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  • Writer's pictureHyparxis Perservation


Wintery cabin in the sunlight in the Smoky Mountains.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923.

As you read this post, let's set the stage. Grab the following items:

  • Candlelight

  • Ambient music (a playlist such as this)

  • Tea or warm beverage

  • Cozy blanket (s)

  • Dog nearby (or cat, or stuffed animal)

Winter is hard to love sometimes. Those active individuals who bask in the warmth of the sun go scurrying inside, setting the tone for hibernation. The nights get so dark, making it tricky to want to be active past 4:30 pm some days, timezone dependant.

Yet, what the winter teaches may be the wisest lesson of all.

Winter teaches us to slow down, look inside, observe, and care for ourselves.

A personal touch, Tracy avoided winter for a long time. Declaring each October that it she would be cold from then until May, her actions followed suit. She used to run from the car to the indoors screaming or mumbling curses at winter.

More relevantly, SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) followed. Along with the inside time came increased drinking, increased hiding, and increased depression. Tracy's typically sunny disposition dramatically changed with the seasons.

Winter does not have to be lived this way - inside, running from the cold, and battling depression.

In fact, the joy that winter provides, the rest, the solace, the friggin' cozy settings can actually be celebrated.

Tracy was able to change her diagnosis of SAD, and maybe you can, too. Or so that is our hope.

Here are some suggestions for making winter joyful, perhaps changing your mindset, and maybe even lifting your mood during winter:

  1. Get outside in winter, daily. No, this is not fun initially, nor does it seem like something that you want to do, until you make it a habit. Dress in layers, add your gloves and toboggan, and just go. Maybe take the dog (they too need the outside even in the winter months) or invite a friend. Maybe walk around the block, or sit on the porch with tea, or walk to the coffee shop. Make it enjoyable. Your mind will thank you. So will your pooch!

  2. Practice the art of hygge this winter. There is a reason my Danish friend is happier than most in the cold. She cold plunges, bikes in 30 degrees, and wears cozy sweaters that she knits herself. She also happens to make phenomenal pottery for those cozy winter beverages. Practicing this art of wintering truly makes the entire experience enjoyable. Don't take my word for it, try it!

  3. Pick up a winter hobby. When Tracy met Chad, she asked him over one of their first dinners what his favorite season was; he replied winter. Tracy was shocked. Hers was summer and maybe they wouldn't work after all. Eight years of marriage, and ten years together have proven her wrong. One of the keys? His love for snow meant Tracy either learned to adapt or be left home. Not one for being left behind, nor having a boy beat her athletically, she decided snowboarding would be the key. As a former ski instructor, Chad had many moons of experience ahead of Tracy in the snow. Yet, persistence and some shed tears led Tracy to now join Chad in the backcountry on her splitboard. If you had asked Tracy 20 years ago if that was going to be possible, she would have said no. Now, try and catch her.

What if this winter you took the time to journal, knit, take up a pottery class, or read more? How can you find more joy in your life during the time of settling down? What if we embraced the lessons that winter teaches us in the slowdown?

We hope that winter becomes a friend, a companion, and a time for you to reflect, and be with the ones you love. If you find you struggle with mental health and winter, do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. The National Institute of Mental Health has many articles and resources for those who experience seasonal affect disorder or any other mental health struggle.

Additional Resources Available for Seasonal Affect Disorder or Other Mental Struggles

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

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