My idea of heaven is a bright, sunshine-filled day; a luscious bowl of tropical fruit; and access to a sandy beach where I can do yoga in the morning and walk along the sand at sunset. Is it any wonder, then, that winter has always been my least-favorite season?
Even though the cold-weather months aren’t my favorite, I’ve come a long way from the days when I would dread the approaching winter solstice. Just the thought of dark days, endless rain, and wearing jackets day in and day out would send me spiraling into a gloomy funk.
That all changed about five years ago when I decided to adopt the aphorism that says “if you can’t get out of it, get into it.” Winter wasn’t going away, so I knew it was time to shift the “I-hate-winter” narrative and transform my season of dread into a three-month celebration.
For inspiration, I tapped into the Scandinavian philosophy of hygge, and discovered that actually, there is so much to enjoy about winter. I discovered the pleasure of warming up my living space with candles, which give off a super-cozy vibe and make each day feel like a special occasion. I also learned to trade my habitual ice-cold smoothies for warming bowls of soup, and to take time in the evenings to sit quietly with a magazine and snuggly blanket in my lap while sipping a steamy mug of golden milk.
More importantly, however, is that I stopped repeating the “winter is the worst” mantra and reframed my thoughts to create positive connotations to the cold. Now, I welcome the revitalizing feeling I get when breathing in the crisp air on my morning walks, and appreciate the opportunity to wind down early on dark days, to do less at night, and to go to bed earlier. Turns out, winter isn’t so bad after all!
If you’re working on your relationship with winter, I feel you! Here are 10 of my favorite things about the cold-weather months; Perhaps they’ll inspire you to re-imagine this season as a time to connect with the cozy side of life.
10 Things I Love About Winter
- The transition from my usual fruit-heavy diet to warm, nourishing foods
From simple dal and miso soup to more complex coconut curries and stews, I love a warming meal-in-a-bowl. Give me a baked kabocha squash or Japanese sweet potato, and I’m in heaven! I also relish any opportunity to indulge in festive peppermint hot chocolate and turmeric lattes.
And not just for nighttime. During the day, I light a luxe scented votive at my desk, and at night, out come the tapers, tea lights, and candle sticks to imbue my living space with a warm glow.
- Permission to prioritize relaxation
I tend toward overworking most of the year, with 14-hour days the norm. But when the winter sun sets at 5pm, I do my best to start winding down. By 7pm, I’ve closed my laptop, silenced my phone notifications, and focus on preparing a healthy dinner and catching up with my family.
- Stunning sunrises (and waking up with the sun)
There’s something magical about winter light, and getting up with the sunrise and experiencing the dawn of the day is one of the most special experiences we can enjoy, for free, right outside our window!
- Getting cozy with my wool-free coats and vegan Uggs
Vegan outerwear has come a long way since I first went vegan more than two decades ago. I love rocking my favorite cruelty-free jacket, not just for how warm and snuggly it keeps me, but to be able to say “it’s vegan” to anyone who asks me about it!
- Booking an onsen at the local Japanese spa
Before the pandemic, I would regularly visit a Japanese-style day spa for a long soak in a steaming-hot bath. It literally melts the stress away while warming my bones, and fuels me for days! I can’t wait for the day when I can treat myself to this ritual again.
- The excitement of a VegNews Vacation
Some years, it’s India, others Thailand, and some years, winter means two incredible trips! This year, I have Christmas in Thailand to look forward to, as well as the VegNews Vegan Yoga Retreat to Mexico! Meeting new people, seeing new places, and getting a welcome dose of tropical sun is a special winter treat.
- Festive gatherings with friends and family
Hosting a dinner party, if only by Zoom these days, is one of life’s little pleasures, and there’s something extra convivial and delightful about sharing a meal in a warm, cozy space when it’s cold and wintry outside. Break out those candles, cue Ella Fitzgerald, and relish the company of loved ones.
- A visit to the Stanford Inn
I always try to schedule a visit to this all-vegan inn during the off-season. The ambiance is always cozy, the seasonal cuisine incredible, and roaring fireplaces in every room encourage maximum hygge-style relaxation and comfort.
- The anticipation of spring
Each day after the winter solstice, I can feel the days getting longer and longer. I love experiencing nature as the cold recedes and the first tiny buds begin to appear on the trees. It’s so life-affirming!