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Tricks for Avoiding the Winter Blues

by Megan Minnick, Purchasing Director

The dark days of winter are upon us! It can be quite a shock to the system when we set our clocks back in early November and all of a sudden it’s getting dark at 4:00pm. This sudden darkness, plus the seasonally cold temperatures can be hard to take—both physically and mentally. I surveyed the Willy Street Co-op staff for any tips and tricks they may have for avoiding the winter blues. Here are the top 10 things that I heard back from them. 

Aromatherapy

Whether it’s scented candles, room sprays, essential oils, or incense, the right scent can really make a difference on a gloomy day. Melissa from Willy North recommends “...anything that smells like a bonfire or a forest.” Tonya from West especially likes the musky scent of Encens Dauroville Frankincense-scented incense. 

Jess from our Purchasing Team has a lovely ritual that might be just the thing on a cold winter evening:  “I love to mix my own combination of essential oils. You can use the carrier oil of your choice, grapeseed, argan, coconut...then add your essential oils. I like these for lifting your spirits: geranium, rose, and frankincense.

The ritual: All-over loofah before shower/bath, this will remove dead skin and make your skin super soft and clear, try the natural loofah sponge, but don’t wet it… Next apply oil over dry skin, then shower and enjoy.”

Lighting

Whether it’s salt lamps or candles, indirect warm lighting can be just the thing to turn a dreary day into a cozy one. Our staff especially like candles from Wisconsin Candle Company, as well as any of the salt lamps we carry. Caitlyn from Willy East recommends a salt lamp in the bathroom to give off a “warm glow spa ambiance” during a shower or bath.

Citrus

What would winter be without citrus? I’m not sure I want to find out. Citrus season is starting up this month and will continue all through the winter—right on time to alleviate the winter blues. Citrus fruits do double duty—they brighten your day with their tart flavors and vibrant colors, and they give you an extra kick of Vitamin C to boost your immune system and ward off those nasty winter colds. 

Exercise

Katie from Willy West said it best: “I get outside every single winter day and night. I don’t always feel like it, but strapping on the headlight and heading to the woods and just walking or snowshoeing saves me. I come back inside feeling like a new person. I think folks would be surprised at how they wouldn’t have to rely on other vices as much. Fresh, cold air is magic.”

CBD

Though CBD is still in its infancy in terms of clinical testing, there is mounting evidence (both clinical and anecdotal) that it can be helpful in elevating mood. It’s available in so many forms (capsules, tinctures, chocolates, beverages, cookies, and more), it can be hard to know where to start. Angie, our Wellness Category Manager, recommends starting with a tincture at a low dose and increasing slowly in order to figure out what’s right for you. She particularly recommends Plus CBD Cafe Mocha flavored drops. 

Bath Time

Bath bombs, bath salts, bubbles, and more! Who doesn’t crave a warm soak on a cold day? 

Leslie from Willy North likes  “A candlelit soak in a bath with Aura Cacia’s Aromatherapy Mineral Bath. I especially love the Meditating Cedarwood.”

Creative Distractions

Ethan from our Production Kitchen recommends anything done with other people, such as puzzles or multi-person cooking. Samantha from Willy East concurs; she reports that “working on puzzles and finding new recipes to cook are activities that help keep my brain busy during our long dark winters.”

Writing is another creative practice that many our our staff recommend—journaling, creative writing, and writing down affirmations are all great ways to take your mind off the gloomy days ahead.

Hot Drinks

Pretty much any hot drink can do the trick to warm your body and spirit on a cold, dark day. Our staff recommend golden milk (milk steeped with fresh turmeric root), green tea, hot toddies, masala chai, hot cider, coffee, red wine, porters, stouts…. well, maybe those last few aren’t typically enjoyed hot, but they certainly can warm you up!

Flora from Willy East recommends the festive flavors of the Celestial Seasonings holiday teas. Michaiah from Willy East prefers “CBD in coffee or some other caffeinated drink to zap the day into a balanced duo of relaxed alertness and motivation.”

Vitamin D3

Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D3 is a popular supplement that many people take during the dark months of winter. In the brighter summer months, our bodies synthesize natural sunlight to create vitamin D3, but this time of year, sunlight can be hard to come by. Vitamin D3 deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system, fatigue, and depression—all things that most of us would like to avoid this winter! Angie from Wellness recommends Rainbow Light Sour Lemon Sunny Gummies as a delicious and easy-to-take vitamin D3 supplement.

Fire (indoors or out)

If you happen to have an indoor fireplace, use that. Otherwise, Kirsten from our Central Office recommends an outdoor fire when the temps are warm enough: “When it’s unseasonably warm and sunny, like 38 or above, I’ll do a daytime fire in the yard. It gets me outside when the sun is shining so I can get some natural vitamin D on the face. Having a fire is fun and feels good, and the combination with the cold air is refreshing.”

Don’t forget, our stores carry local firewood all winter long!