blanket and book instead of being out and about, then you should embrace that! Mild feelings of "winter blues" are likely our body's way of signaling to us that we need to take some time to rest and recoup, physically, mentally, and emotionally--recharge our batteries, so to speak.
This doesn't mean we should become a hermit all winter long. I'm a strong believer that making time for things that energize you-- getting together with friends, going out dancing, keeping your Christmas lights on for a little extra light during these dark months-- are good things to do to give your mood and energy a boost. Also, making an effort to get some fresh air and spend some time outdoors makes a big difference during the wintertime! But I have also come to believe that it's perfectly acceptable, and even healthy, to embrace the desire to slow down, curl up, and give ourselves a little more rest during this season.
In Denmark and other Nordic countries that have a long, dark cold season, they thrive this time of year with a spirit and lifestyle of hygge. Hygge is "a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment" (source). For more ideas on hygge, check out our series on hygge and how to incorporate it into your life. To me, an attitude of hygge during the winter and the concept of "human hibernation" are more or less the same thing. And it's something that us busy and overwhelmed human beings need a little more of.
So, what does this have to do with reading? Well, I don't know about you, but one of my favorite ways to slow down and give myself a little break is cuddling up with a book. When I think of wintertime, I picture being curled up underneath a cozy blanket, perhaps by a fireplace or with candles lit nearby, sipping a mug of cocoa or tea and enjoying a good book. Now if that isn't the epitome of hygge or slowing down and giving yourself a rest, I don't know what is!
See this article for more information on beating winter blues, and these articles on the idea of human hibernation:
I hope this post got you thinking about this cold, long, quiet time of year a little bit differently, and that you give yourself permission to slow down, rest a little more, and nourish your mind, body, and spirit. And if you're in need of a sweet romance novel to curl up with, we've got you covered!