Ask A Wench – Winter Blues Anyone?

woman in gown running through snowPat here: In today’s episode of Ask A Wench, Beth Reimer asks: Any ideas for fighting the winter blues? (Beth, you’ve won a free book! I’ll be in touch) It’s the middle of winter in the upper hemisphere, when the days seem darkest and coldest, and the wenches thought this would be a good time to throw in their suggestions!

Anne here. I don’t often get the winter blues — where I live the weather is very changeable and so though we might have days and days of cold and rain and woman face down in bedgrey skies, we’ll soon get a change and the sun will come shining through. But a friend of mine who grew up in Malaysia finds winter very hard and battles the winter blues every year, even though she’s lived here for twenty years.

I think the key to battling the blues is not to give in to it — do things to counteract it. There’s something about trying to take control of your mood and being proactive that makes you feel better. I know someone who puts on bouncy music and dances like a madwoman in her lounge room for 20 minutes or so every morning. It always cheers her up — plus it’s good exercise, which also helps with the blues. Also just walking briskly can help.

Another suggestion is to get access to a therapy lamp which initiates sunlight. There’s a good article on it here, as well as other suggestions to battle SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder — ie the winter blues).

fire and foodPersonally I love a good fire, and a nice thing to do in winter is invite a friend or two over, and have drinks and nibbles in front of the fire, and then maybe watch a fun movie together. Laughter is contagious.

But there are some days when the only thing you feel like doing is curling up with a good book. It doesn’t have to be a comedy — though that also helps — but any book that will sweep you away to another world and ends happily  will make you feel better. I tend to dive into favourite comfort-reads. And it doesn’t hurt to add in a favourite drink (hot chokkie anyone?) or just nibble on some yummy chocolate.

Christina:  I have to admit that I’ve never suffered from the winter blues either – I guess that makes me very lucky! I think it might have to do with growing up in Scandinavia, where you get used to living in virtual darkness for six months of the year. It never seemed to be a problem there, and the snow and ice brighten things up nicely as well. I know it’s a big problem for many people though, and it can seem as though the winter months drag on for eternity. My solution would be to close the curtains so you can’t see what’s going on outside, light a whole bunch of pretty candles, and curl up with a good book and some chocolate. Losing yourself in a different world usually works for me whenever I feel down. My absolute favourite reread is Cotillion by Georgette Heyer – you can’t beat it for sheer comedy. It doesn’t matter how many times I read it, it still always makes me laugh. Watching a movie or binge-watching a favourite TV series can work too – for me that would be films like Stargate, Gosford Park and Thor, or the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice adaptation starring Colin Firth. These never fail to keep me enthralled!

Nicola: Winter where I live in England can be bright, cold and beautiful or – like Nicola with two dogs in snowtoday – dark, wet and gloomy, and sometimes this does affect my mood, making me want to burrow under the duvet and hibernate until the spring. I have a number of strategies for making sure I don’t do that, since there are dogs to be walked and book deadlines to be met. I use an app called Ambience as my alarm clock so I wake up to the sound of birdsong rather than a bell ringing or the radio talking to me. I try to get outside for a walk with Rainbow or Wren at least once a day because even if it is horrible weather the natural light does seem to help lift my mood. A cup of tea or hot chocolate in front of the fire with the lamps on is comforting, and reading or watching something that makes me laugh is a real lift. Even better is seeing friends who make me laugh! I think it’s important, though, not to fret too much if I do feel like resting and retreating sometimes. We all need a bit of time to restore ourselves and the quietness of winter can lend itself to that, providing time when we can take stock of our lives and simply be.

Andrea: I guess I’m lucky in that I don’t feel that I get the “winter blues.” I don’t brown leavesmind the cold—I bundle up and enjoy being outside. I make a point of taking a long walk every day (I call it my plotting walk) and actually do use the time to think about scenes and what might not be working, or to figure out where the next twist should lead.  But mostly, I try to be in the moment, appreciating the sights and sounds of Nature around me—the monochromatic hues of winter on Long Island Sound, the bird life in the tidal marshes, the unexpected little beauties in fallen leaves, the magical colors adirondack chairs in snowof twilight. I think it helps clear the stresses, and keeps me on an even keel, no matter the season. And of course reading is always an antidote to feeling ‘blue-deviled.” Whenever I feel down, curling up with a good book—the genre doesn’t matter, the story just has to grab me and transport me into its world—always lifts my spirits.


Susan: I’m another one who doesn’t feel the blues in the winter. I look forward to the winter months, being born and snow paintingbred Upstate New York, way up there where winters in my childhood were long and snow-filled, fun and beautiful; we built snow forts and snow people, went skating and skiing, and were just used to an extended winter. If I have any form of the winter blues, it comes from not having -enough- winter where I live now in the MidAtlantic; I am known to boo Punxsatawney Phil when he predicts early spring. I love a snowy vista and prefer cold climates, and I’m happiest in the quieter pace of the winter with its highlights of the holidays. I love sweaters and cozy socks and comfy quilts and curling up under flannel sheets on a cold night. If I were to offer advice to someone feeling low in winter, I’d recommend those comforts. I’m far more likely to have summer blues—I have no tolerance for heat and humidity, my Irish skin burns easily, and you’ll never find me on a beach. Summer is when I might mope a bit, wanting the heat to end—that air conditioning better be cranking! I’m just made for winter. Give me a snowy day, a stack of books to read, a pot of tea, a story to write, and I’m as happy as can be.

