I have a couple of clients over in Europe, and nearly every time we Zoom, it’s evening for them. I love this because it’s kind of like talking to someone through time travel, which is super cool. Just recently, I caught up with one of them, and one of the first things I noticed was that she was sitting in the dark. Don’t get me wrong, she looked cozy, and she was covered in adorable pets, but I couldn’t help noticing her environment.
Mostly, I made the connection because one of the things we talked about was how to make it through the long, cold, dark winter.
It’s a legit question, and one many of us are thinking about right now. Since I chatted with that friend, I’ve talked to several others, and texted even more, who expressed the same concerns – how the hell am I going to make it through? Especially this winter?
It’s also a question we tend to revisit every single year. November and December roll around, it starts getting darker earlier, stupid daylight savings time starts (Ends? Whatever, it’s such an idiotic thing, I don’t care to learn the details.), the weather changes, we can’t shake the chill in our houses or our bones, and all we can think about is, like, March. Especially post-holiday, there’s just nothing but seasonal depression to look forward to for three months straight.
Believe me, I dreaded winter for 35 years of life too. Oddly, it was just last year I finally made a little mindset shift. I was still in St. Louis, so it was typical St. Louis Gray (it’s a thing, ask anyone who lives there), which I typically haaaaated. And then one day, out of that gray I just thought to myself, what if I didn’t decide to hate every second of this? “I hate winter” is only a story I tell myself, so what if I told myself something else? I did, and honestly, I don’t even remember last winter, it went by so fast.
So when the little comments started coming in this fall and winter, I thought a little more about it all. And when my friend expressed frustration at how to just get through the next two months, I knew how to respond.
The truth is, we’re going to make it through the cold, dark winter no matter what. Time’s not going to stop. So how we make it through becomes the thing.
Changing how we experience the long, cold, dark winter can make all the difference in the world, and we do that one day at a time.
It’s a subtle shift, but a powerful one – from how on earth am I going to get through the next eight weeks?!? To how can I experience the next eight weeks?
We’re already a couple of weeks post-Solstice. That means we’re getting anywhere from 90 seconds to two minutes of additional daylight every single day, depending what latitude you’re located in. What can you do with those extra minutes of light in your day? How can you be present in them? Grateful for those building moments of light energy?
And even if you can’t feel the light for another month or two, then how can you focus on presence in the dark? Here’s another mindset shift – you know how we sometimes purposely put ourselves in dark rooms for fitness classes, and totally relish those hours? Replicate that feeling, that attitude, in your day. Make it cozy with your blankies and pets, like my friend. Make it a feast for the senses with candles or a fire and music or a meditation. Get some of those cute little fairy lights for your favorite space. Watch a scary movie, if that’s your thing. Environment matters. But remember, the dark isn’t always the enemy.
It’s all in how you choose to experience it.
We’re in such a race to get past everything right now. And truly, I get it. The world is still smoldering in a million ways. Shit’s scary. And we can’t even hug it out. (GODDAMMIT.) But focusing only on this vague end of it (which, um, doesn’t really exist anyway) doesn’t help. It’s only a variation of avoidance, and that never solves a thing or makes it any better.
Bottom line is, this period in all our lives is perhaps not the most awesome, but it’s still not worth missing.
So hey, I know it’s dark and cold, and I know it’s going to be a long winter. But try, please try, not to write it off. Stay present, even for a few moments in your day. This is still your life. Look up. Look within. Take it one day at a time. Ask yourself, how can you truly experience each day as its own? Then do that.