I love the beach. More specifically, beaches in Hawaii, Bali, Greece, the Caribbean… I love the humid air, and how it curls my hair, the saturation of vibrant colors, the clear, blue water, the smell of salt, the sound of waves and wind, the flow of sundresses and light materials caressing my glowing tanned skin, wearing flowers tucked behind my ear.
…isn’t this article called “Surviving Winter”?!
Yes. Because I’m not at the beach right now. I’m instead watching big, sticky snowflakes fall outside the kitchen window, adding another layer to the already inches thick carpet from the time it snowed last week. I’m not yet able to be a snowbird who escapes the time of year that brings so many people down, so I’m finding ways to not just survive winter, but ways I can bring the things I love about the beach and warm weather to my daily life to try and thrive this winter.
Below are some of my tricks:
Take vitamin D3. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects millions, and typically peaks in January and February after so many months spent mostly indoors. Vitamin D3 is the type of vitamin D that your skin produces when exposed to UVB rays from the sun. Even if you can get outside for a walk everyday, taking vitamin D3 through winter gives your body the added boost it needs to help you feel better until you can get outside again more regularly. In terms of diet, vitamin D2 is plant based, and vitamin D3 is animal based. That being said, an increased amount of mushrooms (D2) in your diet is always a good idea, but vitamin D3 has a better dietary conversion rate and is therefore the better version to take via supplements.
The right music! When I’m at the beach, I love listening to island vibes with reggae undertones, so playing that sort of music helps bring me back to the same ease and groove I enjoy from listening to this style of music at the beach. My partner knows winter is hard on me, and how much I love the beach, so today, he put on a beach playlist for us to listen to while we ate breakfast and baked muffins. Music is so important in setting the mood whether it’s a movie soundtrack, or the soundtrack to your life. It can remain in the background and go mostly unnoticed, but is something that speaks to our subtle body, something that has a real, unconscious affect on our mood, and even deeper: our cells! What are your go-to good vibe songs or playlists?
Add indoor plants around your home or apartment. Living in a city, nature often isn’t super easily accessible. There are parks and of course the rivers that encapsulate Manhattan specifically (at least we have that, as I know some cities are land-locked), but there is a definite difference between nature that is naturally occurring and respected, and nature that acts as (an unnatural) replacement. NYC plants mostly male trees, so there’s a disproportionate amount of male to female, which causes higher pollen and allergy rates. Achoo! So, if it’s the connection to nature you’re missing, an easy solution is house plants, or even potted trees with larger, tropical looking leaves. They clean the air, allow you to see growth, take care of something, and remember the rhythm and cycles of life. Do you keep plants in your home? What are your favorites?
Flowers are another way to add some life and color to an otherwise cold, 50 shades of gray (just talking about variations of the color, here ;P ) winter. Most visible plantlife outside goes dormant and looks dead, most people lose some of the coloring in their skin, sporting paler complexions, most coats are black (at least the ones I see being worn), so buying flowers and setting vases of lively displays around your house adds a pop of color than can also add some pep in your step. Trader Joe’s sells small bouquets for $3.99, and with proper daily care they can last nearly two weeks! Which flower and/or color makes you happiest?
In the vein of color, the clothes you wear can also impact your mood! When it’s cold outside, I just want to cozy up in the warmest, oversized sweaters and sweatpants I can find (which for me, are also mostly black…black absorbs heat!). Add thick knit socks and a wool blanket, and I’m set. But for times when I need a little boost, and because I’m inside anyway, sometimes I’ll put on an outfit that I’d otherwise wear in the middle of summer. I’m talking about a sundress and kimono, or tank top and flowy pants. But this could be as simple as wearing magenta lipstick, or as extravagant as a bikini and flower crown. The colors brighten my “I’m-too-cold-to-move” mood, exuding radiance like a wearable rainbow, and the soft flow of materials makes me want to sway and glide like they do. What is your happy color? Do you have an outfit or piece of clothing that takes you to your happy place?
Lean into the good things about winter like the smell of crispness across your nose, the warmth of crackling fires in fireplaces, baking pumpkin pie, apple cinnamon muffins, and banana bread, roasting root vegetables in the oven, wearing scarves, or watching it snow. Even if you’re like me and don’t enjoy the colder months, finding the things you do enjoy and really highlighting them with gratitude softens the edge winter often brings me. What do you enjoy about winter and the cold?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a few of my tricks to bring some lightness to heavy winter days. Other things to consider are a happy light or light box to get the UV light that helps the body produce its own vitamin D, exercise, or just moving your body a little bit every day. Getting blood flowing is good for circulation and helps to keep your perspective fresh. Meditation is a good way to keep your mind and mood elevated any day of the year. What’s on your list for surviving winter? What’s on your list for bringing warmer months to your winter days to thrive in winter?