I’m someone who doesn’t love cold weather. For well over half the year, I find myself wondering what the heck I’m doing living in a climate where I need to throw on a parka to step outside.
The good news is, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to make things a little cozier when the nights get longer and the days are chilly. The way I look at it’s that if you can’t beat winter, you can embrace it, and enjoy some of the simple (and free) things you can do to feel warm and cozy.
Since everyone will be spending a lot of time at home over the next few months, now is the time to snuggle up by a roaring fire, sink into your couch with a soft blanket wrapped around you and soak in a few cozy winter rituals. Here are some tips to make your days and night extra cozy and keep you as relaxed as possible to survive these cold, long winter months.
Throw on Your Comfiest Clothes
When starting your winter hibernation, the first thing you need to get into your most comfortable clothes. Whether it’s a favorite pair of thick sweatpants, fuzzy socks, or a brand new plush fleece robe, these are essential.
Wear only what you want to wear, with no concern for how you look; if you do look stylish, then more power to you. You know what you love, so pull it out and put it on to settle in.
Keep Your Feet Warm
Some people are good with cold weather; I am not one of those people. As soon as the temperature starts to drop, I start to freeze. The only thing that stops me from feeling too cold is keeping my feet warm; the easiest way to do this being a pair of soft plush slippers.
Slippers will provide maximum comfort, especially in a cold house where your housemates refused to turn up the heat. Pop your slippers on as soon as you’re in the door – they will go a long way to keeping you and your feet warm and cozy. If you don’t have slippers, wool socks are a nice alternative (or even better, both!).
Another trick to keep your feet warm is to add extra rugs anywhere in your house with bare floors. You can even add some extra rugs or mats to your bathroom, so you don’t have to step on cold tiles while slipperless.
Comfort Food Time
When the weather calls for it, there’s no better time to indulge in a bit of comfort food. Science says comfort food can be good for your emotional state. It’s normal to crave richer, more carb-heavy food when the weather gets colder, so break out the nicest breads, baked goods, or whatever warms you from the inside out.
Everyone has their favorite comfort food. It could be soup, chicken pot pie, or a hearty casserole. No matter what you’re craving, it’s time to dig in and enjoy.
A Mug of Something Warm
Don’t forget a mug of something hot to drink, to warm your body and soul. There are plenty of intensely soothing drinks to choose from on the coldest days. My favorite is tea, but coffee, warm apple cider, or a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows or whipped cream topping also do the trick.
If you need an extra layer of relaxation, fix yourself a hot toddy or mulled wine – warm alcoholic drinks have amazing warming abilities that can really hit the spot on long boring winter nights.
If you would rather keep it healthy, there are plenty of herbal teas that come with all kinds of extra benefits.
Get That Fire Going
If your home is lucky enough to be blessed with a fireplace, now is the time to use it. Fire it up, sit back and enjoy.
Not only do people (and any animals who are wandering around your house) love the warmth fire provides, there is also scientific research saying that sitting by a fire can decrease your blood pressure, and the hypnotic effect of fire is very relaxing for most people.
If you don’t have a fireplace, lighting a boatload of candles may also give you a warm ambient feeling.
The Right Lighting for Hunkering Down
Maybe you’re someone who loves a bright LED light. These definitely have their place in the home, but when you want to relax, you’re gonna need to dim the lights.
An easy way to instantly create a cozy atmosphere is to use soft lighting. If you have dimmers or a three-way bulb, use them to reduce your lighting to its softest level.
To add even more gentle soft lighting, you can add fairy lights (any teens in your household will love these). You can even light a candle to add a pleasant glow and set a calm and relaxing mood (you might be noticing a pattern here: I love candles!).
Find Your Coziest Blanket
As soon as the temperature starts to drop, I find all of my throw blankets (or any extra blankets you have), and make sure they are placed around the house where I lounge. It’s always nice to have one handy wherever I am, so I don’t have to walk to the other side of the house to find one.
