I’m writing this by the fireside, I’m wrapped up, wearing my almost-pyjamas (hint: check out what to wear all day instead of pyjamas.) It’s a grey day, too dark even to go outside properly yet. But when the bad weather, dark-days-doldrums kick in, I have an antidote. And I’d like to share it with you here…
I used to love winter, it was the time of year when I finally felt like I fit in. The illnesses I was struggling with meant that I spent most of my time tucked up in bed and was often wearing earplugs (with ear muffs over them for stylish camouflage), and lots of layers to keep my sore, tired bones warm. Naturally, winter was when my lifestyle was the one everyone wanted to follow. In the coldest times, everyone yearns to be warm in bed or resting in an armchair by the fire.
But winter was also the time when the grey, dim days seemed to stretch forever. It never got light, it seemed, until the drear days blended into one another and I lived in a dark world – rising in darkness, going to bed in the dark, and my whole world artificially lit in between.
Winter also tends to bring more coughs and colds, and infection is something I do my best to avoid. Having had two pretty difficult lung infections in previous winters, I was very nervous about this winter. Summer felt bittersweet as each warm, easy, sunshiny day felt like another day closer to the coldest times.
So I decided to flip that script, and shift my fear, I set myself a challenge. I made it my mission to learn to LOVE winter. My tools? A manifesto, a winter love list and allies to adore the cold days with me.
All through the summer, I put together a list of wonderful things about winter. Everything I could look forward to. I got ready, gathered my kit for a sustained winter joy campaign. I’m very serious about this, I was ordering ski wear on eBay in August! But now I have warm clothes, and a list of joyful smiling-worthy winter delights I’d love to share with you here.
Winter contains so much magic. A manifesto can help us find it.
The manifesto is your mission, your commitment to the challenge of cold-weather smiles and your guide of how to get them.
Simply fill in the prompts below and post it somewhere you can see it. If you’d like, share on social media #turntrailblazer
My Winter Manifesto
Today I commit to celebrating all the benefits of each day, whatever the weather.
I believe in myself, and know that my ________, ________ and________ are always with me.
Days are made bright by my actions and the three things I know can always lift my spirits are
Winter is a beautiful season, my favourite parts are _________, _________ but most especially _________.
I will take this season as an opportunity to _____________. Always remembering that _____________.
I look forward to each day and just like winter, I am magical!
Build Your Winter Love List
What do you love about winter? At the beginning, it can be hard to think of anything, but I’m sure if you turn your mind toward this question some thoughts will arise.
Can you begin with a winter free-write? Simply start by writing everything you feel about winter. The idea with a free-write is just to keep the pencil moving/your fingers typing/dictaphone speaking. When you have finished, take a break and then you can come back to what you’ve written. Grab a highlighter, read through, pull out any ideas (or seeds of ideas) buried in your words. What does winter joy look like for you?
I’m sharing my winter love list below for inspiration and fun.
Grace’s Winter Love List
Comfort at Home
Take the bad weather of winter as an opportunity to make the place you spend your time as lovely as possible. It can often be the case that when we live with illness we spend so much time focusing on surviving we can miss out on opportunities for the icing of life; pretty clothing, gorgeous home-wares, art which moves us. It’s also a common occurrence that our homes become filled with disability aids. These can be functional and beautiful but when they are not, it is hard. Can you make beautiful your equipment (check out my article here for tips and tricks)? And check in, does your home reflect you?
– Burning gorgeous candles – I can’t wait to try these Harry Potter scented candles
– Double duvet days – the ultimate luxury. A high-tog duvet over and under you, for total cwtchy comfort
– Decorating the house for festivities. I adore hanging holly over all the paintings, and homemade advent calendars!
– Planning the garden, get the seed catalogues out. Read Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville West for inspiration
– Decorating the chimney-piece with squash and pumpkin boxes from Riverford Organic Farms and then eating them!
Winter is a beautiful time to turn inwards and nourish our bodies. So often it can seem the world is moving so fast, that everyone wants to do more, go more, see more, be more.
Winter is a great leveller. It slows us down to the human pace of our bodies, we haven’t subjugated nature, and we all bow when the wind blows. This relentless pace of life can be especially difficult for those with chronic illness as the fast pace can be far beyond us. Yet in winter the world slows down, people walk at our pace through the rain and wind.
Can you draw on your wisdom and give your body what it needs in the cold times? Nourish yourself with what feeds your soul and your body. Take the rest needed and just be.
– Making warm and nourishing foods like black bean pot, sweet potato soup with vanilla, smokey tomato lentil stew with spinach and olives and scrummy split pea soup
– Drinking hot gingerbread rooibos tea with a good book
– Supercharged vanilla porridge
– Pickling and preserving vegetables
– Gingerbread – fresh and warm from the dehydrator
– Enjoying blood oranges in season
– Making kale chips
– Mixed nuts in their shells and clementines at Christmas
– Making up festive hampers of homemade goodies
With little to gaze at in the garden and fuel prices rising, winter boredom can set in and bring a reactive depression with it. However, I believe proactive plans can be made to prevent this occurrence. Can you begin by thinking what you might like to do, what you enjoy – like reading, movement, socialising, warmth, excitement etc?
Then mind shower activities that can fill these roles, what can be done around reading, for example? Perhaps a book club, a visit to a rare book shop, reading aloud for the Gutenberg Project etc.
Next, look at anything that might be preventing you from enjoying these activities and find ways to circumnavigate the winter-induced issue. It could be that you get so much pain in the cold that traveling to a bookshop would be a punishment rather than a joy – but great quality thermal hiking clothes might keep you warm enough to travel (and if so, eBay may be your friend here).
– Going to the spa or swimming pool and being in warm water when it’s cold outside
– Camping out in the sitting room, make a bed or tent on the floor and tell stories
– Listening to favourite audiobooks
– Cuddling up with the dogs
– Festive music on the radio
– Grey days are good photography days:
“Cloudy grey days can produce surprisingly beautiful results because the clouds act like a diffuser around the sun, dispersing wonderfully even light across your scene and minimising the risks of harsh shadows and hot spots.” – Instant Love by Jen Altman, Susannah Conway, Amanda Gilligan
I don’t know about you, but accountability and support count for a lot with me. I am writing about this because to love winter I need allies, and I’d like to invite you to join me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article let me know by posting on social media with the hashtag #turntrailblazer and let’s love winter together!
If you’re looking to have a care kit to help you on your way this winter, check out the Original Healing Box, complete with super-soft warming bamboo socks (perfect for this time of year), luscious lip balm, a beautiful journals and more.
*** Originally published in The Pillow Fort Magazine.
Grace Quantock is an award-winning international wellness expert, coach, author, motivational speaker, certified Reiki master and spiritual response therapy practitioner. She is the founder of Healing Boxes CIC and The Phoenix Fire Academy. Currently living – and thriving – with often debilitating illness, she is the real deal and knows, firsthand, the emotional and physical roller coaster that accompanies diagnosis and life struggle. Currently, a resident of Wales, Grace loves reading, gardening and early mornings. She firmly believes that life is meant to be celebrated, and has made it her mission to help others do just that …joyfully and on their own terms. You can follow Grace on Twitter.
Image courtesy of Brigitte Tohm.