“Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.”

― Katherine May, Wintering

In January, many of us find it can be a hard transition getting back into the routine of work, school and embracing “normal” life after the festive period. The days are short, the temperature is low, and spring feels far away. Often, we are bombarded with messages to seek out change and regeneration when what we need most, is to recharge, focus on our mental health and avidly seek out joy. Christmas is over for another year but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue some of its traditions. Recapture the comfort, magic and light it brings with it each and every December. With this in mind, we have some ideas to help improve your wellbeing by simply learning to embrace the winter.

Mood lighting

You’ve long packed away the decorations but you can’t get over how your home still looks a little dull and the lighting is stark. Sound familiar? Add some mood lighting to warm your home up and set a snug atmosphere to enjoy when you’re relaxing. Even better, it doesn’t have to be expensive. You could hang up some fairy lights or buy a new statement lamp from your local charity shop. You could also invest in some candles for a romantic vibe that won’t add to your electricity bill (just be sure to use them responsibly!).

Either way, adding a little extra light and cosiness to your space might help improve your mood until the evenings get lighter.

The Great Outdoors

Did you know getting outside can boost your mood and your energy levels as well as reduce the impact of seasonal affect disorder (SAD)?

Between Christmas and New Year, it’s a popular tradition to flock to open spaces for brisk winter walks with family, friends and pets. Not only is this great for your physical health, it also helps your mental health. Plus there are plenty of natural beauty spots which are perfect for exploring on foot throughout the year. Whether you walk, cycle or sit with a flask of tea and do some bird spotting, getting fresh air can make a difference. Alternatively, you don’t have to travel far. Sitting in your garden, on your balcony or wandering to your local park has all the same health benefits. Just make sure you take care in the winter by wearing appropriate footwear with plenty of grip in case the ground is slippery. Also keep an eye on the weather by signing up to receive ColdAlerts.

Keep in touch

December is a busy month. We often find ourselves with booked out weekends and an influx of post and phone calls from loved ones, only to go cold turkey in January and hear from no one. This can be particularly hard for those who are isolated or in need of company.

Age UK estimates that over a million older people go over a month without speaking to anyone, that’s including friends, family and neighbours. Lack of social contact can have a detrimental impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing. But it’s not just the older population. Loneliness can have a big impact on us all, so consider checking in with loved ones throughout the year – you might just make someone’s month!

It’s also important to keep in touch with others for your own wellbeing. We are still in a pandemic and meeting in person can be tricky, but there’s no reason you can’t pick up the phone, write a thoughtful letter or catch up over facetime. Having a strong support network can help us navigate stressors but also be there to help us celebrate our wins.

Get cosy (and stay warm!)

The Danish are good at prioritising cosiness and comfort. They even have a word for it: hygge. Hygge is a mood or approach to life where happiness and everyday joy is sought out. This philosophy is something we are great at embracing over the festive period but often gets abandoned when the new year rolls around. Luckily we have some ideas:

  • Nothing makes it harder to relax than feeling cold and worrying about money. Find out about the Warm Home Check service which offers advice and support to ensure you can stay warm and well for less!
  • Treat yourself to plenty of warm drinks. We recommend either a hot chocolate for a treat or a relaxing camomile tea. Both can be drunk in your favourite winter mug (think penguins instead of reindeers)
  • Layer your clothes and use blankets to help lock in all the warmth. The fluffier the blanket, the better!
  • Do all of the above: stay in touch with loved ones, seek out light in the dark moments and breathe in all the fresh air.

What are your favourite winter traditions? Let us know you plan to add a little sparkle into your life over the next couple of months.