January is the heart of winter. While December 21st is the winter solstice and the days technically lengthen daily after that date, it can seem like that’s not really happening in the dog days of January.
When things are at their darkest and bleakest, it’s important to keep the bright in sight. Here are 6 ways to make the most of January and find the light even on the darkest of nights.
- Go snowshoeing
In the summer, you go hiking; in the winter, it’s easy to say you can’t do that anymore because it’s too cold out. But you can – you just need special footgear.
In fact, snowshoeing is one of the most scenic, peaceful, and zen activities out there. It’s arguably even more beautiful than hiking during the fall leaves, as everything looks pretty and quiet after a snowfall.
Just like in the summer when you look up trails to go hiking, do a simple search for places to go snowshoeing in your area. You’ll be surprised at the number of options, and delighted at how low-cost it is. It can be as little as $8/hour to rent snowshoes and get out onto trails that lead to frozen lakes, stunning winter vistas, and more.
- Have a movie marathon
Are you into Harry Potter? Star Wars? Whatever your favorite series, there’s probably one that you absolutely love, and when it gets dark at 5pm or earlier, it’s the perfect time to take a Sunday and do a complete marathon.
So invite a few friends over, get the popcorn ready, and just completely binge on your favorite series. If you’ve never seen them all in order, you might even catch things you hadn’t before. Pro tip: between flicks, look up some trivia about the series and quiz your viewers.
- Take a class
January means lots of downtime. All that darkness and cold means that snuggling up on the couch or in bed is preferable to, well, let’s be real – anything else. Of course Netflix is an easy option, but what if you used that time more to your intellectual advantage?
There’s a multitude of places to learn for free online, whether alone or with your significant other, roommate, or friend. So why not take a course on how to negotiate when buying a house, or beginning French, or the nature of evil and economic crises (these are all real courses that are available)? Here are 20 places to learn for free online.
- Make stew
There’s a reason stews were popular in the days of yore. They’re hearty, nourishing, and comforting on cold winter nights.
If you don’t yet have a crockpot, get one and then get cooking. The best part of stews is the endless combinations of creative elements (hint: see if your local Whole Foods has bison meat or venison), plus the crusty bread you can get to go with it.
- Do an end-of-year review
Who says you have to do this on January 1st exactly? No one. There’s still time, and there’s still lots to ponder and vision out.
Take an evening and a journal and some time to reflect on 2016, as well as what you want out of 2017. Write freely for a while if you like, then make a few lists:
- Things you’re proud of having accomplished in 2016
- Things you’re ready to let go of from last year
- Things you want to experience in 2017
Bonus: when you’re done with the second list, write the 5 things you most want to let go of on small pieces of paper. Then burn them (safely). You’ll be surprised at how much a small ritual like that can make the letting go feel real and complete.
- Read books
While, again, the draw of Netflix can be almost irresistible, all those long dark hours can be filled with books just as easily as television. And here’s the thing: science shows that reading stimulates your brain far more than watching TV.
One easy way to choose books is to select someone you admire and google their reading lists. Most business and technology gurus will have a list out there somewhere of their recommended books. Another good bet is GoodReads; when you sign up for an account there, you can get recommendations for all kinds of good reads (see what we did there?)
"While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best." Tom Allen