15 ways to ward off seasonal depression.

November 6, 2017

I wrote this moderately tongue-in-cheek list of ways to ward off seasonal depression over the weekend because the nights just got very long and the days just got very short and my gosh it’s been a shitty year. And then I learned that twenty-six people were shot dead in a Texas church. This, less than a week after eight people in my own city were mowed down by a truck on the West Side Highway. I do not know the right thing to do. I know that seasonal crafts feel small and pitiful in the face of gun violence and terrorism. I know that festive mittens aren’t solving world crises. I also know that winter is long and taking a vow of joylessness won’t help matters either.

In spite of everything, here’s a list to consult now that we’ve reached the season of fumbling around in the dark while making morning coffee. Please, oh, please, fill the comments section with your own bits of brilliance:

1. Make a twee lantern to ward off the dark. Gather a small honeynut squash, hollow out the inside, cut a series of questionably artful slashes, and plop in a candle. If you happen to have a precocious three-year-old in your midst, school them on fire safety and watch them delight in their glowing orb before they abandon it to run pell-mell down the sidewalk two minutes later, leaving you to carry the lighted orb yourself like some kind of wacky autumn fairy.

2. Invite friends over for chili. (Invite yourself over for chili at a friends’ house). Shrug your shoulders when you realize your child has only eaten a spoonful of rice but a fistful of candy corn. There are worse things.

3. Bake cookies. (Any kind.)

4. Stock up on candles. Trim your wicks so they don’t burn down too fast. (Decide whether you, like me, want to develop a mildly obsessive habit of saving wax and remelting it to shape more candles.

5. Commit to cheery cold-weather accessories. Persimmon-colored mittens, anyone?

6. Make pumpkin pie from scratch.

7. Go watch strangers exert themselves for sport. Yell encouraging things. Have you ever yelled “You! Look! Amazing!” at the top of your lungs? Give it a try. You cannot stay sad when yelling those words.

8. Get into nature. Turn off your phone. Gather up acorns. Wonder what you’re going to do with them. Nothing. Do nothing with your collected acorns but marvel at them.

9. Take up a new hobby. Bread-baking! Watercoloring!

10. Find the neighborhood bar or restaurant with live music and make a pilgrimage. Same place, same time, as often as possible, with the entire brood if you’re able.

11. Clean out your kitchen cabinets. Match up your jars and their lids. Recycle the ones you don’t need. 

12. Place a winter bulb order. Force a little bit of cheeriness inside. (Or a big bit.)

13. Believe in magic

14. Give yourself permission to change into pajamas as early as possible.

15. Get into nature again. Turn off your phone. Gather up pinecones. Contemplate their perfection. If you’re feeling festive, arrange them on a mantelpiece or a window ledge or a countertop, or hang them on the wall.

Now, your turn!

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83 Comments

  • Reply Natalie November 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    So much love for all of these! I’m right there with you on No. 4 especially (including the wax collecting – I love making new candles throughout the season).

    Also, curling up with loved ones on the couch with extra blankets, lit candles, and a favorite movie is one of my all-time beloved winter things (bonus points if there’s popcorn and a cozy cup of tea).

    • Reply Wendi November 6, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      I, too, make little molds of wax from old candles to melt in my Scentsy. I feel like a DIY goddess when they’re done!

  • Reply Guyot November 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Ouiiiii faire tout cela! Un bonheur d’automne en attendant Noël…

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 6, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      bisous, bisous, bisous. hug, hug, hug!

  • Reply Аnn November 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    – Every day movement in the street (and then skate),
    – bake pies on Friday evenings,
    – books,
    – films,
    – draw,
    – repair all kinds of small things,
    – something to learn,
    – stroking a cat,
    – drink tea with lemon + homemade sweets.
    But I’m not inclined to depression, I’m bored and are already thinking things over.

  • Reply Christie November 6, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I have been enjoying many long walks these days as the leaves change. A “habit shift” of sorts that I hope sticks as the days grow shorter and colder.

