How to embrace winter

The longest day of the year has passed, but what can you do to stay energized and avoid the winter blues?

Rethink your activities!

Shorter days and colder temperatures cause many to experience a lack of energy, oversleeping, weight gain and signs of depression. The Mayo Clinic reports that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may start as early as the fall and last until spring.

Knowing this effects EVERYONE on some level–and more specifically, how it effects you–learn to welcome winter by incorporating a few activities that are sure to get you moving while bringing joy into your days.

Plan ahead when possible!

Knowing there might be time when you’re homebound, save a couple of indoor projects that will raise your spirits as you work. For quick reference, keep a list of ideas in your journal. It’s not a hard list to generate. Think of how many times you talk about the long list of “Things you’d like to do if you only had more time,” make that the title of your journal page, and start writing.

When the days are short and your energy is low, pick an idea or two from the list to inspire a fun or productive activity.

Try a few creative projects, tie a few flies, practice your putting, plant seeds, or learn a new dance step! Focus on positive thought and keep the mood lively with upbeat music.

Consider treating yourself. Check an item off your New Year/New Beginnings list. Consider something low in cost but high in rewards like a gift of self-care or a DIY project that makes your day-to-day activities easier.

Turn the lights on!

Yes, even for those of us who tightly monitor energy use, PLEASE turn your lights on!

Consider placing reflective items like shiny metal objects or mirrors in a location where they best reflect the light. Light therapy is especially important when you’re starting your day! Use the light to help you keep your sleep cycle on track.

Embrace the season!

The days are colder but fresh air is invigorating!

As a child in Sweden, my grandmother said every morning they would open all the windows in their one room school house and do exercises! Whaaaat. Yes! She said it was to help them stay healthy and wake their minds up for learning.

Yes, the Scandinavians are known for embracing their short days of winter. They sled, ice skate, ski, and travel to gather socially. Polar plunges and saunas anyone?

When was the last time you made a snow angel or built a snowman?

Been wanting to learn to snow shoe? Many communities offer classes that give you opportunities to experience a new outdoor adventure without having to invest in equipment. You can get fresh air while celebrating with friends and social distancing!

Want to venture beyond your local opportunities?

Several of the state and national parks, like Yellowstone, suggest that winter might be the best time for visitors to see the wildlife! The animals come down from the mountains to the lower plains and valleys. Photographs are especially beautiful when the brown and black coloring of the elk or buffalo contrast against the white landscape!

Several parks that receive significant snow offer opportunities for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and skiing options. Did you know that you can book a room at one of the Yellowstone lodges and get an over-snow shuttle ride to view Old Faithful on New Year’s Eve?

Some of our favorite winter destinations don’t get the white fluffy stuff. Maybe a break from the harsh temperatures to a moderate temp will provide more opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, bird watching, and photography. Consider adding a museum or historic home daytrip. If you’re wanting an even quieter get-away, many off season spots can be the best value and less chaotic.

Always check with the specific parks you intend to visit before making your final plans. Visiting and booking stays may be on a limited or special occasion basis. Some sections of the parks have limited access or are closed to minimize maintenance. But, there’s still plenty to photograph and fresh air for your outdoor experience!

Though many of the traditional organized events are on hold this year, it’s well worth checking out what your park has to offer.

help you find, learn, and explore our state and national parks. They provide camping check lists, state park locators, and activities links to gear guides, events, provide trip ideas, resources for educators, photos and multimedia, help you discover our history, and so much more.

If you decide to take a road trip, don’t forget one of our favorite resources for unique destination ideas is Roadside America.

No More Boring Road Trips! Start Exploring the Miles of Fun! has ideas that will turn any road trip–even one in winter–into a fun adventure.

Fresh out of ideas?

Check out our PDF, Embrace Winter! Our Journal List of Reminders to help you get started!

So, here’s to embracing winter and all of its unique characteristics! Stay positive, stay productive, stay healthy, have fun, and help others to find ways to welcome the winter season in all its glory!

What activities help you embrace the winter?

