These dark drear days can be hard to endure. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Winter is hard on all living things, especially once festive holidays are over and the long hard slog towards spring begins.
In the spirit of sharing and the joys of simple pleasures, I offer these tips to get us through the dark days.
- Read some poetry. Anthologies like Deborah Alma’s ‘The Everyday Poet’ (Michael Marra), Daisy Goodwin’s ‘Poems to Last a Lifetime’ (Picador), The Candlestick Press pamphlet anthologies on different themes and only £4.95 apiece, and Bloodaxe’s Being Human, are great things to dip into. A poem a day keeps the sadness away.
- Fire and light are important parts of all winter festivals. A real hearth fire or logburner is a boost, and even the humble gas fire has a flame. Burn a scented candle for easy access to flame, and the scent will boost your spirits.
- If you can, wrap up warm and have a short walk outdoors. The exercise will redden your cheeks and if you can walk in a park or by a river or through a wood, the sights of nature will uplift you.
- On your return from outdoors, enjoy a hot drink and a snack – some soup left ready to reheat on your return, hot chocolate ready to make in the cup, tea and crumpets – whatever you enjoy. One of my favourite things is spicy loose leaf black tea made in my cast iron teapot, such as Bombay Chai or Russian Caravan.
- Give your living space a winter update. This can be simple, like changing the cushion covers to something more cosy, and adding some blankets and fleeces ready to snuggle into, folded on the back of the sofa or rolled into a basket for people to help themselves. Bring in some greenery from outside and arrange in a vase.
- Clove oranges add scent and look wonderful in a wooden or glass bowl. Easy to make. Just press whole cloves into the skin of several oranges, in a pattern or all over. Make them all different. They don’t go bad, but will eventually ossify.
- Make preserves and jellies and sloe gin etc and give them away as gifts. There are lots of recipes online and doing this makes me feel I am saving a bit of summer up and sharing it with friends and family.
- Knitting and crochet are great ways to keep one going. If you can’t do either, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube. I find knitting both relaxing and motivating. There have been times in my life when a knitting project has kept depression at bay. People really appreciate handmade knitted or crocheted gifts, or you can easily make yourself a blanket (see number 5)
- Hot water bottles. Really, how does anyone manage without these in winter? Inexpensive and cosy, sometimes even cuddly.
- One of my favourite things to do is feeding wild birds. It’s wonderful to watch them from indoors, feasting on nuts, fat balls and scraps of cheese, bacon fat. There is a satisfaction in knowing you are helping the wild bird population, and it can take your mind off your own problems.