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How to deal with the darker nights
17 tips for getting through winter
I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but my heart certainly sinks when the clocks go back and the prospect of four dark months until spring stretch ahead. As you hardly need me to tell you we’re heading for a period where we’re lucky to have 8 hours of daylight a day with only the twinkly lights of Christmas to keep us going (though even 10 weeks of that can get wearing.)
Luckily I was in the best place to mark putting the clocks back - in Trondheim in Norway where they have plenty of experience of dark days and nights. It was a beautiful crisp sunny weekend so I took full advantage, walked through the city, crunching through the frosty leaves and stopping for a hot chocolate in a cosy candlelit café. (I definitely need to up my candle game*)
Fortunately SAD is a condition that’s now taken seriously and there’s plenty of advice online including this excellent post from a wonderfully positive and energetic PR I follow called Jennifer Middleton @zestmid which she gave me permission to reproduce. (I’ve added a few food and drink-related suggestions and tips of my own below.)
Here are mine:
Go retro with your cooking. Make a stew or, better still, a pie. Or order one from St John via Dishpatch
If you’re WFH and lunching al desko make it a soup rather than a sandwich
Treat yourself at least once a week to a comforting old fashioned English pudding - crumble being the obvious candidate. Queen of puddings, lemon surprise pudding, bread and butter pudding - how good do they sound?
Switch to porridge for breakfast rather than yoghurt and berries
Embark on a cooking project - maybe a dish you can’t easily find in a restaurant. Like cassoulet which I used to make faithfully every February. Or ramen if you don’t live in a city that has a ramen joint. (Tim Anderson has a new book out Ramen Forever which would make a brilliant starting point.)
Book a pub Sunday lunch with friends you haven’t seen for a while. It’s cheerier to go out during the day than in the evening.
Or host the occasional Sunday tea. Make scones, bake a cake or if you don’t want to do all the work suggest everyone brings something they’ve baked. (A good strategy when you have young kids)
Have a nightcap. Not every night obviously but maybe late night Saturday or on a night you haven’t had wine for dinner. Switch from gin to whisky, rum or even brandy
Up your cocktail game and make them more seasonal too. Think negronis rather than an aperol spritz. An Old Fashioned instead of a margarita. An espresso martini …
Mulled wine - or cider - is not just for Christmas. It’s good right through the dark days of November and beyond. Or if you don’t drink, try a chai.
And just pulling out this suggestion fromof Popped from the comments which I think is PURE GENIUS:
“We do Winter Wednesdays in our house. We bake/make something, stick a seasonal movie on, candles. The works. As the weeks go on these things become more festive. But we start earlier each year so that we can savour the apple pies and the When Harry Met Sally’s of the autumnal world.”
What have I missed out? How do you get through the winter - or maybe it’s your favourite time of year?
Re candles I’m particularly keen on St Eval who I spotted - not quite in time to order one - are offering a tealight advent calendar. They say it will be back in stock soon.
When was the last time you bought yourself an advent calendar? Now that is a cheering thought.
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