  • Reply kelly libby November 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    The world is sooo sooo sooo sad for me especially in the past year, and it just keeps feeling worse. In times that feel so awful it is exactly the time to bring in the self care!! I have started a wonderful self care habit — I go to the salon once a week to have my hair washed and dried and styled. Few things are better feeling than having your hair washed and scrubbed. I had previously thought this was excessive spending, wasteful and a waste of time. But, for $35 and a nice tip, it is THE BEST money spent all week. THE BEST!!

  • Reply Hannah November 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Mine are: Hot tea and New Yorker magazine before bed, fairy lights, a drawer full of wool socks that finally gets some use, hugs every morning, weekly nights with friends, and exercising outside.

  • Reply MA November 6, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Love this list. I recently had the privilege of living in Norway for 6 weeks and was struck by two things:
    – The number of candles! They were everywhere. I loved looking out our apartment window into nearby apartments and seeing all the flickering light. And this was in summer!
    – The all weather gear for kids. I’m talking one-piece rainsuits, and the habit of wearing these suits all the time and getting outside.
    I though such great habits! And so, I will be lighting my candles and wearing my weather-appropriate gear to call on my elected officials to demand sensible gun control laws and to join the protest outside their offices, even in the bleakest of weather.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Yes and yes. Have never visited Norway myself, but read lots about these traditions. We’re well stocked in candles and Faye’s got a one-piece rain suit. Calling on my elected officials right with you!

    • Reply Jessica November 6, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      My husband is from Denmark….I can attest to the all-weather gear and the candles, even if there is no reasonable kid-safe space to keep them in this house. (But come January, when we move, give me allllllllll the candles!)

      Demand stronger gun control laws (and paid maternity leave while I’m at it) while in the warmth of my fuzzy boots and faux-fur lined jacket?! Yes, please!

  • Reply Emily November 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Dedicate a table (or floorspace, if you have it) to a puzzle. I have been wanting to do this for years and now have a space and you best believe there’s 2000 pieces spread out on a mat. When the toddler is napping I will be puzzling with coffee or tea and Townes Van Zandt playing in the background. It rains all winter in Victoria, BC and while we aren’t in Norway or anywhere as cold as New York, the coziness of puzzles and music and warm beverages are a heartwarming way through.

    (Also poetry. I’m going to read poems all winter long.)

  • Reply Laura November 6, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for your list! I’m with you on all of them! Another favourite of mine is cooking lots of seasonal recipes! We love to make at least one big pot of soup or Dutch stews (our favourite is ‘andijvie stamppot’) during the weekend to enjoy after long workdays. And ever since I watched Fly Away Home as a child I spent most of October and November gazing up the sky on the lookout for geese and other migrating birds. Nothing makes me happier than the cheerful chatter of geese.
    Twinkle lights also help.

    • Reply Katie November 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Oh my gosh I LOVED that movie as a kid! Now I’m going to have to try and find it.

  • Reply Amy November 6, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I am officially going to stock up on candles. I never thought of it before, which baffles me.

    On a serious note, I truly experience SAD, which I also never realized until I moved around the country a bit. I grew up between Portland, OR and Dallas, TX and always preferred TX. I figured that had to do with the friendliness of Texans and the fact that every boy I dated had a pickup truck. But now that I’ve lived all over the country, I see how important sunshine is for me. It’s radically important. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s not even dramatic enough. I lived in PA recently for a year and then moved to AZ following that. I am now in NC. I can say, hand to my little heart, that sunshine is right up there with sleep for determining my mood. For anyone struggling with seasonal depression, what worked for me was physical activity (I took tennis lessons), time outside (even in snow), hot baths and vitamin D supplements (which also strangely cured my achy joints). Hope this helps even a tiny bit. It’s a lonely feeling to be depressed and not understand why or how to make it better.
    Amy

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 6, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks so much, Amy! Just wanted to say that I *hear* you. I really struggle with a lack of sunshine, too! Forever on my list, more. physical.activity. In solidarity!