We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

How to embrace winter

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” ― Albert Camus

We’re on the cusp of winter here in Minnesota, in the year 2020—a year that’s already thrown down all kinds of hard things. Granted, winter comes around every year in many parts of the world—but this year, (a year when being comfortable outside has helped many people feel connected to others while also feeling safe from congagions) winter feels more ominous. When days get shorter and temperatures drop, humans naturally do more gathering indoors: to stave off the chill, as well as the loneliness, isolation, and for some, seasonal depression, that tends to come with less daylight. In a year when loneliness, isolation, and varying degress of depression are already part of many people’s stories, losing comfortable outdoor spaces in which to gather feels like a low blow.

How to embrace winter

But there are things we can do, even in the hardest of winters, to navigate through to the spring that waits on the other side. (Whether they are literal cold weather periods or what author Katherine May calls, “fallow periods in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.”)

Part of the way through is both simple and challenging: Embrace winter. (What?) Yes! There is something empowering about embracing a cold or fallow season. Which is not to say that you have to enjoy every second—rather; it’s an invitation to look for the tiny, intentional practices that will buoy your spirit just enough to keep your inner invincible summer close.

Recently we did some crowdsourcing via social media, and as it turns out, there are a lot of ideas out there when it comes to surviving, or even thriving, while “wintering”.

Without further ado, here are some tiny things that we, along with a wide array of others (thanks, everyone!) do to embrace winter. What would you add to the list?

How to embrace winter

Leg warmers, outdoor running, tea, adult sledding with warm cocktails.

At least 5 minutes of natural light in the morning & vitamin D supplementation. Write real ‘pen to paper’ letters to include in holidays cards.

Fires (outside or in), nordic skiing, appreciating contrast, baking bread, savoring soup, reading uplifting literature, snowshoeing, twinkle lights in unexpected places, folk music in the background.

Candle splurges, fleece lined leggings, sorel boots, matching sweatpants, unshaved legs.

Lengthening hug duration twofold with those in our inner circle.

Christmas music and movies through January (does NOT apply to retail stores).

Adequate outerwear: gater, snowpants, good winter coat, waterproof gloves, cozy hat.

Crock Pots. Long underwear. Hot baths. Weekend movie marathons.

Slippers, fuzzy blankets, tanks/dresses that have built in bras, snow hikes, coffee while watching the sun rise.

Saunas, walks, trying new recipes, a stash of bath bombs, a stack of books, lighting candles as the sun sets, night walks through the neighborhood, Smartwool base layers, lowering expectations of everyone including yourself.

Dog snuggles, cat snuggles, fermented foods, chocolate chip cookies, knitting big comfy sweaters.

Outdoor hockey rinks, specialty hot cocoa and hot toddy’s, cooking Indian cuisine, turning up the space heater for livestream yoga.

Decorating the undecorated spots, setting up a home gym, peloton.

Blueberry Cobbler for breakfast. Good coffee in the morning. Base layers. Fresh air. Righteous playlists.

Walks. Whiskey. Dogs. Books. Irreverence.

Watching the snow fall, and accepting its presence. Stargazing. Paying attention to the crunch of snow underfoot and the way your hand holds a hot mug of tea.

Katherine May writes, “I recognized winter. I greeted it and let it in. Nature shows that survival is a practice.”

We concur, and as we write in the conclusion of 12 Tiny Things, “Imperfect practice is the way forward.”

May you find an abundance of small ways to embrace whatever sort of winter you’re facing in the months to come. Or, you know, at least a few.

**If wintering seems like too much to navigate, you feel stuck in a dark place, or are supporting someone who is struggling, please reach out for support.

Help is available:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

How to embrace winter

Winter. The very word brings dread.

The word is synonymous with cold, dreary, yucky and the death of all of seemingly every thing that lives. Some places have the promise of beautiful snow, which can be nice but still gets old fast – really fast. So we just survive it. We try to focus on the holidays and spending time with family. We buy and wear cute winter clothes and tell ourselves its fun. And we make lots of snowflake crafts in hopes that the kids will make it through winter without someone – either parent or child – losing their minds.

But what if there is another way?

There are several popular posts going around about how the Danes celebrate Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) and I found the whole concept utterly fascinating. Last year I implemented a few of those techniques – cozy blankets, lots of candles, nourishing foods – and it really did make the winter less miserable. But I was still counting the days until spring. So this year I’ve spent some real time reconnecting with nature. I’ve spent time trying to understand the seasons. I’m at a point in my life that I am tired of fighting mother nature, whether that is with the weather, my child’s behavior or simply trying to tame my unruly curly hair. I’m done with all of it. I am determined to work in sync with this beautiful world I call home.

