Try Adopting a Positive Winter Mind-set.
If we can’t gather safely inside where the cold and dark of winter usually drive us, where oh where shall we go?! Ask any Scandinavian this question and you’ll hear the same thing…OUTSIDE!! Believe it or not, people who live in some of the darkest, longest winters are deemed some of the happiest people on earth! How is that possible, you wonder?!
Two simple reasons: Warm Clothing and a Positive Winter Mindset
As a psychotherapist working outside a traditional doctor’s office, I’ve experienced and witnessed the joys of working and playing outside during winter months. But one thing is certain – if I don’t dress appropriately for the temperature, I’m cold and miserable. As Scandinavians like to say, there’s no such thing as cold weather…only inadequate clothing.
Now for a positive winter mindset. I know that might sound hard or out-of-reach or maybe even impossible. I mean, it’s freezing and wet and icy! Gross. How can you do it? Here are 3 strategies to help get you through the winter season.
Strategy 1: Get Outside
Getting outside is central to Scandinavians and a concept called friluftsliv, (Norwegian for “open air life”) calls for “dressing” for the season rather than complaining about it–from woolen socks and leggings to safety-focused reflective strips on all outerwear. Believe it or not, once we’re outside in the cold, we feel better than we thought we would. We emerge feeling refreshed and optimistic, demonstrating the benefits of outdoorphins!
Strategy 2: Ritualizing Winter with Ceremony
Scandinavian’s elementary school children are asked to bring a log to class to build an outdoor bonfire as a way to bring light to the “months of darkness.” Lighting a flame–whether candles inside or bonfires outside — can be a time to stop and give thanks for the good in our lives, as well as honoring those who have lost their lives during this past year.
Your “ceremony” doesn’t have to be lighting a fire.
Maybe you teach your child, grandchild or neighbor how to make paper snowflakes? (Would be easy over zoom!) Maybe you go out and get a scoop of fresh snow for a diy snowcone. If you’re adventurous, how about sledding? It’s surprisingly exhilarating and will get you in touch with your inner child. Remember when snow was an exciting treat?
Strategy 3: Appreciate Winter
Changing our mind-set begins with changing our mind(s). We can begin by imagining and planning for new experiences and adventures in the next few months–whether inside or out. Perhaps it’s reading, cooking, starting or finishing long standing “projects,” binging on a TV show, signing up for yoga, dance or art classes; or, how about taking up skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or ice-skating? The list is endless!
According to Norwegian psychologist, Dr. Solhaug, “Welcoming the shifts in seasons, instead of regretting them, puts you in contact with the rhythms of life and death, with nature, which might also help us put things in our life into perspective.”
Remember, “what we think about we bring about.” Take a moment to check in and ask yourself, what am I thinking about?
* This article was inspired by a NY Times article by Kari Leibowitz.