  • Reply Amanda November 6, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    On collecting acorns … my husband and I bring each other acorns as “gifts” from our various walks, and this year we had a little pile on a tray that sits on our dining room table. Long story short, we twice found what we thought were maggots on said table right before sitting down to eat, and were horrified and confused. Maggots are definitely not something we expect or welcome anywhere in our apartment, let alone where we sit down to eat. We couldn’t figure it out, but my science teacher husband just sent me this link (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2007/sep/072107.htm) on “The Dark Side of Collecting Acorns” … you’ve been warned 🙂 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 6, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      haha, oh dear!

      • Reply zoe persina November 7, 2017 at 3:17 pm

        *sprints to living room to inspect acorn collection*

        live music (with toddlers)

        new friends!
        xx

  • Reply MissEm November 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    You guys are all brilliant. I’m really struggling with this year and the world and a pervading feeling of hopelessness in the face of the relentless bad news, and S.A.D. and literally no spending money for any treats or dates or nights out (ugh, or furniture or cozy blankets to make space beautiful to be in on dreary days – whine whine whine). It’s been a tough year all around, so my first priority will probably be returning to SSRIs, which is not as fun as pumpkin pie. BUT it might MAKE everything else more fun! Other than that…committing to dinner with friends more, movie nights with candles and popcorn, reading poems (and maybe memorizing one), getting the hell off instagram because no one needs to be tempted with comparison in a bleak year, and getting into that stack of books instead, early bedtimes with tea and one of those books. We also try to do a lantern walk on Martinmas (Nov 11) every year. This year it will probably just be our family. We remember the beautiful story of St. Martin, who kindled his inner light and gave half his cloak to a poor man, and we make our own lanterns (maybe little squash ones this year? ;)) and remember to guard the small light within in the face of darkness (both literal seasonal darkness and the dark parts of life) and to shine it boldly. Then we end with warm cider and cookies under the stars.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Your Martinmas tradition sounds lovely. We love going on lantern walks in that tradition, too. But most importantly, whether it’s SSRIs or pumpkin pie, whatever helps is what’s best. Love to you and yours.

    • Reply Jessica November 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Oh, I really love this Martinmas tradition! I think a lantern walk on 11/11 is certainly in order for this family 🙂

    • Reply sasha November 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      *guard the small light within in the face of darkness* I needed this today, thank you

    • Reply Amy November 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I am loving the lantern walk, too. And I love this idea of kindling one’s inner light. 🙂

  • Reply Elizabeth November 6, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Mmmm, I love this. Winter is hard for me. What’s been helping me already this year: new slippers lined with fleece, lots of hot tea, and reading good (and not that good, but rather easy to read) books! Thanks for sharing your list!

  • Reply Kari November 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Take up knitting. All knitters actually look forward to fall and winter because it’s perfect knitting weather and because we get to wear all the cozy handknits.

    • Reply Sahara November 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Yes to this! Those mittens that are linked look ridiculously easy too…

  • Reply laura November 6, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Read a new book to your child every night. Delight in the way in which they view the world and hope that they will be the ones who change it.

  • Reply Marlena Serviss November 6, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve been revisiting the soundtracks from some of my favorite musicals. There’s something about listening to The Sound of Music while at work that makes for a bit of a brighter day.

  • Reply Tamara November 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    My biggest winter (or anytime) tip would be an expansion of number 2: community in all it’s forms, as much as you need to feel connected and loved, even in the dark. We do a weekly potluck with neighbors, rotating who’s house it’s at. I also try and schedule lots of friend time. My other tip would be exercise outside, preferably in a forest, but a neighborhood walk works too when there isn’t time for hike in the wild. The more I’m outside year round, the more I can appreciate the particular beauty each season has to offer. Warm clothes + warm beverages + warm thoughts + warm people = warm heart!

    • Reply Tamara November 6, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      Oh, and I’m volunteering with a new non-profit dedicated to bringing self care resources to POC, immigrants, refugees, and activists because man on man, is it ever needed right now! Check them out here: http://www.pdxasc.org

  • Reply Jessica November 6, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I live in Vermont so this is constantly on my mind. As we enter the endless winter darkness that falls on us from November to April, I’m:

    – stringing up all the twinkle lights (and maybe listening to some holiday music)
    – gathering the candles (my 4 year old loves to light candles at dinner in the winter)
    – laundering all of the snuggly blankets, slippers, mittens, hats, etc.
    – hitting the thrift for some new winter gear (there’s no bad weather only bad clothing. we go outside every day no matter the temp)
    – stocking up on vitamin D supplements, hot cocoa, good tea, and baking supplies
    – compiling a list of books to read/movies to watch
    – queuing up the fireplace movie on Netflix
    – hunting for the perfect yarn for some new crochet projects
    – getting all of my seed catalogs/journal ready to start making plans for next summer’s garden
    – puzzles, lots of puzzles!

    And this year:

    – adding a pair of snowshoes for the whole family to our holiday lists
    – pinning recipes for our new monthly women’s Soup Group perfectly timed to start the first week of December
    – making plans for the first year of what I hope to be an annual Kaffeeklatch in March (this is the hardest month for us, when everyone else is starting to see glimmers of Spring, we’ve still another 6-8 weeks of winter ahead of us)

    • Reply laura November 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      great list. puzzles are key! and new-to-us board games like Code Names which I highly recommend.

  • Reply Misty November 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    This is such a great post. I tend to be happier in the fall and winter months, and it’s because I do so many of these things.

    • Reply Sophia November 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Same. I tend to be happier and less anxious in the fall and winter months. I don’t know why yet. Maybe it is all of these rituals that I love, too. Or maybe some other reason. All I know is I feel comforted by the increased darkness, I love the cold and the warmth of indoors. I feel more at ease. These feelings change dramatically every late spring.

  • Reply Maria November 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    – Candles!
    – Ethanol fireplace (instead of heater/radiator) – there’s something whimsical about watching the fire, and more control over the room’s temperature
    – Adopt a dog – but only if you know you can keep it! – getting a companion who demands twice-daily walks has seriously improved my lifestyle in general, not to mention the cuddles <3
    – If at all possible, turn your bed to face the window: walking up to direct light, even just on weekends, has magical powers against SADness – we've actually sacrificed a whole storage wall to make it happen, that's how much I believe in it
    – Open your windows, even if just for a little while: fresh air is also magical
    – Swap your regular lamp for one with chromotherapy options: we bought one this weekend and have been using the turquoise setting, which is quite relaxing and not anxiety inducing (like regular lamps can be)
    – Take up every opportunity to enjoy some sunshine – when it comes – eat lunch out on the street, go for a walk around the block on your lunch hour, plan weekends depending on the forecast (and be flexible about it). Bonus point if it involves attending any community/charitable events
    – Take a bath – with candles!

    • Reply Maria November 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      *waking up

    • Reply Jessica November 6, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      yes to baths! Especially when it’s bitterly cold and I feel like I’ll never warm up, I love to light candles, and add some eucalyptus Epsom salts and listen to a podcast.

  • Reply Brooke November 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Love this list- and all the comment additions! One thing we like to do as a couple in the winter is read a book together before bed. We started doing it on long camping trips and stick with it during the less busy colder months. We tend to stick with mysteries as they are more riveting to read aloud.

  • Reply Laura November 6, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Such a sad time of year. Even without the other things going on. My happy things are:
    – taking a small child to the park and crunching around in the leaves, helping them climb things, and swinging on the swings;
    – lighting beeswax candles;
    – putting the fireplace channel on the TV (surprisingly cheery);
    – chai tea and gingerbread men;
    – working hard to clean up the yard and having that wonderful feeling of exertion and the potential for new things to grow next year;
    – tucking garlic and crocuses into the garden; few things are more optimistic than planning for spring before a long winter.

  • Reply Johanna November 6, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Your writing in number 1 made me laugh out loud 🙂
    We live in Germany and Martinmas is traditionally celebrated with a lantern walk. We’re inviting all our friends to bring something to eat, their kiddos and their lanterns. I’m going to bake geese (a traditionals Martinmas symbol) out of sweet yeast dough – always baking 2 together, so they can be shared (again, symbolism…).
    Also: Knit tiny cowls for all the 2year-olds you can find – they knit up really quickly and they are adorable! Also, you might as well knit one for their stuffed animal rabbit, as well…
    Also: chocolate!