But how does that change winter? To answer that question we need to recap the other seasons.

Spring is all about new life. Birds make their nests, cows and horses have their babies, flowers start popping out of the ground. Everything about spring screams life and new beginnings. What’s not to love about spring?

Summer is warm and fun. The grass gets brighter, more flowers come up, gardens start producing those beautiful tomatoes and peppers and we can all enjoy going with less clothes and spending more time near the water. Summer is an easy favorite.

Autumn is a time of change and joy. For many people this is the best season. The temperatures from the hot summer cool down, the leaves change into vivid colors and we can start wearing our super cute boots and jeans! Autumn is the best!

And then just about the time we have fallen in love with autumn, everything dies. The trees shed all their leaves, the grass turns brown, the flowers die, the gardens closes shop. The temperatures start getting cold and it seems to be dark right after lunch. The kids start going stir crazy because its too cold to go outside and they spend hours on end cooped up in the house. Its such a tough time.

But wait.

In my opinion, winter is arguably the most important season of the year – both to the plants and to us. Winter is when the plants send their energy into the roots and let the tops die off. Its when the plant takes a rest. Without winter, we would have no spring. Think about that. Granted, there are some gorgeous places in the world that do not see winter and they have beautiful vegetation all year. But that won’t work for all plants. Some of them need downtime. The earth needs downtime. Just as humans need rest, so does mother nature.

And speaking of humans… we need rest too.

That, my friend, is what winter is for. Winter is for soups and stews and wonderful earthy veggies like carrots, potatoes and winter squash. Winter is for cozy nights in front of the fireplace wrapped up in a warm blanket with a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate. Winter is for spending time together as a family playing dominoes and drawing beautiful art.

Winter is for rest.

The other seasons are so busy with working in the garden, caring for baby animals, jumping in the pool and riding our bikes. The sun is up so late in summer that most kids have to go to sleep when the bright rays are still streaming in their windows. There is little room for rest in spring, summer and autumn.

But winter! Winter is for working on our inner selves, Just as the plants send the energy to their roots, so we should do the same. Its a time for being introspective. A time for peace. A time for bonding with family. Why not? You are already held hostage by the early dark evenings! Its a great time to read a book together as a family or write in a diary. Its the perfect time for being still, turning off the electronics and just being.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Winter no longer sounds like a punishment.

The problem is that we don’t allow winter to be winter. We cram in holidays, trips to see family, school and church plays, holiday parties and more – in our attempt to “survive” winter. We think that if we can just pretend its not going on, then it isn’t really happening! And maybe we will make it through these cold, dreary months.

But think about it. From a health standpoint, when do people get sick most often? Winter. Do you know why? Because we get less fresh air, less vitamin D from the sun, and we load up on sugary treats and bad-for-us food. And ultimately everyone gets sick! Instead of feeding ourselves nourishing soups, stews and root veggies, we pig out on cookies, sugary drinks, and extra breads. In a time when our body desperately needs to rest, we not only deny its request for rest, but we push it to its limits.

What would happen if you went without sleep? We all know that we should stay awake for approx 16 hours a day and then spend 8 hours a day resting. What if we decided that our rest time was dreary and dark? What if we chose to spend our resting time baking and eating cookies and going to parties, how long would it take our bodies to shut down? Not long.

16 hours of play, 8 hours of rest = 8 months of play, 4 months of rest.

The secret to embracing winter is to appreciate what its purpose is. Rest and inner work. Instead of fighting it, give in to what its asking. Attend a few less events, spend more time doing peaceful work indoors, snuggle up to your family, eat those perfect nourishing winter foods (and way less cookies!)

With this mentality, I have absolutely fallen in love with winter. I encourage you to take this time in winter to rest so that when the first flowers open their blooms, the first garden seeds pop out of the ground and the first baby animal is born then you too can come out of your winter cocoon and embrace the new seasons of life(spring), fun(summer) and joy(autumn) and be ready for the season of rest(winter) to come back around again next year.

