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Embracing the darker days: 9 tips to prep & thrive

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

The darker days have arrived, and boy do I feel it. I’m not a big fan of Dutch winter time. It’s not a winter with sunny days and snow, but mostly just a long, grey and wet season. So, with the dark and colder days around the corner, the least I can do is prepare myself to make it bearable, and perhaps even enjoyable?!

#1 Uplevel your self-care practice

Winter is your permission slip to slow down and rest! While our societies are built on a 24-hour economy that makes us believe it’s normal to be “on” 24/7, we only have to look at nature, to realise that we too are cyclical beings. Winter is a wonderful time to slow down, practice JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) and uplevel your self care practice. Indulge in loving rituals such as hot baths with soothing scents, relaxing music and candle light; journaling; making art; meditation and yoga. BONUS tip: I love to include abhyanga, an Ayurvedic self massage with warm oils, to my daily rituals. Have a look at this video to see how it’s done.

#2 Dress smarter!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but hear me out. For years, I simply accepted that when it’s cold outside, I would feel cold. Coming from a country without severe winters, I believe we haven’t learned how to dress properly for the cold. Even though we can have occasional days with temperatures down to -10 degrees, it wasn’t until I experienced a proper winter holiday in the Alps that I realised I need proper winter clothing. And what a game changer that is, wow! 🤯

Why didn’t I know this before? All those cold winters for no reason! So, here are some tips: wear layers, thermal clothing under a fleece sweater, long (thermal) underwear/leggings under your pants, merino wool, and of course a proper winter jacket and winter boots! The expression "There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing" has gotten more truth in my life.

#3 Join a (personal development) program / men or women's circle

I feel the winter is a good time for introspection and personal growth. You can reach out to a coach, but you can also get yourself the support by joining a group program, a men/ women circle or create your own circle which is aimed at enhancing the well being of the people involved. Having a regular cozy gathering throughout the darker season where you check in with one another, feel seen and supported, can be like a bright spot during the darker days.

#4 Adjust your exercise routine (and find a sports facility with sauna!)

In summer, moving my body happens naturally. Even if I don’t engage in a specific sport, I walk, swim, and bike around a lot. In winter, I tend to become lazier, but that is exactly when I need those happy hormones the most. So, find a fun indoor sports, or get a good pair of running shoes, like I did. Bonus: Find yourself a sports studio with a sauna. Seriously, what a game changer! Taking a dance class or hitting the gym, and after relaxing in the sauna is what keeps the dark moods at bay! This is totally worth the extra pennies.

#5 Adjust your food intake & learn about Ayurveda

Eat warmer, nourishing meals, with warm spices such as ginger, turmeric and cloves. Why not get yourself an Ayurvedic cook book or google some recipes to find out more about perfectly warming, comforting meals that nourish both the body and the soul. I am a big fan of (Ayurvedic) stews! In general, Ayurveda – the Indian wisdom about living a good and healthy life – has many wonderful tips to help you adapt to the change of seasons depending on your constitution. Never heard of Ayurveda? Read more about it here.

#6 Cold plunge (or go surfing)!

Now that the water is still at a pleasant temperature, it’s the perfect time to start cold plunging and slowly adapting to colder temperatures. Besides the dopamine rush which makes you feel alive and kicking, it helps your body adapt to the colder weather! Bonus that it’s outside, so you get your much needed dose of Vitamine D (which you also need to supplement). Instead of cold plunges, I’d like to keep on surfing for as long as my body can handle it. I love that when it’s wet and grey outside, surfing makes the weather feel less like an obstacle, or a reason to stay in.

#7 Find a sit spot & connect to nature

Find yourself a spot in nature, preferably close to your home, and make it a weekly ritual to spend time there. Take in the changing scenery of trees, plants, and animals, and let yourself be captivated by the wonders of the natural world. By immersing yourself in nature and appreciating its beauty and harmony while it's continuously transforming, perhaps you'll find it easier to embrace the winter for what it is. Much like the ever-changing scenery, our lives too are in constant motion, and this connection with nature can teach us to flow with the changes.

#8 Find a winter hobby

Whether it's picking up an instrument, exploring creative hobbies like ceramics or knitting, or finally diving into all those books and learning the language you intended to, winter is the ideal time to create a cozy nook in your home and indulge in activities just for you.

#9: Incorporate acts of services!

We tend to focus a lot on ourselves, especially when we are feeling a bit down. All this me-focus is however detrimental for your mood. Shift your focus to your surroundings and see where you can be of help. Start volunteering for a local charity, bring around soup and hot drinks for persons without a home, or clean up the streets you live in. Whatever your interests, there is always room to contribute to a cause that inspires you. By doing a good deed, you will instantly feel better, and it'll also help you see the good in your own life.

What’s your best tip to prepare and adjust to the colder, darker days?



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