In northern climes, darkness comes early. And when clouds obscure the sun, the gloominess of this period of the year can be depressing. Some of us succumb to SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder and become seriously depressed.
How can we fight off gloom? Some of us can head south to a sunshine coast or board a cruise or fly to Figi. What if we can’t?
When I was a boy, I remember my mother varying our usual diet of white bread by giving us raison bread. The scattering of raisons made each bite a delight. In a similar way we can scatter special treats through our winter days to take our mind off the cold weather.
Keep busy. This is not the time of year to mope around the house lamenting the season. Of course, if you have a steady job or young children, much of your time will be occupied. But then there’s the weekend. Plan something fun for the whole family. And if retired, one has many other choices.
Plan a project or take a course. Winter is an ideal time to embrace that project we’ve put off. The more fun it is, the more it will distract us from weak sunshine. Take a course on photography, computers, memoir writing, or painting. Take action to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Before you know it, you’ll be wishing you had more time.
Volunteer. Every community needs volunteers; to visit seniors, deliver meals on wheels, drive people to appointments, taking shut-ins to the grocery store, the list is endless. Churches never have enough volunteers for their various ministries.
Plan fun things to do. Go to a movie, watch a hockey game, or take in a play. Play Scrabble. Set up a difficult crossword puzzle on a card table. Plan to have dinner or lunch in a special restaurant.
Plan a special tea or meal with some friends, family, or even new acquaintances. It may spice up your life.
Read books. People who love books find that winter passes quickly. Join Goodreads (goodreads.com) where you can find what others are saying about books, keep a record of your own reading, and write short reviews.
Keep up your exercise. If you can, get out of the house regularly. Visit a mall, not to shop, but to get some exercise and have a coffee with a friend or spouse. Many places have community centres with a walking track and exercise machines. And take your vitamins, especially the sunshine ones.
Take a short-term missions trip. The needs in places like Haiti or Uganda and many other countries are unending. As a side benefit, these countries usually are warm and sunny while northern climes freeze.
Most important, adjust your attitude. Albert Camus wrote, “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” How is that possible? Some will say all we need is positive thinking. But Christians rely on more than will-power. They trust in God to transform their attitudes—to everything, even winter. In Christian hearts, spring and summer can continually bloom when we allow the Holy Spirit full sway. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, …self-control”(Gal. 5:22,23).
The Apostle Paul, who lived a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit could write, while shackled in prison, “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…content in any and every situation”(Phil. 4:4,11,12).
Beyond doing whatever we can practically to add spice to our winter lives, we need to be much in prayer that the Holy Spirit would so work in us that we radiate joy and contentment in a winter environment.