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….it’ll be fun they said…

How to embrace winter

It was -16 degrees, -32 degrees with the windchill when I woke up this morning. One of the things I’ve come to love about Minnesotans is their fondness for talking about the weather. I’ve also noticed that there are definitely two camps on windchill…believers and non-believers. I BELIEVE IN WINDCHILL. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I always factor in windchill, or the “feels like” temperature…because I am a human being that feels things, and would like keep feeling things, especially my face, fingers and toes!

Re-visitng my journey towards learning to love winter and rounding up some of my best winter posts was a fun to do over a hot cup of coffee on this cold morning. I hope these stories inspire you to keep venturing outside without worrying about freezing your buns off.

How to embrace winter

I didn’t start out loving winter…

I was born and raised in Southern California…camping with my family in baja, fighting off sunburns and swimming in the ocean. We occasionally got to drive to the mountains to see a bit of snow, but surviving the cold was not a skill I learned until I was transplanted to the Northern Minnesota tundra as a teenager. Adjusting to life in a drafty old farmhouse, taught me that winter was nothing to fool around with and that keeping the wood stove full was a matter of life and death. I spent the next 20 years trying to rush through winter and going outside as little as possible.

How to embrace winter

Then we had kids…

Children have a way of making you do things you don’t want to do. Our boys wanted to play in the snow, sled down the hill, roll around like happy pandas and and even eat the stuff! They loved it! My husband was even less of a fan of winter than I was at the time, so I tried…I met their basic parental supervision needs, even had fun a few times, but wouldn’t say I loved it. Now that they are grown, I wish I had been less of a party pooper.

How to embrace winterSlaying a 3ft Ice Dam

Just embrace it, they said…

Then the winter of 2010 arrived… our boys were 7 and 10, and had mastered the art of snow fort construction. They would stay outside all day, I’d throw their wet clothes in the dryer over lunch…and they would head back out again! On December 12th, we had so much snow that the roof of the Metrodome collapsed and shortly after, we had so much snow on our own roof that ice dams formed and water was pouring into our kitchen.

How to embrace winter

You don’t have to love the cold to love winter…

Something clicked into place that year (despite all of the destruction) and I finally embraced old man winter! I learned how to fake it til ya make it, and that deciding to go outside is harder than actually doing it. I also learned how to rake the roof, tried cross country skiing and snowshoeing for the first time, watched ski and fat tire bike races and learned how to properly dress for the cold at winter Scout Camp. I fixed up old skis found on curbs and craigslist, and dove in head first, eager to learn all I could about winter and “embracing it”. 2010 is still one of the fondest winters of my life: plentiful snow, a heart full of memories and a bunch of fun new things to do outside!

How to embrace winter

Winter post round-up! Lets go!

I have written many posts about what I’ve learned about winter over the years, ranging from: gear and hacks, activities, camping successes and failures, my love for snowshoeing, and how to “just embrace it!” There’s even a dedicated WINTER category in the SKILLS tab on the top of this page. Here are a few of my faves in case you missed ’em first time around.

Winter. The very word brings dread.

The word is synonymous with cold, dreary, yucky and the death of all of seemingly every thing that lives. Some places have the promise of beautiful snow, which can be nice but still gets old fast – really fast. So we just survive it. We try to focus on the holidays and spending time with family. We buy and wear cute winter clothes and tell ourselves its fun. And we make lots of snowflake crafts in hopes that the kids will make it through winter without someone – either parent or child – losing their minds.

But what if there is another way?

How to embrace winter

There are several popular posts going around about how the Danes celebrate Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) and I found the whole concept utterly fascinating. Last year I implemented a few of those techniques – cozy blankets, lots of candles, nourishing foods – and it really did make the winter less miserable. But I was still counting the days until spring. So this year I’ve spent some real time reconnecting with nature. I’ve spent time trying to understand the seasons. I’m at a point in my life that I am tired of fighting mother nature, whether that is with the weather, my child’s behavior or simply trying to tame my unruly curly hair. I’m done with all of it. I am determined to work in sync with this beautiful world I call home.

But how does that change winter? To answer that question we need to recap the other seasons.

Spring is all about new life. Birds make their nests, cows and horses have their babies, flowers start popping out of the ground. Everything about spring screams life and new beginnings. What’s not to love about spring?

