How I Learned to Appreciate Winter (And How You Can Change Your Mindset Too)
As a native Clevelander who has lived here for my entire life, I was born into the crazy seasons and temperamental weather changes. When I was a child, the winter never bothered me--I liked snow days, playing outside in my snowsuit, and coming home from school to a warm house where you could smell the dust burning off the furnace, and a hot, home cooked meal that usually consisted of a creamy sauce and rice--the perfect comfort food. But as I got older, my attitude toward winter changed, especially after encountering one too many white knuckle drives to and from work, dealing with static hair and dry, scaly skin, walking between buildings in the bitter cold air on my college campus, having to trade in my stiletto heels for snow boots (or trying to walk on the snow covered ice in heels and ending up having to deal with salt stains), cleaning ice and snow off my car after it had been parked outside overnight in my apartment parking lot, or more recently having to hire a snow plow to clear my driveway. My whole adult life I have dreaded the two months following the holidays. In January and February, there is not much to look forward to, social plans are often marred by weather, and I look longingly out into my backyard, dreaming of the days until I can relax and enjoy the warm weather again. My attitude would often be sour, and I would count down the days until the first signs of spring would come--spring break, the first green leaf, daffodils, more daylight, the first warm day, and the signs of the end of the school year. More recently though, I have started to look at winter differently--especially after reading this article. Although I love summer, working in my yard, and gardening, I was ready for a break--I was thankful for the first frost! I am a Type A perfectionist, and sometimes my own personal standards wear me out. As the holidays and the first signs of a Northeast Ohio winter began to settle across The Land, I was in need of a break and some me time.
That's when I began to think back to what that article said, and how many of the ideas of the Norwegian appreciation winter are true. How can we change our mindset? How can we get back to how we liked winter as a child? How can we appreciate those two months of our short life and not waste them? Below, I will share how I changed my mindset and some ways you can begin to appreciate winter too.
1) Use winter as a time for rest, relaxation, and reflection.
There is a season for everything, and winter is the season for rest, relaxation, and reflection. Nature takes time off to prep itself for the busy spring, summer, and autumn seasons--why shouldn't we? Did we ever consider that was the way it was supposed to be all along? Why not take advantage of days schools/businesses close for snow storms and quiet weekends at home to rest our bodies and restore our mind? I know I have used my recent winter break and days off due to weather and sickness as a way to rest my body. In Cleveland, the past two winters were mild--leading to less time to rest and relax. I was starting to wonder if the past two years had caught up to me. These past few weeks were the first time that I have really had the opportunity to take care of myself and rest my body. I am thankful and am hopeful as life gets back to normal or when spring arrives, I am ready. The other day I was thinking I was thankful to live in Cleveland and have winter. I am not sure I could go at the same pace all year long that I do in spring and summer.
2) Appreciate what nature has to offer in winter
It was not until I moved into my home that I began to really pay attention to the seasons outside. Walk outside late one calm, winter night and listen. It is QUIET. Nature is resting. Then, in July or August, walk outside at the same time. What a difference--summer is NOISY! The sounds of locusts and crickets fill the air so much, it can be deafening. Both seasons bring beauty and differences--enjoy God's creation.
I also love the look of freshly fallen snow on tree branches. There is a reason flocked winter and Christmas decor are popular--snow on branches is beautiful. You can buy flocked decor for inside of your home, but I'm thankful I have the real deal outside my window.
3) Bring back the things of winter you enjoyed as a child
For me, this is cooking warm comfort food or having a cup of hot cocoa or tea during the evening, wrapped in a cozy blanket. There is nothing like that after driving home on a snowy or cold evening.
For some, maybe it's enjoying winter sports, reading a book, or sitting by the fireplace. Treasure these things, as you will not be using these items or doing any of the activities as you would in spring, summer, or fall.
4) Focus on Personal Growth or a Project
Due to some of the down time that naturally comes with winter, due to weather and decreased time outside, focus on your own personal growth or a project. Personal growth can be anything from health (both physical and mental), maintaining those New Year's Resolutions, or focusing on education or your career. Maybe it can even be a project, whether it is something that you have been wanting to do inside of your home. Winter is the best time to do indoor home projects, like painting. For me, I have been focusing on this blog, as well as additional projects at work, my New Year's resolution, and my list of things I want to accomplish around the house. I know that once it warms up outside, many things may no longer be a priority. This is the time to do it now.
5) Plan something in your Calendar
As I mentioned above, winter months can be dull, and for me, I always feel like they can be boring with nothing to look forward to. To get rid of this mentality, I will often try to plan things for the months of January and February, such as dinners out, time with family and friends, and making the most of my time indoors.
Planning things can also consist of planning for the later months of spring and summer, whether it is a vacation or in my case, planning my garden.
This occupies your mind, provides opportunities to get out the house, allows you to be more productive, and gives you something to look forward to later on.
6) It's All About Mindset.
Like with anything, sometimes you need to change your way of thinking. Often, we get too down in the doll-drums or irritated by weather or situations, that we often forget to appreciate what we have or that we have another day to be alive. Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, we need to be thankful and positive for each day that is given to us.
Easier said than done--but the more we begin thinking this way, the more we will be appreciative of things--even in winter.