  • Reply Kyla November 6, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    On the weekends, getting up at my regular waking hour (6a or so) and sticking to a morning routine that feels good (tea, breakfast, yoga, meditation, writing), maybe even getting a few errands / chores done, and then a few hours later climbing back into bed with another cup of tea on the nightstand, a lit candle or incense nearby, and a good book I don’t want to put down. Feels so luxurious and lovely!

    • Reply Lisa November 7, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      This sounds absolutely heavenly. I may ask my husband to steal the kiddos for a few hours one weekend late morning and do just this. Thanks for the idea!

  • Reply Nina November 6, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    A light-box can really help on dark mornings, and vitamin D supplements too. I was waiting for a train to get to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, and a man on the other platform threw himself in front of a high-speed train. The doctor I was meeting is a neurologist specialising in circadian rhythm, and he said it’s at exactly this time of year that people can really struggle, with the darkness. So, get as much daylight (real and artificial) as you can. Plus all the other little things that can make it feel a bit better, of course – pomegranates and loving-kindness meditation are high on my list.

  • Reply Doe November 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    made chicken pot pies yesterday; one for a young mama, laboring at home…and one for us
    added fairy lights to the houseplant crocks
    candles, e’erwhere…

  • Reply Clare November 6, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    This almost feels too simple to add, but since having our baby just over a year ago (and therefore leaving the house in the evenings getting infinitely more complicated), we’ve started hosting a weekly film club. It’s on a Tuesday, which is perfect, since no-one really has plans for a Tuesday night, and no-one expects great things! We have an open invitation for whichever friends are around, and we make a big batch of something warming and uncomplicated, spend 15 minutes arguing amicably about what to watch, then plunk down with a bowl of food and hit play. It’s incredibly low effort and low expectation (crucial for someone like me who likes things to *really* overcomplicate things like having friends round for capital ‘d’ Dinner) – but super high on reward. Each week I get to hang with some of my friends, watch a film, and we all go home to our beds by 10:30. It’s been my favourite new weekly activity – and an absolute godsend when bordering on becoming a baby-induced recluse!

  • Reply Genevieve November 6, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Listening to more music–not even new music, though I’d love to keep up with more new music. Just all my old records (physical and not) that have gotten put by the wayside in the past year in favor of obsessive listening to audiobooks and news…which are good, too, but I’m remembering that listening to a song you love is transporting like nothing else, and these days (this past year) I truly need those moments of being taken away.

    Dance class, if I can drag myself there, will make a huge difference. I am trying to get past the hurdles that keep me from making it to class.

    Fiction. I loved this story (though it made me cry) and thought I would share here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/21/george-saunders-fox-8-short-story-man-booker-prize-lincoln-bardo?CMP=fb_a-culture_b-gdnculture.

  • Reply M. November 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Find those cinnamon-scented pine cones they sell around the holidays. Buy a bag. Plop them down in closets, the shelves in your kitchen that you use for nothing or too many things, put one or two on top of a bookshelf or under your bed. Be pleasantly surprised by the delightful scent that wafts toward you gently when you open that closet door or dig in the cabinet or walk into the room with the shelving.

  • Reply sasha November 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I live in the far north, already very dark, very early…….sigh.
    Petting my dogs, hiking and xc skiing with them and coming up with new games for them will help me. Baking bread and goodies and soup, reading (The Bright Hour is amazing), sewing, making little felt critters, and my heated mattress cover are cozy too.
    But the best, a January trip to Costa Rica with my husband, been saving forever. That dose of sunshine is seeing me through the whole long winter.

    I love seeing everyone’s lists, much to inspire, thank you!

  • Reply Pamela November 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I’m right with you on No. 9 and No. 14!
    I took on knitting last year and in this year it has been my lifesaver. I’m making cozy sweaters, mittens, hats, scarves for myself and my loved ones. I drive so much joy on knowing the journey of the materials before they get to my hands and seeing how they become staple pieces in our wardrobes; which has result in more decluttering 🙂
    I have also started going on long hikes and train rides around the province I live in. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) I love the city but sometimes you need to enjoy a hot cup of tea surrounded by trees.