You can even make yourself a little nest for reading or watching TV, but make sure there are enough throws or blankets for everyone to swaddle themselves up, because inevitably, someone will try to steal your blanket if they don’t have one (especially when you get up to grab a drink or snack) – put them everywhere, so this can’t occur. You ideally want every room in your house to look like a pillow factory exploded.
Up the Relaxation with Soothing Music
Once you’re all cozy on the sofa in front of the fire and aren’t totally sure what to do next, think about putting on your favorite music for added relaxation. Music can be an instant mood changer, and most people already do this to get into a certain headspace.
If you have had a rough day, or aren’t feeling all that great, music can have a beneficial therapeutic effect. One study found that with music “if you’re feeling sad or stressed, it only takes 13 minutes to pull you out of it. And if you’re already in an okay mood, it takes just NINE minutes to make you happier.”
Of course, you have to choose the right music. If you’re looking to relax, you need a piece of music with no lyrics, a slow tempo, and a simple melody. Classical and jazz work for some people. If you aren’t sure what type of music to seek out, there are lots of pre-made playlists on streaming services created to evoke a certain feeling.
Unwind with a Good Book
It’s easy to sink into the couch and flip on Netflix, but if you want to really relax, spend the night losing yourself in a good book. You may be skilled in the art of Tsundoku (buying books and never reading them), or you just think reading is for nerds (it’s not). Winter is the time to actually read the books you have been stockpiling, or discover something new (like a love of reading!)
Spending cozy time under a blanket with a good book is a great way to pass time in the colder months, while offering a nice (depending on the book) escape to your everyday life.
Nostalgic TV Shows
If reading is too much for your brain to handle when you’re hunkering down for the winter, you can always turn to trusty TV and movies. Like everyone else, I’ve been watching more TV than ever in this pandemic year, since there isn’t a whole lot else to do.
If you’re looking to relax and feel cozy, rather than diving into the latest prestige TV, may I suggest checking out old favorites like Golden Girls, Cheers, Magnum P.I. (the original), Friends, or even Seinfeld? These old familiar shows are soothing and comforting, since everything always works out. The characters are very appealing and usually quite charming, and the shows have a more gentle feeling that current shows (do I sound like an old lady?). They can also be a nice reminder of normal life, where things seemed a little less complicated.
Breathe in a Relaxing Scent
Much like a toasty fire, an easy way to create a relaxing atmosphere is with an amazing scent or fragrance. Scents can instantly take you back to a comforting memory; baked cookies, mulled wine, or something tasty slow cooking on the stove spring to mind. Getting that nostalgic feeling could be as easy as lighting a scented candle that takes you to a different time or place. Bath and Bodyworks candles are a favorite for a lot of people.
If you’re looking for scents to change your mood, you may want to try using an essential oil diffuser. Some studies have shown that diffusing essential oils like lavender, lemon, orange, and jasmine may reduce stress and have a calming effect on your mood.
Cozy up Your Bedding
If you start to notice your toes getting cold when you sleep, it’s time to get your bed ready for winter. Ditch your lightweight cotton for soft, warm, cozy brushed flannel or jersey that will hold the warmth in.
You will also want to layer up with warm duvets, quilts, and blankets or leave extra blankets folded at the end of your bed to use as needed. If you hate the chill of getting into bed with cold sheets, add an electric blanket to your routine and warm up your sheets before you get into your bed. It takes a bit of planning but it’s heavenly to slip into a heated bed.
If you have to share your bed and run into issues with your partner over the correct layers for a proper winter bed, you will want to look into the Scandinavian bed making method that involves two duvets on one bed. This genius method basically means you get your own mini-bed where you can control your temperature and don’t have to worry about your partner stealing your sheets or blankets in the middle of the night, leaving you freezing and fuming. This is the perfect solution to sleeping exactly how you like to sleep.
Getting good sleep and rest is crucial to making it through the harsh winter months. You may find that you get sleepier because of less sunlight and more time spent inside, making it a great time to embrace one of the best things in the world, sleeping
If you’re someone who feels guilty if they sleep in too long, or much longer than other members of the household, don’t worry about it and just surrender to your sleepy feeling. It is good for you to sleep and it’ll make you feel good – and best of all it’s free.