Dozens of Christmas trees lay scattered across wet pavements, waiting to be recycled. The twinkling lights and decorations are packed away for yet another year; its very easy to feel deflated in what I call “the Monday of the year” January.
As I have said before, I do love my country, but due to the short days and somewhat erratic weather, the winter months can be a tad daunting for me . Being a sufferer of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), from October I have to mentally prepare myself for the deluge of darkness coming my way (okay that’s a tad dramatic but you know what I mean). As an early riser, I often arrive and depart from work in the hours of darkness. Therefore, as you know I’m a lover of the sun and warmth, you can imagine my desire to run to the nearest airport and pick the sunniest location possible. But of course this is real life, so over the years I have learned new ways of coping through these times, for when I hear the dreaded words….winter is coming! (No that isn’t a Game of Thrones pun).
This has to be my most favourite past time. Even the mention of the word travel and my heart quickens! There is nothing better than organising a future trip to the sun, as it keeps your mind focused on something positive and uplifting, and of course it’s a welcomed distraction. The whole process provides me with the exact positive lift I need to start the year. From deciding and researching the destination, the excitement of actually making the booking and the lead up to the departure, I can’t help but enjoy every part of the process. Just knowing that I am going to see another part of the world and add more wonderful memories to my life is enough to make me forget at least some of the winter blues. By planning my trips in advance I am able to fully delve into the process of researching the best possible places to visit to get the most out of my trip and it allows me to budget accordingly. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for my next trip….Morocco!
Quality (not quantity) Social Circle
Its difficult to meet up with people in winter as most people just want to stay cosy in their homes or their wallets are rather bare after the recent festivities. However, meeting up with people doesn’t have to be all glamour and expense. I find at this time of the year, especially when I am feeling a tad low, its best to surround myself with inspiring and positive people. Whether its eating in together, a trip to the cinema or even a wander around the city, as long as I have the chance to catch up with my favourite people it certainly helps perk me up. It’s great to share your woes and worries with people who are caring and non-judgmental and have a genuine affection for you. The last thing you want is to be exerting unnecessary energy with people who bring you down and aren’t interested in anything you have to say, so the companionship with my nearest and dearest is an effortless joy that brings so much fulfilment to me.
Food & Fitness
I am passionate with trying new foods or experimenting with the latest recipes and I find cooking in winter time, even if it just soup, helps me relax and unwind. After all, what is better than sitting inside on a cold and wet day with a steaming casserole or homemade soup? Keeping my protein levels up and fat and sugar levels down can sometimes become a challenge. This is where my obsession with The Body Coach comes in. His books and social media are really inspiring, although I admit to not following the lifestyle completely, I find his recipes to be fantastic for quick, healthy and most importantly tasty meals. The last thing I want is to be spending ages over the stove to eat the same old boring food. Following his recipes certainly helps me with keeping the taste buds alive while getting the nutrition that I need.
Although the dark evenings tell your body to go home and snuggle under a duvet, I don’t think I could survive without my trips to the gym. Even if my mind is saying “no” I always feel much better if I push myself to go. I don’t beat myself up if each session isn’t as intense as I wanted it to be, but when my heart is racing, the sweat is dripping from my skin and I step out into the cold air after an invigorating workout it makes it all worth it in the end. Even if I manage half an hour on a treadmill it still makes me feel better knowing that I am keeping my body and mind motivated at a time where they just want to shut down.
I don’t punish myself though and still manage to sneak in a cake or two. These months are hard enough without denying your body of the small things that provide you with so much delight.
The Danish have “hygge”, The Swedes have “mys” so why can’t the Scot’s have something similar. Its all to do with taking the time out and appreciating the simple pleasures in life. This is very important to me as in todays unsettled and impatient world you often get lost in all its craziness. One of my favourite ways to experience this is to light some candles, have a warming cup of fresh leaf herbal tea, sit back and enjoy the moment of calm that washes over me.
