By Carolyn Shields
Winter can challenge you in just about every way you can think of. It takes a toll on our bodies, turning healthy tans to powdery white skin, drying out our faces, and lethargy runs rampant. Mentally, we sometimes default to endurance mode, pushing through each day knowing that spring is only a few weeks away. (Weeks, not months). And since our spiritual health is closely linked with these realities, our prayer life can take a bit of a hit as well.
But it doesn’t always take monumental effort to get by. It can feel like that, but some of the following little practices have helped me a ton, giving me a little perk or spark when I needed it the most.
Wear suntan lotion. The smell alone triggers all the summer feels.
Drink something with coconut in it. I never liked coconut until I realized it was magic. Add coconut water to your smoothies.
Eat foods that are associated with summertime. Who says you have to save watermelon, ice cream, and corn on the cob for summer?
Take advantage of any and all days when the sun is out. Don’t just let it lift your mood, but move your chair so that you take in all that sweet Vitamin D.
Pray a novena. Sometimes our prayer lives need a little electric charge, and though praying Morning Prayer and attending Daily Mass and saying the rosary are freaking beautiful, sometimes a nine day novena gives you a little surge charge.
Read. A lot. If you’re forced to stay inside because your neighborhood is a little sketchy after the sun sets at 4pm, don’t just spend your hours indoors on your phone. Crack open that book or find some other hobby to widdle the hours away.
Mark your calendar for things to look forward to. This was a really important point that my dad left us kids with when he went to Iraq. To help get through the hard times, he wanted concrete dates that we had to look forward to. Whether it’s a concert, drinks with a friend, or a visit to home, it helps a lot to face tomorrow when we know there’s something good to come.
Another piece of advice from my dad is creating goals. He encouraged us to make physical, educational, spiritual, and a fun goal, but make it as simple or as complex as you need to. Save one thousand dollars this winter. Read five books. Finish a project that you started years ago. My dad always said the key here is to make goals realistic.
I would say exercise, but ha, come on, let’s get real.
Turn on music. I forget how much Taylor Swift or my Spanish channels help boost my mood.
But plants. Keeping something alive and thriving is one of the nicest simplest pleasures in life. (And if you’re like me, you’re gonna have to buy like five plants throughout winter)
Treat yourself. I’m a huge believer that a few dollars can turn things around, including really crappy days. And what’s even better is when you treat yourself to something and then wait expectantly for it for days. As in, buy something online and spend all your waking hours wondering if your brown package has arrived yet. Cough cough, Visio Divina. Seriously though, I think this helps your joy and gratitude last longer than an impulse buy.
So that’s what’s been helping me so far! What about you? What helps you through this season?