Summer is warm and fun. The grass gets brighter, more flowers come up, gardens start producing those beautiful tomatoes and peppers and we can all enjoy going with less clothes and spending more time near the water. Summer is an easy favorite.

Autumn is a time of change and joy. For many people this is the best season. The temperatures from the hot summer cool down, the leaves change into vivid colors and we can start wearing our super cute boots and jeans! Autumn is the best!

And then just about the time we have fallen in love with autumn, everything dies. The trees shed all their leaves, the grass turns brown, the flowers die, the gardens closes shop. The temperatures start getting cold and it seems to be dark right after lunch. The kids start going stir crazy because its too cold to go outside and they spend hours on end cooped up in the house. Its such a tough time.

But wait.

In my opinion, winter is arguably the most important season of the year – both to the plants and to us. Winter is when the plants send their energy into the roots and let the tops die off. Its when the plant takes a rest. Without winter, we would have no spring. Think about that. Granted, there are some gorgeous places in the world that do not see winter and they have beautiful vegetation all year. But that won’t work for all plants. Some of them need downtime. The earth needs downtime. Just as humans need rest, so does mother nature.

And speaking of humans… we need rest too.

That, my friend, is what winter is for. Winter is for soups and stews and wonderful earthy veggies like carrots, potatoes and winter squash. Winter is for cozy nights in front of the fireplace wrapped up in a warm blanket with a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate. Winter is for spending time together as a family playing dominoes and drawing beautiful art.

Winter is for rest.

The other seasons are so busy with working in the garden, caring for baby animals, jumping in the pool and riding our bikes. The sun is up so late in summer that most kids have to go to sleep when the bright rays are still streaming in their windows. There is little room for rest in spring, summer and autumn.

But winter! Winter is for working on our inner selves, Just as the plants send the energy to their roots, so we should do the same. Its a time for being introspective. A time for peace. A time for bonding with family. Why not? You are already held hostage by the early dark evenings! Its a great time to read a book together as a family or write in a diary. Its the perfect time for being still, turning off the electronics and just being.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Winter no longer sounds like a punishment.

The problem is that we don’t allow winter to be winter. We cram in holidays, trips to see family, school and church plays, holiday parties and more – in our attempt to “survive” winter. We think that if we can just pretend its not going on, then it isn’t really happening! And maybe we will make it through these cold, dreary months.

But think about it. From a health standpoint, when do people get sick most often? Winter. Do you know why? Because we get less fresh air, less vitamin D from the sun, and we load up on sugary treats and bad-for-us food. And ultimately everyone gets sick! Instead of feeding ourselves nourishing soups, stews and root veggies, we pig out on cookies, sugary drinks, and extra breads. In a time when our body desperately needs to rest, we not only deny its request for rest, but we push it to its limits.

What would happen if you went without sleep? We all know that we should stay awake for approx 16 hours a day and then spend 8 hours a day resting. What if we decided that our rest time was dreary and dark? What if we chose to spend our resting time baking and eating cookies and going to parties, how long would it take our bodies to shut down? Not long.

16 hours of play, 8 hours of rest = 8 months of play, 4 months of rest.

The secret to embracing winter is to appreciate what its purpose is. Rest and inner work. Instead of fighting it, give in to what its asking. Attend a few less events, spend more time doing peaceful work indoors, snuggle up to your family, eat those perfect nourishing winter foods (and way less cookies!)

With this mentality, I have absolutely fallen in love with winter. I encourage you to take this time in winter to rest so that when the first flowers open their blooms, the first garden seeds pop out of the ground and the first baby animal is born then you too can come out of your winter cocoon and embrace the new seasons of life(spring), fun(summer) and joy(autumn) and be ready for the season of rest(winter) to come back around again next year.

Winter in Canada takes some getting used to, especially if you’ve grown up in the tropics like my husband and I. We moved here a decade-and-a-half ago at the beginning of autumn. This was the perfect and somewhat deceiving way to be introduced to the True North. The leaves were changing colour and nature was showing off its full glory. And then bam! The dreary and dark days hit us and we felt like getting indoors and staying there for the next six months.

The memory of that first December in Canada is still quite clear. I was miserably cold those first few weeks. It took a road trip outside of the city to help me see the beauty of winter. And as we started to enjoy the outdoors, I noticed that the cold wintry landscape wasn’t colourless after all.

