Your lips are cracked.
Your friends are sniffling. Your boots are salt-stained, soggy and sad-looking. Maybe you, too, are sad-looking, all wrapped up in fleece and wool with icy white finger tips and a Rudolph-red nose. You’re aching for Jack Frost to turn on his heel and melt this deep-seated chill.
I get it. Even though I actually love the first few snow falls—the holidays, the cozy evenings and all—even I get twitchy once March rolls around, yearning for sunshine like a nascent flower bud pressing at its husk. But, wishing away a big chunk of weeks is no way to live. The secret to happiness is to embrace the life you’re living right now. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a few tactics for not just surviving this last stretch of winter, but truly embracing it.
1. Cook Warming Comfort Food
The summer is all about fresh fruits, big fat salads and a lot of ice cream. The last thing we want when it’s sweltering is heavy, thick foods. So let’s make the most of our chilled bones by feasting on winter comfort food.
Think oozy, cheesy dishes like mac and cheese with bacon, hot toddies and mulled wine to warm you from the inside. Rich, stick-to-your ribs meals like Duck Confit and slow-cooked lamb stew. You could even use these last cold weeks to perfect a variable recipe like homemade chili—here’s a delicious vegan one to get you started.
2. Love Your Cozy Sweater
Perhaps the best part of winter is warming yourself up. It’s a funny thing about life, but it just feels so good to relieve yourself of an uncomfortable situation. There is a sweet triumph in overcoming an obstacle to your own pleasure, so let’s savor the chill by wrapping ourselves in warmth!
I know, I know. You’re fantasizing about short shorts, sandals and dashing out of your apartment sans 16 layers of goose down. But think back to early fall, when you excitedly shook out your knee-high boots, tights, cable-knit sweaters and bad-ass wool slacks! Soon you’ll be tucking it all away, so take a minute to revel in the soft and cozy comfort of dozens of layers.
Cuddle with your SO. Cuddle with your BFF. Cuddle with your mom or your neighbor’s basset hound. No one around to cuddle? Cuddle yourself! Pull on your coziest sweatpants and sweater—giant wooly socks optional—gather up your fluffiest blankets and best pillows, and burrow into your most plush sofa, armchair or bed.
Once you’re tucked in, whether coupled up or solo, let yourself feel truly cocooned.
You may want to take this quiet, safe time to reflect on your winter hibernation and refocus your goals, because you know you’re about to have a burst of energy with spring’s first blossom. How will you use it?
Or, all wrapped up and warm, maybe you want to do nothing but…cuddle. Indulge that impulse. Napping optional.
Take a lesson from Canadian school children and get yourself some serious, head-to-toe winter gear—I’m talking snow pants, ski masks, long underwear, the works. Learn the art of tucking your pant cuffs into your boots and yes, get yourself a long string of yarn to attach both mittens. Properly decked out, you’ll be free of silly worries like “my jeans are getting wet” and “I’m going to catch a cold in all this cold.” Warm and ready to folic, you can reclaim a child’s joy in fresh-fallen (or hell, three-week old, heavily packed down) snow.
I recommend toboozing, on a garbage lid if you have to. (For my non-Canadian readers: tobogganing + booze = toboozing!) Bonus points for snow angels, playful snow ball fights and carrot-faced snowmen. When you get home, peel off your soggy socks and mittens and hang them all quaint-like over the radiator or side of the bathtub. Proceed to whip up homemade hot chocolate, pour it into giant mugs, and top with generous amounts of marshmallows. Drink slowly while heating up by the crackling fire.
5. Get Creative.
Life is dreary right now. Perhaps sad is affecting you, and those around you. You likely see your friends less, because people are so much more inclined to stay in their homes in this nasty weather. I think there are very healthy ways to veg out at home (refer to above cuddle recommendation), but this time of year has a tendency to turn quiet home-time into a depressing mope fest.
Rejuvenate your house-dwelling by picking up neglected art projects. Winter is the perfect time to work on that novel, finish your cross-stitching or finally paint that pricey canvas you bought three years ago. Channel your cabin fever into artistic endeavors and the winter doldrums will start to shift; you may once again find yourself in awe of the dancing patterns of ice on your windows and the twirling mist of your own exhale.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Zenna James / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum