Hello, Nell here.
This time of year is always a bit odd for me. Growing up in Australia, this is normally the time of year that I would be melting into a small puddle in some hideous heatwave either on the beach or near a pool. England, particularly North Yorkshire has the opposite weather conditions, with this weekend bringing in snow, sleet, rain and fog. As much as I love England and always envisioned myself living here permanently, I do really struggle in winter. It’s not so much the weather, its more the lack of light and sun. Everyone talks about the January blues, SADS disease etc, but it is something that I find I really struggle with. Previous years I’ve noticed my mood drop, feelings of apathy and numbness dominate (my own way of dissociating when I am feeling particularly bad) and spend more time inside in front of a TV than anywhere else (other than work). This year we have had the added pressure of not really being able to see anyone, having a weird holiday season, and constant bombardment of a new disaster or issue on the news.
Becoming more aware of my moods and questioning my emotions when they come up, has helped me prepare a little more for this winter. I don’t dismiss my feelings but rather try and reframe them and re-examine the situation in a more positive light. Rather than thinking “this sucks, winter just drags on and on, I’m so bored of winter…”, I have been trying to notice things about this season that bring me joy and that you don’t see at any other time. Nature for me always fills me with a sense of awe and wonder so it made sense for me to observe the changes in season in relation to the animals around, the plants and the weather. On my drive to and from work I have noticed that I seem to always see barn owls hunting in these darker months. I noticed over the spring and summer I rarely saw them, but as soon as the winter set in they seem to be everywhere. I make a point to smile whenever I see them and having now practiced this for a couple of months, I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling a bit low, when I see one of the owls I instantly burst into a smile and it really helps break that negative cycle.
I have also framed winter in my mind as a time to rest and recuperate. That is after all what the natural world does at this time of year – hibernate and rest before bursting into life in the spring. We have taken all opportunities to get outside when the weather is nice, and when it’s not, rather than punishing myself for not being productive (which I have a tendency to do) embracing getting cosy by a fire, having a hot chocolate, reading or knitting; really throwing myself into restful and warming activities. This reframing has really helped me cope with these darker months and I am really looking forward to the joys of January in the natural world (snow drops, aconites, frosty mornings).
As always, I’m here to chat. Please feel free to share this with anyone who you think it might help.
All the best,