The Go Wild Go West blog

Think Like a Norwegian: beat the winter blues and embrace everything winter has to offer

Beat the winter blues

Last week seemed to be a particularly bad week for pretty much everyone – enthusiasm for the school run has worn off pretty quickly, energy levels are definitely on the wane, and the children are already unbelievably snotty from the first cold that’s doing the rounds (despite bubbles, sanitiser stations and god knows what other measures).  And then……. Boris took to the lectern and told us what we all knew already – a looooonnnnggggg winter lies ahead – cancel Christmas, no parties, I wouldn’t bother planning any holidays and don’t even think about having fun!

Embrace winter

An article in the Guardian last weekend by psychologist Kari Leibowitz gave me a little ray of sunshine to my melancholy outlook of last week.  It set something of a challenge – how to embrace both lockdown and the winter with a positive mindset.  She says that if you can do that, you’ll have a significantly better time of it than entering into this phase with a sense of impending gloom.

She has just published her research on the community that live in Tromsø, the the Norwegian city situated 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.  There, at that latitude, from mid-November to mid-January, the sun will never rise above the horizon.  And yet, the people living there positively embrace the long winter months and all the opportunities the season brings.

sunrise in winter
Sunset in winter

Think Like a Norwegian

Leibowitz completed her research before COVID was ‘a thing’, but she is certain the psychological resilience of the people of Tromsø is a mindset that can be learnt and adopted by everyone in the northern hemisphere facing the prospect of a winter of restrictions.  Instead of viewing winter as ‘boring’ and ‘limiting’, by trying to focus on the positives such as the changes in the weather and landscape and the ‘cosiness’ of the winter months, we can determine how happy and content we will be over the next 6 months.

I most definitely do not want to be miserable for the next 6 months, so my challenge is to list all the positive things I can take from lock-down AND the things I like about winter and use those lists to build a positive mindset for the months ahead.

windy Malverns
Enjoying the wilder side of winter

Lockdown lessons

So, thinking back now, there were many things about lock-down that were very positive:

  • Time to slow down
  • Noticing the changing season
  • Watching plants, birds and animals coming out of hibernation
  • My new biking group – established in lockdown when the pubs were closed and now one of the highlights of my week.
  • Drawing and painting (albeit very badly)
  • Enjoying long walks
  • Cold river dips
  • Experimental cooking and trying new ingredients
  • Taking time to call old friends and have a catch up

Winter happiness

Things I love about winter:

  • The prospect of wild weather
  • That feeling once you’ve been out in the wind and rain, had a shower, dried off and finally get a cup of tea
  • Really bright stars and crisp, cold nights
  • Beautiful, frosty mornings
  • Faster flowing rivers for rafting
  • Fairy lights and Christmas decorations (the tasteful ones of course)
  • Christmas carols
  • Feeding the birds (and being able to see them as the trees are without their leaves)
  • Mulled wine
  • Hot chocolate and rum
  • Roast potatoes and crumpets (not together)
  • Lighting the fire 
  • Sitting on the sofa and relishing the prospect of not having to go out anywhere
  • Power cuts and ‘camping’ in the sitting room by the fire
  • Bonfires in the garden 
  • Snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils

There’s definitely some cross over between those two lists!  I think it may be a challenge convincing myself that yet another walk in the wind and rain is ‘bracing’ rather that just wet and cold, especially if I can’t go into the pub to warm up because I forgot my facemask,  but I’m going to give it a go nonetheless!

What can we learn from lockdown? Check out our article (published by the Ordnance Survey) on the new Lockdown Lifestyle here.

Are you fully kitted for winter adventures? Check out our top tips on dressing for winter here