Those that know me know that I am obsessed with candles that have become a compulsory part of my home. Their calming warm flicker and soothing fragrance brightens the mood on days when I am not feeling myself . Presently, I am enjoying the Jo Malone White Jasmine and Mint candle. It’s uplifting aroma conjures positive and sunny memories of a time in Spain, where the beautiful scented jasmine clung to the wall outside my villa, filling my nostrils every time I walked passed it.
Tea is a new fascination for me (shock! a British person not liking tea) as I am more of a coffee drinker myself. That is until, I was introduced to the amazing tea tourist, a subscription service that sends out small sachets of teas every month from numerous different companies. Their recent winter selection was heart-warming and comforting. My favourite being “Scotch Acorns” by Nothing But Tea, a blend of Ceylon tea with cocoa kernels, carob bits, coconut chips, hazelnut praline, chopped almonds, cardamom, macadamia nuts, vanilla bits, white cornflower petals, scotch whisky, oak wood extract and cinnamon. This tea subscription company has definitely opened up my eyes to the world of teas and their varied and interesting flavours.
Escape to the country
Whether its just a few hours, a day or an overnight stay, sometimes it’s great to escape your normal surroundings and soak up some new sights, sounds or smells, especially in the countryside. Living in the City of Edinburgh we are so lucky to be surrounded by beautiful hills, woods and greenery. In my previous posts I have described some of these places. Sometimes its great just to get in the car, drive until my heart’s content and breath in some new air and escape the bubble of life that sometimes consumes me. Walking in nature is said to relieve stress and anxiety and of course provide you with some exercise at the same time, so why wouldn’t you want to do it.
Let there be light
I couldn’t survive without my little ray of sunshine (literally). The Lumie Brightspark SAD light is my savour in the winter. It provides me with much needed light in times where it is so sparse. I simply place it on my work space and switch it on in the dark hours of the morning (I start at 7am). Replicating a summer’s day light this little piece of essential equipment gives me an added boost of energy and positivity when I really need it. It will never replace the real thing of course, so I always leave the office every lunch time to try and get as much natural light as possible.
Home is where the Heart Is
Being stuck in doors in bad weather can sometimes give me a little feeling of cabin fever. What is better than completing those house hold projects that you have been meaning to do for a while. I must admit I am an impatient person and can get easily bored, so I constantly need to keep my senses stimulated. Creating a new space to relax, painting a wall a new colour or even changing a piece of wall art is all that is needed. The action of moving, changing or creating something new, gives me a euphoric and energetic boost and keeps my creative juices flowing. In winter you spend most of the time indoors, therefore, does it not make sense to make your surroundings as uplifting as possible? Your home should be your little nest where you can escape the world and feel safe and comfortable. Hence, creating a space that is to my taste is essential for me to feel settled and relaxed.
The weather isn’t all doom and gloom, Edinburgh takes on a new personality at this time of the year. Its old grey buildings are much more suited to this weather, soaking up the dark ambiance and standing strong in the winds that often whirl around the cobbled streets at this time of year. This year has also seen some dramatically stunning sunsets, with the sun being so low it manages to hit the clouds and buildings at a perfect angle, illuminating them with hues of pinks and oranges, bringing an illusion of warmth to the city. With the encouragement of a friend I’ve took this opportunity to capture these moments and start experimenting with photography. It is something I have never thought of doing before but the sense of catching image so beautiful and sharing it with the world is very enriching.
I recently treated myself to a new Nikon D3400, so hopefully after a bit more experience I will be able to capture many amazing sights more effectively.
Last but not least is Blogging. Believe it or not blogging really helps during the winter months and gives my mind some kind of focus. Not only does it allow me to record experiences in my life and share them with other people, it allows me to meet like-minded individuals and reminds me that the world is still full of creative, positive and friendly people. The amount of encouragement and feedback that I have received has been fantastic and uplifting. It has allowed me to communicate with people all over the world, where I have enjoyed learning about their experiences and their lives in different countries. Due to this, I’m managed to make new friends and show them around my own city. Where are the positives, there are of course the people who discount blogging as some meaningless pastime. Everyone are entitled to their own opinion, however I wonder how something so beneficial can be so meaningless. It is certainly something that I personally enjoy and will continue to enjoy for some time and if it provides me with all these benefits how can I not continue?