Being from down south, I didn't grow up with a "real" winter season. Oh, we definitely pulled out the sweaters and coats (sometimes even hats and mittens) but for us southerners, it was a big deal if we got a few snow flurries in January. "Cold" was defined as anything below 60 degrees.
So upon moving to New England I got to experience intense winter for the first time, and despite my southern background, it has become one of my favorite seasons. Although I certainly miss the greenness of the plants, trees and flowers, it is a time I have come to look forward to -- for there is beauty in every season, even bare winter.
Like most things, however, you need to know how to make the most of snowy/cold/dark days. For me this means remembering and engaging the power of our senses.
During winter months many of us notice that our senses can feel deprived -- it is darker, colder, and less colorful outside -- with fewer natural scents and sights to take in. We spend a lot more time indoors, and perhaps too much time front of a computer screen and in artificial light. By the end of winter, we may find ourselves feeling a bit low, and deeply longing for the sunshine, natural colors, and earthy scents that spring brings.
So instead of begrudging winter for the season it is, start engaging your senses to make the most of this time. Below are some of my favorite and simple ways to feel more alive and vigorous during this special season:
✶ Surround yourself with indoor plants. Try forcing some bulbs, like paperwhites or colorful amaryllis. I bring my potted rosemary plants indoors and use them as festive decorations. I also use plants that I harvested and dried over the summer and make them into wreaths or unusual flower arrangements.
✶ Make daily infusions of uplifting and aromatic tea blends. Brew your favorite tea by the cup or by the pot-full and make it a small daily ritual. There are many excellent herbs to choose from for aromatic purposes. Some of my favorites include tulsi, lemon balm, ginger, spearmint, chamomile, rose petals and cinnamon. I also like to brew up my root chai on the stove so that the whole house smells like cardamom, pepper and clove.
✶ Use your favorite essential oil in a candle diffuser or in a bath. Lovely & uplifting ones for this time of year include cardamom, rosemary, tulsi (holy basil), and any citrus oil, such as sweet orange, grapefruit or bergamot. Citrus oils are especially beneficial for low spirits and the winter blues.
✶ Bring natural light indoors with candles. There is something incredibly soothing about candlelight, and gazing into the flame, especially in mid-winter. I favor beeswax candles for their long burn-time and sweet natural scent, but any kind of candle will do. Lighting candles is simple way to automatically transform your home and increase the cozy factor.
✶ Take a brisk walk outside. Even with temperatures in the teens it is good to get outside and get some sunlight on our skin. Bundle up, take a nice jaunt around the neighborhood, breathe in the cold air and notice the unique quality of the winter light at this time. Have a hot cup of aromatic tea awaiting you when you return.