The winter can be a trying time – the short days, the cold weather and rain, and for some the loneliness and isolation can add up to a very difficult season. Some people even suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – a form of clinically recognised depression that’s brought on by the challenges of the season. There are lots of different ways to face the challenges of this difficult season, but one that’s become popular recently is to think more like someone in one of the Nordic countries, that suffer even longer, darker winters than we do. People in those countries cope with their long winters not by focusing on the opportunities lost when the summer retreats, but the unique opportunities in winter that brings with it. This helps you feel less like your world has shrunk around you.
Today we’re taking a look at some of those unique opportunities in winter to help you plan for the upcoming winter, and feel more hopefully for the spring that’s on the other side of it.
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Cold, dark evenings lend themselves to some hobbies: crafting, for example, is particularly popular at this time of year. Instead of feeling depressed at the things you can’t do, think of those winter nights as a way to spend time productively mastering a new skill.
Scrapbooking can help you reflect on happy summer memories, for example, while getting to work with a cross stitch set could be a great way to make personalised Christmas presents for your friends and family. Knitting is a perennially popular pastime for the autumn and winter, and you can use it to make scarves, gloves and hats to keep you and your friends warm!
Connecting with the seasons is a good way to maintain your mental health during difficult times – you appreciate each one for what it is, while understanding that it will pass, to be succeeded by others in the future. Cooking is a great way to connect yourself to the seasons – look for seasonal ingredients, recipes that connect to traditional feasts and festivals, and you’ll find plenty of fresh opportunities in winter.
Bad weather is no reason to give up on the great outdoors. There is evidence that spending time in the natural world has a positive effect on mental health, and leaning into the wintry conditions rather than rejecting them can lead to new experiences when you’re walking outside. Invest in warm coats and scarves, bring thermoses of hot coffee or soup with you, and do some research so you can identify some of the animals and plants that are still thriving even through the winter. If you commit to winter walks, you’ll also be among the first to spot the signs of the oncoming spring.
opportunities in winter