I’m glad that I found a way to appreciate the weather before our first child arrived. Now I’m able to have fun outside with my girls all winter long.

For those who are new to Canada, like were were, it can be overwhelming and isolating to feel stuck indoors for months on end. But there are a few tricks to help you to embrace winter, and even if you never love it, I hope these tips will help you hate it a little bit less.

Dress for the weather

Dress warm and for the season. A long, wind-resistant, warm jacket is a good start. Hats, mittens, and scarves are important as well. Next on your list — boots. These must be snug, insulated, and with a good tread so you can step over snowbanks and wade through snow without chilling your feet or slipping on the sidewalk.

And don’t think you can get away with just outfitting your kids in warm gear and skimp on yourself. The key to making sure your kids enjoy the winter months is having a parent who is equipped to get out there with them.

Get outdoors as a family

Once you’re well clad there’s no reason to hide inside. Been there, done that, not worth it. Force yourself to take the plunge, breathe in the cool fresh air, and explore. Once your boots are on there’s no reason to stand still. Start small and work your way up to longer adventures. Here are a few ideas for ways to enjoy nature in winter:

1. Create a nature scavenger hunt. This was our favourite activity when my oldest was 4. It started off simple: we’d find three pine cones — bonus points if they were all different — and as many icicles as we could. As the kids got older we made the hunt more challenging. Squirrels, birds, berries, and paw prints, all make wintery exploration more interesting.

2. Go for a walk. During my childhood in India my parents and I would go for a walk, or a hike, or to the park. Picturing that same scenario with layers of clothing, and weighed down with boots, can make it tougher to get out the door. But once you do there’s so much to enjoy. A walk in the snow can me magical. Kids will use the opportunity to climb snowbanks and make snow angels. If it’s dark bring flashlights for some extra fun. And think of the bragging rights once you make it back home.

3. Try tobogganing. Sledding is an easy start. You don’t need much for this other than a sled, a hill, and the will to slide down it. Switch it up and compete: check your time, challenge yourself and the people around you, and when you’re at the top of the hill stop and admire the view.

4. Play in the snow. Building a snowman and then destroying it, having a snowball fight with your family, and catching snowflakes on eyelashes are all joys that can be experienced only on the coldest of winter days.

5. Visit your local rink. Many of the local rinks (but not all) have skates for rent. If you’re not sure about buying skates your first winter, find one near you that will let you try it out first. Skating is something that takes getting used to but may end up being an activity your family will enjoy doing together for years to come.

Take a class

Regular structured classes help adults learn skills that may remain unfamiliar, otherwise. There are private and group classes (which are also a great opportunity to make new friends) available. Options range from guided group hikes, snowshoeing, skating, or even skiing. Learning a skill that is unique to your new environment is a way to make Canada feel more like home.

It may not always be easy to embrace winter, but this long, unpredictable season is a reality that can’t be ignored. Finding the fun and beauty is much better than hiding under the blankets. Being a role model to your kids and showing them winter is more than just something to “get through” is a gift they will look back and thank you for, and will pass on to their own children some day.

One response to “ 7 tips for embracing winter in Canada ”

Thank you so much for sharing this. What else can be done in social distancing and indoors for 2 year old? Any specific household activities? Or tips to stay warm in units where heating is mediocre?

When I tell people that I came to Panama on retreat to embrace winter, they look at me with a confused curiosity. Most people come down here to get out of winter; in the two weeks I’ve been here so far, the weather has been around 90º F daily. It doesn’t exactly feel like “winter,” as I know it in New York City.

Unless you spend time in circles where spiritual or earth wisdom is discussed often, you might not be familiar with the concept of “winter energy.” In many cultures — especially the high-achiever, goal-obsessed, hustle, go-go-go culture in which many of us travel, the concepts related to winter energy aren’t valued. We don’t even like to discuss them.

Understanding and honoring winter energy is a key component of maintaining peak health and wellness, which is important enough on its own, and also necessary for optimizing productivity. When we honor winter, we can achieving more with less effort and frustration.

I’ll share more about that latter piece in a different post.

In this post, I want to address the question that seems to cause confusion:

What exactly, does it mean to embrace winter or honor winter? And how can you do it in a warm climate?