  • Reply cc November 6, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    ACORN IDEAS! (Ooof to the above warning re unwanted visitors….. I’ve not had this happen but I only bring in the “caps.” Two suggestions: Martha Stewart had a feature in “Good Things” a few years ago with felted wool acorns and you can use any color wool. Might be a nice way to repurpose wool socks that can no longer be darned, etc. I think the original crafter/idea was from “Lana Homemade.” Another idea is to use those little chips and bits of wax to make tiny little candles from the acorn caps. Since these won’t sit flat due to their shape, they are instead meant to be floated and could be put into any small, dish, bowl, or a jar.

  • Reply Anna November 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    I just loved Number 7!! So funny! Laughing is a great way to boost our neurochemistry, as well as doing useful things with our hands, like fixing things and knitting. These things are well documented mood lifters! Really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments as well.

  • Reply Mary Kate November 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Oh, I love all this! I would add reading a good book, but that is a thing I do all year round in any season. So, reading a good book curled up under a blanket with a glass of red wine, with a candle nearby 🙂

  • Reply Ryan November 6, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Love these, especially number 14! We also tend to keep our apartment cool, so having a good stash of non caffeinated tea on hand is a must. I’ve also found it really helpful to get involved with a new organization that does work I’m passionate about. Staying busy means less time to obsess over anxious thoughts and depressing news alerts!

  • Reply Wendi November 6, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    — Learn how to make a decaf Americano so you can still enjoy your cup o’ Joe and also get some sleep at night (Another must to help ward off the yucky feelings.)
    — Discover a beautiful Coffee Shop playlist on Spotify and listen to it nonstop while working at your kitchen table
    — Read your tiny leather Bible because it is lovely both inside and out
    — Watch your daughter pretend she’s hosting friends for dinner in her play kitchen and marvel at her blissful ignorance and sweet, sweet imagination
    — Wash ALL the things and mop your floors with a mixture of ACV, Castille soap, and thieves oil. Breathe in the yummy fall scent.
    — Read ALL the books and remember that people are much more beautiful than it seems

  • Reply Kathleen November 6, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I second mending. It is small, it is meditative, it is solving a problem, however small.
    I play a game with myself when things get bleak – compliment someone by the time I get to my desk each morning.
    Get outside every. single. day. I walk home from work (30 minutes) whatever the weather, but lots of coworkers who live further away walk together at lunchtime (bonus for them is that it’s still light out then).
    I don’t live in the US so the political situation is different, but I make a point of making small monthly donations to a few organizations both local and worldwide. I don’t make a lot of money so emphasis on “small”, but I believe that we all have something to give (it might not be money!) and it does help me feel less helpless in the face of so much strife worldwide.
    A friend who lives nearby and I take turns hosting one another for dinner one night a week. Super casual – we usually end up cooking together – and always a highlight of the week.

  • Reply Shelbi November 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you Erin, I really needed this. xo

  • Reply Rebecca November 6, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I like how this has turned into “these are a few of my favorite things” – I’m on board!
    Also included are YOGA, reading in the bath, trivia night with friends, and popcorn while netflixing.

  • Reply Susan Crane November 6, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Just beautiful, Erin. We like to paint the inside of found acorn caps bright colors and gather them in a bowl.

  • Reply Nicole November 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Love all the comments so, so much. We have children with birthdays in November and December, and their enthusiasm for changing seasons/holidays is wonderful. Our favorite winter tradition is to spend time outside and then have a “picnic” in front of the fire–family, warmth and good cheese are wonderful things!

  • Reply Katie November 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Whenever I feel particularly down, I try to make someone else’s day brighter. A surprise cup of coffee, a sincere compliment, or simply trying to focus another person’s needs tends to put me in a better mood. I have a feeling that bringing either of those cookie recipes to share at work would do the trick 😉

    • Reply MissEm November 7, 2017 at 11:11 am

      I love this.

