December 12, 2014

Winter Is A Good Time To Slow Down

A vase full of sunshiny happiness brightens the dark days.

The hours of daylight are now about as bleak as they are going to get. We are in peak season (in the northern hemisphere) for cold, dark days, and we know that mood, energy levels, and the seasons are connected. It is a great time to be able to slow things down.

While most people's schedules don't change throughout the year, they find that their energy levels wane along with the amount of sunshine and heat. One has just as much to do with less get-up-and-go.

A normal response to cold, dark days is lower energy levels, with about 10% to 25% of the population in northern climates experiencing more serious symptoms including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

And we have a major holiday celebration at this time of year? Whose idea was that? It doesn't help when one feels more like sleeping in or eating a whole pie rather than going out into the chilly darkness. Being able to choose to do less and move more slowly right now is a nice nature-approved option.

In winter I would like to be a smart, old grizzly bear and hibernate through the dark days. Image how much money one would save on food and the heating bill. Turn down the heat this time of year, snuggle under an extra-warm down comforter, and see you March 20th.

Perhaps not so far fetched when NASA just announced some wonderfully torporific Deep Sleep research so they can slow down astronauts on their way to the planet Mars. Sleeping space travellers use less resources, and it makes the trip through a long winter in space more bearable.

Barring a few days, weeks, or months of sweet slumber, there are things that can be done to 'lighten' the mood in Winter whether you have SAD or not.

  • light therapy
  • using mirrors to reflect sunlight into home or office windows (I want some of these)
  • Vitamin D supplements
  • outdoor activity, especially on sunny days
  • exercise
  • laughter
  • music
The above suggestions are supported by scientific research. Having fresh flowers on display through the winter is not mentioned, but it makes sense. I recently discovered 50% off flowers at the grocery store, so I am giving them a try. So far the results are good.

The research also does not mention the effectiveness of having a reduced schedule to match reduced winter energy levels, but it does work. Winter is a good time to slow down.

Good day, and good night.


  1. Too right! One of my geranium plants (one of three that I found in a ditch opposite some holiday cottages in the autumn during one of my walks) has for some reason started to flower in my ever-so-cold conservatory. So, I've brought it onto the kitchen table. Pretty pink flowers are such a treat, and contrast to the snow outside.

    1. Jess,

      I love finding useful things while walking. Little discoveries they are. The flowering is a nice surprise this time of year.

  2. Anonymous12/12/2014

    Since I have begun embracing a more simple lifestyle, this is the first winter that I haven't suffered from SAD. I am learning to see the beauty in a bare winter landscape - it's always been easy to see the beauty of nature in July but a bit harder (not impossible, though) to see its beauty in December. These dark days before the Winter Solstice have actually been oddly enjoyable ones for me, because I can now appreciate the changing seasons and the reasons for the darkness more. The lights from my small Christmas tree and the warmth of lamplight on my wooden floors have helped me appreciate this season in its true, natural beauty. I still love summer, but I am finally making my peace with Winter.

    1. Anon,

      What an endorsement for downshifting one's life. Once you can find beauty in winter you have it made. Then we can appreciate the dark as well as the light. "It's all good", as the Australians say.

      So happy to hear the simple life has helped you to find your peace.

  3. Anonymous12/13/2014

    Hi, I've been following this blog for a few months, the ideas are enlightening and informative. However I would like to ask how much are you spending per month? I am not sure whether my question is appropriate, please excuse me if I come across rude.

  4. I'm hoping for a bit of just as well as mirrors!

    1. PS I've been thinking more about this post and am happy to say that all the seasons are favourites of mine. It's wonderful to live on a country where nature provides a constantly changing pageant to delight (and occasionally horrify!) us. For me, winter is a time for huddling near the fire with friends, walks on crisp frosty days, appreciating the beautiful naked trees. Knitting, playing my harp and cooking hearty vegetable soups and home-made bread. We do have a large mirror in a formerly dark corner of our living works well. Fresh flowers are a good idea too! And I'm very fortunate not to suffer from SAD, although last winter which was endless rain here was a bit grim!

    2. We lived in Jamaica when I was very young, were there for 7 years, and my mother always said that the one thing she missed the most was the absence of changing seasons.

  5. gretchen12/13/2014

    in native cultures, winter is a time for story-telling. as evening falls, family and friends gather to listen to tales of the old days and old ways. advent also reflects a season of peaceful waiting. we gather to hear the ancient stories of the promise of the coming light. may we all rest in this time of listening deeply and quiet contemplation.

  6. SAD is one of the major reasons I needed to move south. It's been sunny here in lower Alabama nearly every day, sometimes warm too. It really helps, but I realized something the other day. When living up north, there was always a snow day that FORCED you to slow down. Shocking as it sounds, I almost found myself wishing for that kind of day this week just so I'd have an excuse to crash on the sofa, eat a whole pie (lol) and veg out. When it's nice outside every day, you feel guilty if you want to do just that.

  7. Anonymous12/14/2014

    I've struggled with SAD for years. A light box had made such a huge difference. Burning candles and fresh flowers are also great mood lifters. I'm planning a solstice celebration with my six year old son and husband. We're going to have a bonfire to welcome back the light. Planning that has lifted my mood as well. I really enjoyed reading what you wrote. Thank you. :)

  8. I really love the short days and gloomy weather and look at it as a change to nestle inside with a book and warm beverage. :)


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