The words “I just love the first week of January” have never been uttered by a British person.
Let’s face it, this point in the year is hard to warm to. The festive fun of Christmas already feels far behind us, it gets light for approximately 45 minutes each day and there’s nothing to look forward to until about, ooh, mid-March.
Add to this the fact that everyone I know is on some kind of Dry January, detoxing, money-saving kick and it’s easy to see why Mondays for the foreseeable are not just blue but positively hypothermic.
This year, of course, the bleak midwinter feels even, well, bleaker. After the annus horribilis we’ve all been through, even cold-weather novelties such as snuggling up in your PJs to watch TV or going for a walk have lost their sheen, given that they are pretty much all we’ve done for the past nine months straight.
But pandemic aside, every time December rolls around I feel a sense of doom. Despite fantasies of wood-burning stoves and hot chocolates and lovely knitwear, the reality of winter for me is that my energy levels plummet into my Uggs and my anxiety goes sky-high. A sky that is more often than not the colour of over-washed pants.
I‘m aware I’m one of the 2 million people in the UK who experience SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which is more than just a funny acronym for the winter blues, and can cause sleep and eating problems, as well as depression.There is even research suggesting that our brain activity declines during this time of year – that the colder weather, shorter days and lack of sunlight might actually shrink our attention spans.
Because of all this I have always believed that winter is simply a time to be endured, to just plough on through like a snowmobile with your head down and your scarf on, hating every second. So when I heard about a new book called Wintering: The Power Of Rest And Retreat In Difficult Times by Katherine May, it was an intriguing prospect – the idea that the colder months aren’t just for hibernating in like a squirrel and can actually be enjoyed.
When she experiences a hard time, the author actively seeks out frosty temperatures under the logic that “you apply ice to a joint after an awkward fall, so why not do the same to a life?”
Inspired by this book, I’ve decided to approach January a little differently this year
I’ve built myself an arsenal of SAD coping devices, including but not limited to a bit of stretching every day, more candles than Mariah Carey’s dressing room and a change of mindset.
I’ve started to view the frost on the pavement as sparkly, bringing a touch of Strictly-esque glamour to a walk to the shops.
I’ve even forced myself to enjoy the sensation of the cold wind on my cheeks as a refreshing spritz that must be good for the complexion. OK, that last one might be taking it a bit far…Life is too short to spend three months of every year wishing them away.
Coping with the dark times – in life and in the seasons – is a skill you have to master.
Soon we will all be dressing like Love Island contestants and sipping frozen margaritas on a scorching hot beach (hopefully).
So let’s try to make the most of this winter, let’s eek every frosty, icy drop out of it.
The shortest day is already behind us. Spring is just around the corner.
This week I’m…
Listening to… Adulting
This podcast tries to figure out all the things we weren’t taught in school, from racism to relationships.
Loving… Cook, Eat, Repeat
Nigella Lawson reveals the inspiration behind the recipes in her latest delicious read.
The outdoorwear brand makes the best thermal skinny trousers – that’s winter socialising sorted then!
● Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
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