Taking our Cues From Nature

As a starting point, we must take ourselves out of the realm of linear time and modern technology, and into the realm of nature.

In nature, time moves in cycles. We see this in the ebb and flow of the tides, the phases of the moon, sunrises and sunsets, women’s menstrual cycles, the seasons of the year, and the rhythms of days.

Every natural cycle has four major components: inception, growth, release, and rest.

  • Moon: New Moon, Waxing Half Moon, Full Moon, Waning Half Moon
  • Days: Morning, Mid-Day, Afternoon, Evening
  • Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
  • Phase of Life: Childhood, Adult, Middle Age, Old Age

What Happens in Nature’s Winter

Winter is the season of rest and dormancy. It is a time of stillness and emptiness. In colder climates, the land is frozen. The trees are bare. Nature goes internal.

Bare trees doesn’t just happen in cold climates.

Panama doesn’t have a traditional “winter” as I experience in New York. They have a dry season and a wet season. Currently we are in the dry season, which is “winter” energy. This morning, as I took in the sunrise at the beach, I noticed how many trees were completely bare. This is winter.

In Winter, the days are shorter and the nights are longer.

Before artificial light and 24/7 cycles, this was a time to embrace the darkness. It created a natural time to stay in and rest. In a time when people lived off the land, winter was traditionally a time of scarcity; they had to sustain themselves on whatever they harvested during the fall. This required reducing activity and conserving energy to conserve food and resources.

As you likely learned in elementary school, winter is the season of hibernation. Animals in hibernation have slower heart rates and limit activity to conserve energy. In winter, all of nature goes inward to replenish and restore in preparation for spring.

How Nature Teaches Us to Embrace The Energy of Winter

Energetically, “winter” is the season for clearing out and embracing the darkness. It is a time for dreaming and receiving, for getting quiet so we can hear the sound of the “still, small voice” within us.

Winter is a time for releasing, reflection, restoration, and renewal. It is a time for silence and solitude; a time to go within, a time to embrace the darkness to find the light within, to dive into the deep waters of the subconscious.

It is also a time to grieve.

Winter is a time for planning, and for being “in the mystery” of the unknown.

This is the best time for creative incubation, the period before the act of creating. It is the time for deep inner work and inner processing.

Winter is a time for dormancy and rest. A time to nurture and nourish the soul and spirit, and restore our energy for the spring.

Winter is Not Just a Time of Year

This “winter energy” doesn’t apply only at a specific time of year or in specific weather. We experience “winters” in all areas of our lives.

Have you ever completed a major project and then felt unmotivated to do any work for a while? That’s the winter that comes after a big harvest and completion.

In a recession, or downtime in business, you might experience an “economic winter.”

A stay-at-home mom experiences a winter when all of her kids go off to school. Empty-nesters experience winter when their kids move out of the house. Selling a home, divorce, death of a loved one, ending a relationship or a job — all of these life moments create energetic “winter” in our lives.

We need not be in cold weather or arctic climates to experience winter or embrace winter. In fact, as I’ll share in a future article, we might get the most benefit out of embracing winter in a warm climate by the beach.

How to embrace winter

Which season do you like the most? For so many people, it’s summer. But I adore Winter the most. I find it so enjoyable that I thought I’d write a Winter Survival Guide. This is mainly to help those who aren’t so keen on Winter and want to find a way to not only survive it, but to enjoy it too!

This Winter Survival guide is mainly aimed at people living in the Northern Hemisphere, where the mornings get dark and the days are short. Think ‘getting dark at 4pm’ kind of dark.

Winter Survival Guide #1 ‘Hygge’

I’m a huge lover of ‘Hygge’ and this is where I always start. I embrace all things that mean comfort and coziness to me. For some people this can be snuggled up at home under blankets watching a film. To me, the ultimate ‘Hygge’ is taking the dogs out and walking in nature. Getting muddy and wet, arriving home with red cheeks and damp hair…I just love it.

I urge you to find your Hygge and you’ll see winter in a completely different light. Remember, Hygge isn’t about how aesthetic your house looks, it’s about activities that make you feel cozy.

Winter Only Activities

One of our favourite ways to embrace winter, is to do activities that are ONLY possible during the winter.

