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How Will You Stay Cheerful This Winter?

The other day, I was talking to my therapist about…

…the approaching winter. The days are already getting colder and shorter, and, as someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I’m hoping to keep spirits up during these darker days. I’d LOVE to hear what works for you, and here are seven ideas from a few friends and me:

1. Gaze into a light therapy lamp. Have you ever tried one? Alex had one when we first moved in together, and at first I dismissed it as new-age-y and weird. But then I tried it (you just turn it on for about 15 minutes in the morning) and was shocked by how my mood lightened. You can actually feel yourself getting cheerier. I swear by it now, more than a decade later.

2. Take a steaming bath. “My winter survival move is filling my bathtub with extremely hot water and lavender Epsom salt,” says my friend Gisela. “During the colder months, I take a bath as soon as I walk in from the street just to warm my body — and then another one before bed.”

3. Get a stack of funny books and movies. Pick up essays by Jessi Klein or Samantha Irby, and watch Palm Springs or Plus One, if you haven’t already. (Any other suggestions?) You could also cuddle with loved ones: “My boys look forward to my reading aloud to them,” says Erin. “They change into pajamas, I make hot cocoa and we get under a fuzzy blanket.”

4. Light candles everywhere. Keep candles flickering in your bedroom, living room and dinner table, whether they’re scented numbers, classic tapers or these neon sculptures. Bonus: that amazing smell of a just-blown-out match.

5. Host a virtual soup group. A couple years ago, my friend Liz started a winter soup group, where we all switched off hosting friends over a pot of soup. (“Cauliflower is a favorite,” adds Gisela.) It was easy and bolstering, and this winter, I’d love to keep it up virtually. Just choose a soup and chat over Zoom while warming your belly.

6. Walk, walk, walk. “I always take a walk in the fresh air every day, no matter the weather. It’s the Danish way!” says my friend Lee, who grew up in Copenhagen. Cold air feels invigorating, especially if you’re bundled up. (“My hatred for East Coast winters dropped 50% upon buying a week’s supply of good wool socks,” says my friend Linsey.) You could even consider going on a legit winter hike. Says Linsey: “My husband forced us to go on a snow hike last year, and though I am passionately Team Summer forever, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. We hiked up a stream with the coolest frozen icicle sculptures along the way. Day trips to the woods have been a lifeline for my mental health throughout the pandemic, so we set a goal to keep hiking at least once a month throughout the cold months.”

7. Keep an open mind. An anxiety trick I learned this year from Brené Brown is to not “dress rehearse tragedy” and instead consider that everything may actually turn out… well. Because you never know, maybe this winter will be WONDERFUL. 🙂

What else do you do to keep your spirits up? What’s your winter vision? Please share any tips below! Good luck to us! I love you!

P.S. Another pick-me-up: vibrators. And how to stop worrying so damn much.

(Photo by Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy.)

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