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Every mile is two in Winter. ~Witts Recreations: Selected from the Finest Fancies of Modern Muses, with A Thousand Outlandish Proverbs, edited by George Herbert

The chime of silver bells, the warmth of a gingerbread latte, the smell of fresh snow- there are so many reasons to be happy and calm during the cold months. So it can feel twice as harsh when these things lose their luster. What do you do when the Winter Woes start to affect you? It can happen to anyone, and it can make you feel like an outsider even in the company of friends and family. Many people get the winter blues, and it can happen for many different reasons. Depression sufferers get can get the brunt of it during winter. Seasonal-Affective Disorder (SAD) is also a huge culprit. Simply the stress of holiday shopping, family get-togethers, and work parties can trigger a wealth of worry. It may even be a lack of vitamin D that turns you from giggly to Grinch. Whatever the reason, you aren’t alone. Don’t feel guilty that the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ isn’t feeling so wonderful to you. Here are a few tips I’ve learned that can help you cope until the sun starts shining again.

An Orphans Christmas

Are you alone in a big city, thousands of miles away from home? It may be that this Christmas you will be spending away from your family, maybe even for the very first time. Don’t despair! While its tough to watch as your friends and colleagues make plans to go home for the holidays, you will be making plans too! One idea is called ‘An Orphans Christmas’. It was told by me to my kiwi flat mate, and so I pass it on to you my lovelies! It is designed to bring together everyone in the same boat as you, away from family. It is not only orphan-friendly, it is wallet-friendly too! Here’s how it works!:

1. Pick a day that works for each orphan. It may not be on the holiday itself, it can be a day before or after. The precise date doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are all together.
2. Pound (or Dollar) store budget. Everyone goes to the pound store and selects one item for each orphan. This can be a candle, a bag of sweets, even a novelty squirt gun from the kids section. Whatever you think may float his or her boat! If you have five orphans to buy for, you have spent a total of five pounds. What a thrifty Santa you are!
3. Wrap up the gifts in fun and appealing paper, write the recipients name, and put them in a designated area. This could be under a cardboard Christmas tree made of toilet rolls lovingly by you and your flat mates, on a fold-out chair from Ikea, or another likely spot you will find in your average flat or apartment.
4. Get to cooking and make yo Mama proud!!! Each orphan makes one dish. Maybe It’s sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, or your Auntie’s 5 layer salsa bean dip! Make sure you each make something to contribute to your orphan dinner!
5. Put on some jolly music, don your Christmas hats (handmade or otherwise), and enjoy an evening of frivolity! You may be away from family, but at least you’re in the company of friends!

Get Cuddly

Think about it. Was there ever a time that being warm and cuddly made you feel sad? Exactly. This is the time to make sure you have everything you need to stay snug and warm. Here’s a makeshift list of some essentials. If it seems a bit excessive, remember that winter takes up 9 months out of the year. That’s correct.
1. Chunky Sweater

I’ve had great luck going through my moms closet and picking out some lovely vintage sweaters! (Pro Tip: Tell her you are ‘borrowing’ it for inspection and will let her know the results in a few months time.) With sweaters, I’ve found that the bigger, the better seems to work best when it comes to snuggling down. For example, with a big sweater, you can tuck your knees up under the sweater itself, making a sort of sweater-cocoon. You can also wear winter leggings and not have to worry about being too bootylicious, as the sweater will come down over your derriere!

2. Fuzzy Socks

These are extremely important. After a long day of being on your feet, you need to let them know you appreciate their hard work. Here’s a trick I learned from my friend Marica in Milan, who works in fashion and is on her feet all day. When you get home, run a tiny bath big enough for your footsies. Soak them in the warm water and suds them up, washing away the day. Towel dry them and apply some moisturizer. (Pro Tip: Put your fuzzy socks on a radiator, in the dryer, or on a heated towel rack. If your crappy landlords have yet to turn on your heating, grab your blow dryer and stick the nozzle down the neck of your socks. Then wrap them in a towel to keep in the heat. Do this before you start soaking your tootsies!) Take your moisturized feet and place them inside your heated fuzzy socks. Now tell me if there’s anything in life much better than that.

3. A Soft Hat and Scarf

The right winter hat is like a hug for your head! Likewise the right scarf is like a boa constrictor of cuddlyness. Only non-lethal, w which is a definite plus! Mix and match! Try your nearest TK Maxx (or TJ Maxx) for cheaper options. (Pro Tip: A hat with dingle-bongs. Is this childish? No. Is this resourceful? Yes! A hat that comes down over your ears with dingle-bongs on strings on each side will keep you extra warm. You can tie the strings under your chin on windy days for extra warmth. You can also put googly eyes on the dingle-bongs)

4. Other things to think about: Cozy slippers, a furry blanket, a hot water bottle with a fun cover, leggings, a fuzzy robe, ear muffs, lined gloves, leg warmers, long ponchos, lining your room with wood and turning it into a sauna, making friends with the snow bunnies and snuggling in with them, hibernating with a furry animal, going MIA and stowing away on a cruise liner for a month or so.

“I aint no stowaway I swearz!”

 

Find your Inner Calm

Are you laying in bed, afraid to touch the ice cold floor of your room, staring at the ceiling in the dark and wondering why the gods have chosen you for a slow and sad demise? Is that the Hooded Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come staring into your window? Snap out of it! Turn your Snow Queen into a Happy Elf!

1. Light some holiday scented candles

Martha Stewart has nothing on you! Grab some candles in ‘Holiday Spice’, ‘Merry Marshmallow’, ‘Sugar Cookie’, ‘Apple Cinnamon’, ‘Chesnut and Clove’, or another winter warmer. The effect of scent on relaxation is scientific, and not only will these candles warm up your room (because your crappy landlords have yet to turn on the heating!) they will fill it with happy memories and send you into winter calm.

2. Find music that speaks to your Inner Snow Angel

My personal favourite music to listen to in order to feel happy and relaxed is classic music. It’s easy to find playlists on YouTube, or listen online to a radio station. Classic FM has some beautiful music and adjusts their style depending on the time of day. This means you won’t be blasted by trumpets at 1am when you just want to sleep. Try some smooth jazz! Maybe some nice choral arrangements! Or look up ‘spa music’ and see what you find. (Pro Tip: If you know your way around YouTube, open two tabs or windows. In one, type ‘smooth jazz’ and find music that soothes you. In the other, type in ‘crackling log fire’ and choose one that sounds realistic. Now play them both together. Ahh!)

3. Stock up on herbal teas

‘Herbal Unwind’, ‘Sleepytime’, ‘Winter Spice’, anything that appeals to you is a good idea. Try to make sure your box is caffeine-free. Now go ‘Good Housekeeping’ on yourself and add a stick of cinnamon, a dusting of nutmeg, or a slice of orange to your cup.

Lovelies, I hope these tips will help you stay chipper during the darkest months. Remember, if you are feeling like you can’t cope, don’t hesitate to seek help. tell a loved one, a friend, a family member, anyone who can assist you in getting help. Below are some links that can help you get started:

http://www.depressionuk.org/national_links.shtml
http://psychcentral.com/lib/telephone-hotlines-and-help-lines/000173

 

 

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