how to: survive winter

You'll feel a compulsion to pour oats into everything. You'll microwave so many potatoes!

by Sophie Peacock
22 November 2017, 1:00pm

Here you are, waiting in the uncomfortable hinterland between the end of summer and the start of Christmas. Your mum and your dad each separately texted you reminders that the clocks were going back even though they both know you don't own a clock, and you immediately forgot summer ever existed. If you don't give a flip about the festivities, then winter is just a long dark slide into a world of limited sunlight, low motivation, high Netflix intake, and dry skin.

But we can beat it, we can learn to love the four (six) misery months, or at the very least have an okay, highly moisturised time. Here's how.

Oats with everything
Winter is a drain on your resources, and your stomach is the furnace you gotta feed to keep going. If ever there was a time to take everything in your fridge and cook it all in one pot and melt cheese on top of it, it's now. You're going to have a love affair with a condiment you previously thought was only 'fine'. You'll feel a compulsion to pour oats into everything. You'll microwave so many potatoes! Now you can eat baked beans on toast every day or have porridge for dinner and it's socially acceptable. You can put a slice of pizza between two other slices of pizza and make it your go-to 'work sandwich'. This is the season of eating comforting food. Let your cravings loose and become a culinary innovator, fighting the good fight to keep a chill out of your bones.

On weekdays we wear black
Winter fashion, for me, is based around two polar opposites: rotating through the same few all-black outfits for a fortnight because black is very forgiving as long as I wipe off the crisp dust regularly; and dressing up shinier than a Christmas tree because it's party time and I've spent three weeks resting in preparation for a night out. And really that's all there is to it. Be comfy, warm and covered in knitwear by day, then be a velvet panther covered in tinsel at night. Just not every night, obv. (Sadly, no one has fixed the ordeal of having to politely take all your clothes off on sweltering public transport only to hurriedly put them all back on again because it's freezing outside, so just deal with that one as best you can, I guess.)

All the time.

Give in to nights in
Summer is the best social lubricant, second only to alcohol and award winning box-sets. Winter provides only short bursts of enthusiasm. Most days will be too dull to do much more in the evenings than having a bath, jilling off and setting a reminder on your phone that says 'drink wine'. AND THAT'S OKAY. If the only thing you can manage right now is good old fashioned hibernating, then get some plans in the diary (scheduled at comfortable intervals, leaving enough time in between to regenerate). Book a summer holiday so you can bear existing through the winter, get tickets for a gig, hell just schedule a bitching and hugging session with your nearests and dearests every Tuesday night until the day the clocks go forward and release us from the 4pm nighttime. Having things to look forward to will make you feel more productive and provide some light at the end of the daily tunnels.

Flake until you make [an effort to attend something]
All that being said: sometimes the threat of a co-worker's baby shower can really knock the wind out of your fanf. It's okay to turn down or flake out on social occasions if the wintral gloom is too much, just be honest and upfront about it when you make your apologies. Honesty means you avoid being forced to make up barely credible commitments, like having to go to your landlord's birthday party.

Remember to cry
I find it tricky to cry. The comfortable fog of antidepressants has a tight hold on my tear ducts, meaning that whenever I actually feel like crying I end up with a kind of blue-balls of the eyes. But cry we must, because sometimes the trains are delayed and your thermal socks chafe and the man who just bumped into you definitely smelled like vomit, and it's all a bit much. Just as you need to laugh like a hog on helium sometimes, you also need to release all your sadness in a wet clumpy stream of mascara. Whether it's a certain film, a particularly depressing email, or a distant memory of an exam you forgot to revise for, treat yourself to the nourishing stimuli that allows you some emotional release.

Whether you suffer from SAD or not, the dark and the cold can really shit on your birthday cake. Go buy yourself a big box of sunshine and use it to gently cook your brain back to life. Get some heavy duty lip balm too because you don't want dry lips that crack when you start smiling again.

Go outside sometimes (and not just to commute)
I don't want to be the person who tells you to take up jogging or start cycling to work, because I only run for buses and free drinks. But make the most of outside when it's postcardy and pretty and regenerate some enthusiasm for the world. You can't really sunbathe or even take your numb fingers out of your pockets for more than a second, but you can see some quality dogs in their favourite environment with a hot toddy in your flask and your pyjamas on under your duffle coat.

staying sane