For us, it’s ice skating. We have gone to a local ice rink in the winter every year for many years. You don’t need to be good at it (it’s even more fun if you’re not great at it!),. You just need to be willing to give it a go.

Winter vitamins

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or low mood when it gets darker, consider trying a Vitamin D supplement.

A deficiency in Vitamin D can cause low mood and tiredness. These can also be quite common in the dark winter months. You can build up your stores of Vitamin D during the summer but this isn’t always possible. So, to be on the safe side, a Vitamin D supplement is advised.

And most importantly, if you feel yourself experiencing low mood and tiredness, it’s always worth consulting your health care professional.

Socialize!

It’s easy to hibernate at home over the winter. It can seem unappealing, as you don’t want to go out in the rain to meet friends.

But it’s the 21 st Century and there is such a thing as the internet! Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, Facetime, are all great ways of staying in touch with people. You can dress up and hold an online bingo/pub quiz with loved ones.

Or if you are able to get out and about, don’t let the weather stop you. Walk your dogs together, go for a coffee, there are so many things to do!

I hope this has helped some of you to see that winter isn’t all doom and gloom. You can make it fun and exciting too. Winter isn’t just something to be tolerated, you can thrive!

As a transplant from California, I was excited to see snowflakes my first winter in Utah Valley—but the charm wore off fast.

A few years ago, my husband, Ellis, and I made it our quest to embrace winter outside—we went hiking, we went skiing, we even lugged sleds up Slate Canyon and slid back down. Now, as parents to two little kids who love playing outside no matter the weather, embracing the winter outdoors is even more important.

In finding ways to entertain our own kids, and also in starting the RentalShare co-op last year and helping others in the community gear up for their winter adventures, we’ve collected ideas for how you and your kids can play outside all winter long.

1. Take a Winter Walk

Winter walks are a great way to acclimate to the weather and get ready for bigger adventures. Start by bundling up in layers and going around the block or to a local park, or even the Provo River Trail. Our family loves to stroll through the Riverwoods to see holiday lights and firepits, with the option to duck inside stores or restaurants for some food and warmth.

2. Play in a Winter Wonderland

Even when there’s no snow in your yard, you can always find some up in the mountains.

One of our favorite places for a kid’s snow day is South Fork Park in Provo Canyon. With a few gentle hills perfect for first-time sledders, plus a bubbling creek and plenty of space for snowmen, you and your family can find hours of fun. For more ideas on where to go sledding check out “8 Epic Places to go Sledding in Utah Valley”.

3. Take a Hike

In Utah County, hiking can be a year-round activity—even with kids. The trick to winter hiking is solid traction so you don’t slip, and good support so you don’t sink. Strap microspikes onto your shoes for traction on packed trails. For deeper snow, snowshoes offer both float and traction, and they come in both adult and child sizes.

Basically, any hiking trail you enjoy in the summer is fair game, so long as the road is open. Stewart Falls and Big Springs, both in Provo Canyon, are local favorites for families. If you’ve got older kids up for the challenge, slip on a pair of microspikes and hike through Rock Canyon, maybe even up to the Squaw Peak summit. While most popular trails are generally safe, bring extra water and a first aid kit, plus follow Utah Avalanche Center for snow safety tips and to check the latest conditions.How to embrace winter

4. Hit the Slopes

A day (or night) on the slopes is a quintessential Utah Valley experience. Once your family has learned to embrace the cold, you’re ready to head up to Sundance Mountain Resort, a world-class ski and snowboard destination just a short drive up Provo Canyon. Sundance is a friendly place for beginners, and perhaps best of all, kids under six ski free. The resort offers lessons for first-timers, plus fun beyond the slopes—cross country skiing, groomed snowshoe trails, restaurants, not to mention a winter zipline. We’ve even taken our kids just to walk around the base village, stop by the cafe for a giant cookie, and sit around the fire pit at the bottom of the chair lift to watch the skiers.

How to embrace winter

5. Embrace the Cold

Wherever you are on your winter journey, use this season to get out more, embrace the cold, and enjoy everything Utah Valley has to offer. And if you need snowshoes, snowboards, or anything else to make the most of your winter adventure, be sure to drop by RentalShare, where you can browse your neighbors’ outdoor gear in our community garage, and rent what you need for your next adventure. We’d love to see you, in the shop or in the snow.