  • Reply Alix November 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    I actually adore the winter months and love the early darkness. I figure it’s Mother Nature’s way of telling me to make a cup of tea, grab a book, and hibernate for a few months. Who am I to disobey? That said, I did actually move my bed into one of my front parlors earlier this year. It was to take advantage of the ceiling fan, but I’m keeping the bed there because that room (unlike my bedroom) faces east, so now I’m woken up by the sunrise. Sooooo much better than hearing the alarm go off in a pitch-dark room!

    Some suggestions:
    – walk when it’s snowing (everything’s so pretty!)
    – put up your Xmas tree early & keep it up as long as you like, to enjoy the lights
    – tea, tea, and more tea
    – hearty doses of Jane Austen
    – hot breakfasts
    – stay in your pajamas as long as possible on the weekends. sip hot chocolate.
    – get your toenails painted red
    – read Sherlock Holmes on dark and stormy nights

  • Reply Lari November 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Exercise is always nice! It makes me feel better whenever I stick to a regular workout routine.

  • Reply Mackenzie @organicbutterflyblog November 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Love all these ideas! Baking cookies and stocking up on candles are definite must-do’s! 🙂 And I love reading everybody else’s comments; it has given me some additional things to try out!

  • Reply Ashley November 6, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    I am ALL for #14!

  • Reply Darcy Goedecke November 6, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    This made me smile the whole time and my heart so warm. It’s a great list. Love!!

  • Reply CA November 6, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Make good smelling lip balm (I use the zero waste home version with some essential oils) and body lotion (I love the trash is for tossers variety) – some extra self care for dry winter skin (or, in my case, where you’re working 14 hour night shifts as a medical student on labor and delivery and your skin really needs some help!).

  • Reply Megan Kay November 6, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    Folding warm laundry with my husband
    Trying new recipes with my CSA vegetables
    Taking my dog to the beach
    Being some of the few people at said beach
    Collecting the shells and sand dollars
    Not knowing what to do with them but take them home to arrange on a ledge
    A hot toddy or two

  • Reply Jill November 7, 2017 at 1:39 am

    A couple of weeks ago I had my first mild anxiety attack, and I realized that I really do have to do yoga most days to feel good. I have two young wee ones, so to fit this in my schedule I do yoga classes online once they’re both asleep. Flow yoga, sans clothing ( with the curtains closed ) does wonders for the morale!

  • Reply Mun November 7, 2017 at 1:51 am

    We’re heading towards summer here in Sydney but I’m still enjoying your wonderful suggestions!

  • Reply Sadie November 7, 2017 at 6:20 am

    This is lovely, thank you so much everybody :-). I am with you on the fresh air, books and tea especially.

  • Reply Schuyler November 7, 2017 at 6:24 am

    A great book (for me, right now, that’s Jennifer Egan’s ‘Manhattan Beach’), and an evening book-in-bath routine dedicated to it!

  • Reply christina November 7, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I love beeswax candles and have since my 2 children were in Waldorf school. We did the Martinmas walk with lanterns and so many wonderful things. Gathered acorns and made little faces on them. I always have pinecones around. We live in Northern California so we do get sun in the winter months but there are times it rains on end. I don’t think I could live in Oregon or Washington because of all the rain and darkish days. But adjusting is always key.
    Love your list…

  • Reply Lou (U.K) November 7, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Really enjoyed reading everyone’s lists!
    I’ve almost – but not quite – jumped off the caffeine train and am indulging in matcha lattes (a recent discovery) this season. Earthy, comforting and delicious.
    My stockpile of candles has reached record levels (after a recent trip Stateside).
    And I’ve just invested in some hand salve, upgraded my soap and picked up a cosy jumper in preparation for the colder months ahead!

