January and February can easily be two of the toughest months to get through. After a busy and indulgent holiday season of celebrating and visiting with family and friends, the new year settles into rhythms of discipline. At least until the bleak winter days slowly suck away motivation and we find ourselves cuddled up on the couch under our favorite down blanket, refusing to emerge before the daffodils and robins do.
Shorter darker days, inclement weather, and keeping our credit cards and diets in check are limits of one sort or another that can make our worlds feel small in the new year. It’s in these moments that I find myself reaching for simple rituals of comfort that stir up gratitude and joy, lest I spend all my time complaining about cold feet and drafty doors. I know that each season serves its purpose, and want to yield to the quiet rest of winter, even though it can feel like life’s pause button has been pressed for too long.
In seeking to embrace gratitude and contentment in the winter, I polled people on Facebook and Instagram and wanted to hear about what simple joys you love to embrace. This list of rituals is only a brief compilation of what people shared, plus a few of my own. If you struggle with these midwinter days, like I do, I hope you’ll find some new ways for inviting contentment and joy into your life as you wait for life to bloom again.
Find hidden beauty
When the temperature drops and I feel like I’m forced to hibernate, I get restless very quickly. Bundle up and explore the a local or state park—now bare of wildflower and leaf—and you’ll be awed at what you notice. My eye is drawn to evidences of life at these times… a belted kingfisher at the river’s edge, a bit of patchy moss nestled in tree roots, a bright red cardinal in the thicket, even the lichen on decaying branches. These are gifts I miss when foliage is thick and everything is in bloom. The outdoors are rich with treasures in every season - a continual reminder that beauty and life can always be found when we slow ourselves to seek it out.
Cozy up with a hot cuppa
Whether tea, hot chocolate or coffee is your thing, an overwhelming number of you enjoyed the simple ritual of cozying up with a hot beverage between your hands. How can you make this simple act one that carves out a place of peace in your day? Here’s a beautiful story of one woman’s tea ritual with her children. Maybe you can pair yours with reading a short devotional, saying a prayer or a engaging in a creative outlet. Bonus: here are a couple quick ways you can make your own hot chocolate with fresh ingredients.
Enjoy some comfort food
The great thing about winter is it’s never too warm to enjoy a hot cup of soup or some soul-satisfying chili. Enjoy the opportunity to use your oven without worrying about the house getting too hot. Roasted veggies and fresh baked bread are just a few of my favorite things that are better enjoyed in winter.
Grab a book instead
When I can’t go outside, it’s easy to spend way too much time with my face staring at a screen, be it my phone or the TV. This month my husband and I have been watching less and reading more. Curling up with a book, especially before bed, disconnects me from the comparison trap of social media and settles me down for a more restful night’s sleep.
Snuggle up and create
Warm slippers, warm blankets, warm scarves - basically we just want to be cozy! Why not take the opportunity to knit a throw blanket or crochet a scarf for use during the colder months? Bonus that you get to enjoy some downtime while making something beautiful.
Celebrate forced rest
Shoveling may not be so fun, but everyone loves a snow day. We all need an excuse to stay in and relax from time to time. Do you have any snow day rituals, like making french toast or hot chocolate? Or maybe it’s a great excuse for family time playing board games or catching up on Netflix? Celebrating ordinary, magical moments delight the child in all of us and grow our appreciation of the season.