Mary Jo here: I find it interesting but not surprising that the Wenches who seem ocean and palm treesto have the least problems with ‘winter blues’ are Northerners. This is particularly true of Christina, who grew up in Sweden, one of the Lands of the Midnight Sun, but also true for Susan and me (Upstate New York) and Andrea (New England.)  I imagine there’s some human natural selection going on with people who hated the cold and snow moving south, while the people who didn’t mind that kind of weather settled down and built their lives and did the kind of reading and wintering that several of the Wenches have already mentioned.

burros in doorwayBut that doesn’t mean that winter sunshine isn’t a fine thing!  Hence the popularity of Caribbean resorts and cruises.  Sun, sea, and sand!  Rum drinks with fruit on sticks!  Or if you prefer, fruit drinks with fruit on sticks.  Even better, the Wi-Fi might not be very good, so a person can really unplug and relax!

Pat here: Unlike some of the other wenches (Even though I am originally from New York and my ancestry is Irish), I get the true blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder. I operate on sunshine. Without it, I’m a dismal, useless creature without the energy to dance or sing or make a cup of chocolate. I might manage tea, but not an icy fruit drink, shiver. <G> But I’ve lived with this all my life and know terry pratchett book coverwhat I need to do. If I can’t walk on the beach in the sunshine, I wrap up in blankets, turn on the lamp Anne recommends above, and play soft music as I work. In the evenings, I read anything light-hearted I can get my hands on. Here in Southern California—where we moved to avoid too much of this SAD nonsense—I don’t have to resort to desperate measures often. But this has been a rainy winter, so I’m working my way through Terry Pratchett. There is something all right with the world when barbarians can conquer China and luggage can have a family. How can you not love a man who says wicked things like: “If cats looked like frogs we’d realize what nasty, cruel little bastards they are. Style. That’s what people remember.” — Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

And joy of joys, Jennifer Crusie  is writing again, so I’m snapping up her new books as fast as they come out. Laughter is the best medicine for the blues!

Do you get the winter blahs? What is your cure of choice?

14 thoughts on “Ask A Wench – Winter Blues Anyone?”

  1. How interesting that this post should appear on the day we were promised a major snowstorm, but got only rain and a dusting of white! I am so disappointed – my husband thinks I’m nuts! Although I grew up in the South of the US, my favorite months in New England are November and February. There is something about the whiteness of the light, even on cloudy days, and the deep indigo of the ocean that speak to me in a way summer never does. And a good snowstorm, while difficult for many, I know, seems to make the whole world clean, even if only for a few days. I am like Susan and would much prefer to spend the summer months in an air-conditioned room with an ocean view than on the beach! Heat and humidity make me grouchy and I long for those first crisp days of fall! My cure for summer heat blues? Reading Christmas romances!

    • LOL, I love the idea of Christmas romance at the beach!
      I love watching snow fall and the pristine whiteness IF the sun comes out, which it never did in the climates we lived in. But then it comes down to shoveling and driving on ice… nah. I want the beach.

  2. What I get is not the blues, but cabin fever. I want to be outside more, but sometimes it’s too icy or cold or windy to stay out for long. I have low blood pressure, and I’m very sensitive to cold, my extremities freeze in no time! And I’m not a fan of winter sports. Now that I’m retired, my favorite cure is a mid-winter vacation, preferably to someplace warm We’re shortly leaving on a trip to Turkey, and while it won’t be really warm there, it’ll be better than the New Jersey.

  3. I have S. A. D. I live in Texas and will shortly be moving to Arizona. If I don’t get enough sun there, I guess the next time you hear from me will be from Brazil? Argentina? Paraguay? Other than Antarctica not sure there is any place more southern.

  4. I live in Alaska, and frankly I love the winter. Do I get tired of the constant snow shoveling? Yes, but I also love to ski and walk in the snow. My dog loves it too. If I can’t get outside (which helps me combat any glumness – is that a word?), I practice hygge. I do lots of fiber crafts, make sure my wood stove is roaring and enjoy a cup of tea or mushroom coffee.

    Right now we went from – 30 to +40 in the span of a couple of weeks, and the days are getting longer. It’s just beautiful to go out walking.

  5. Like several of you, I grew up in the North(New York) and have no problem with the cold weather or snow(ice is another matter, too dangerous). It is a cozy time of year full of hot
    chocolate, tea. A d delicious soups! I love curling up with a good book, wrapped in a quilt with a cup of something hot to sip or a good, fun movie. It is a quiet , hushed time and when the world is blanketed in snow, very magical, almost like a fairyland. I am no fan of heat and humidity…makes me want to go to sleep and saps me of any energy or being able to think. Give me a cozy winter day nestled in my wing chair with a quilt and a good book anytime! I also love snuggling in bed under the flannel sheets and a comforter.
    I also do needlepoint and listen to audiobooks while I stitch. It is one if the perfect activities for a cozy winter’s day.

  6. I feel fortunate not to suffer from SAD, but I do enjoy the return of the sun after a spate of grey or rainy (or recently icy) days.
    My husband would love a fireplace (which is not an option), but we have plenty of candles, oil lamps, and battery operated twinkle lights and artificial candles to chase away the gloom. (Several are in use as I type this!) Good books, chocolate, and hot chocolate are also wonderful for elevating my mood.

  7. I don’t suffer from the winter blues which is just as well because I live in the Republic of Ireland and the weather is anything but predictable. We have had nothing but rain for the last two months. Our really cold winters seem to have disappeared. Where I live, near to the coast, we have a lot of fog which can get depressing but we have fingers crossed for a good Summer this year.


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