  • Reply Phyusin November 7, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Erin,

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now. As a Phd Professor and researcher on social movements, a 30 something first generation scholar, an immigrant from a war torn country…etc, I find your voice is a rare one on social media these days. I appreciate all the attention you have brought to some of the crises and disasters that our global community is facing…and I just wanted to mention that I noticed you didn’t say anything about the fires that have devastated the lives of thousands in Sonoma County, CA. I am not requesting this out of my own selfishness as someone who was impacted by the fires (our family had only relocated to the region 9 months from Portland, OR, before the fires destroyed the community). But, I am asking if you have the space and time to dedicate a post- because the devastation is as horrendous as what happened in Katrina, and any support from outside of California is truly appreciated. As a community we experienced over 10 days of trauma as we watched our friends, families and community burned to the ground. This impact on our vulnerable populations has been devastating. And I’d love it if you could help bring some attention, some creative philanthropy or support. Children like my daughter at age 2 are having to talk about the loss of their homes, the loss of their friends’ homes…the experience of evacuation etc. Thanks for your time on this.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE November 7, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      Hi there: Yes, indeed, devastating on so many levels and I’m so sorry for your suffering. Additionally sorry if it seems as though I’ve overlooked it. Northern California has been very much on my mind and I’ve included mention of relief efforts for the area in two still-to-be-published posts that I’m working on for the holiday season. More to come, for sure.

  • Reply Kirsten November 7, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Volunteer for whatever causes make your heart feel whole and in whatever way works for your life. There are so, so many people out there doing good work, and I still believe that there is more good in the world than bad.

    One other thing I’m working on this fall is supporting the arts in person, because it’s good to be reminded that humans are capable of astounding beauty.

  • Reply Zsuzsa November 8, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Love your list! 🙂
    I find the best way to combat winter blues is to find common activities with friends. My favorite one is knitting – you can cheerily knit away and chat at the same time. Find a local yarn store, or a group on meetup or Facebook.
    The other seasonal activity is visiting a Christmas market with friends and family. They usually open after Thanksgiving and stay open through Christmas.

  • Reply Maria | Go Messy or Go Hungry November 8, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Ha, I definitely read “Place a winter bulb order” and assumed you meant LIGHT bulbs… until I clicked the link!
    But seriously though, that would be my #1 tip: replace the light bulbs in your living spaces with white ones that are closer to sunlight. Fun fact: light bulbs come in a spectrum of more yellow light to more “blue” light (our eyes perceive it as “white”), and the light that’s closer to blue is closer to real sunlight. It’s the same thought behind those SAD lamps, but instead of staring into a blue box, you can just have some sunlight around your home! All the apartments I’ve lived in have all had super yellow lights, so a few winters ago, we replaced them all for white lights, and it’s made all the difference on those dark mornings and evenings.
    Look for bulbs that are in the 3000k-4000k range (it’ll say on the package). Higher number is whiter, lower number is yellower.

  • Reply Jen November 10, 2017 at 8:38 am

    I love the winter too-it’s so cozy and I appreciate not feeling guilty for not being outside with my kids all of the time as I do the rest of the year. Here are some things I do to celebrate this season-lots of candles (normally at dinner but do it at breakfast too when it’s dark and cold-my kids love it), I just started reading Pride and Prejudice, second go around and I can’t wait to watch the miniseries when I’m done. Baking-ginger bread cookies, chicken pot pies, apple cake, you name it. Going on “moon walks” with the kids after dinner when the moon is full, or close to it-with it getting dark so early we can go right after dinner and still make bedtime on time. We do this once or twice a month (alone the east river on the UES) and it’s a family favorite. Also, something that became a tradition when my youngest was born 3 years ago-my husband takes the kids out on a Saturday afternoon and I take a long shower-dry and straighten my hair (which never happens anymore), curl up in a robe with some coffee, the Christmas tree on and a great Christmas movie. Then, a nap. It’s my favorite annual tradition!

  • Reply Sarah November 12, 2017 at 7:36 am

    Lovely list! Other things we’re doing: making cotton pot holders with our classic Harrisville Designs metal loom, and using our homemade beeswax polish to nourish all the wooden toys and utensils in the house. I’m also making up a big batch of chai every week: http://beautythatmoves.typepad.com/beauty_that_moves/2013/01/homemade-chai.html

  • Reply Alyssa November 13, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Erin I am reading this late because I am behind on my blog reading, in addition to everything else.
    I’m going through a terrible depression (nothing new, unfortunately, but this one is hitting particularly hard) and this just made me giggle and tear up at the same time.
    Excited to try out squash lanterns this weekend 🙂

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