To fill the season with life and discovery, try these activities
For many of us, the winter brings with it a respite from the rush of summer. Like the natural world around us, we slow down a bit, retreat indoors, and take some time to recuperate. Slow, cosy, winter days-in were the things we dreamed of at the height of summer heat waves, when our social calendars were packed, and we rushed from one thing to the next.
That said, with less on our plates, there comes a time when winter boredom can set in, and this isn’t always great news for our mental health and wellbeing. A study published in the journal Psychophysiology set out to look at the link between boredom and mental health problems like anxiety and depression, and discover the most effective way to prevent boredom’s negative impact on our wellbeing. The finding? To proactively pursue activities, rather than waiting till boredom has already hit.
So, to help you on your way, we’ve gathered together eight sensational seasonal activities to try this winter, to help you beat boredom.
1. Cook with seasonal ingredients
There are many reasons to cook with seasonal ingredients. For one thing, it’s more sustainable. But foods that are in season also tend to be far more wholesome and nutritious, and eating with the seasons might also prompt you to try things you wouldn’t usually eat. The ingredients that you will get your hands on are likely to prompt hearty, rich dishes – the perfect thing to warm you up this winter. Vibrant red cabbage, heirloom purple carrots (and the good ol’ orange favourites, too), buttery leeks, and honey-roasted parsnips – these warming foods make moving with the seasons feel natural.
2. Go stargazing
Taking time to sit back and be in awe of the sky above can be a truly humbling experience, and wrapping up warm, packing a hot flask, and heading out into the winter night makes for an even more magical experience. There are plenty of astronomical events on the horizon, many of which you’ll be able to see without the need for any special equipment. Head to gostargazing.co.uk for a full calendar of what’s coming up.
3. Go for a winter ramble
Walking is an enjoyable activity all year round, but there’s something about breathing in the crisp air, hearing the sound of leaves crunching under your feet, and returning home with pinched and flushed cheeks, ready to wrap your fingers around a hot mug, that makes winter walks all the more special. Stomp around your regular route and take in the changing scenery, or head to walkingbritain.co.uk to discover new ones.
4. Try a living room dance workout
When the temperature drops, a good way to get your blood pumping and heat rising again is through exercise. But why stick with a plain old workout when you can bop along to your favourite songs? Not only are dance workouts great cardio, but they’re also bound to put a smile on your face. Invite a couple of friends to try them with you, and you’re bound to be laughing throughout. There’s a huge selection of dance workouts available for free on YouTube, and there’s something for everyone’s music taste. From club anthems to 80s, punk rock, and even Christmas music (is it ever too soon to get in the spirit?), find a routine that ticks all the boxes, and get ready to sweat it out.
5. Look out for the wildlife
The great outdoors can be a challenging place to live in the winter, but this is where you can step in. An incredibly easy way to help wildlife is to leave things undisturbed. Push back the picture-perfect garden and borders for later on in the year, resist tidying, and let leaves build up where they fall, providing shelter for all kinds of creatures. You can also leave out fresh water, and make your own bird feeders using strung-up apples and seeds. Head to rspb.org.uk to learn more about how to take care of our feathered friends this winter.
6. Read a book, purely for escapism
When it comes to picking up a book, you might feel some pressure to keep up with the prize-winners and the chart-toppers. But reading is about so much more than that, and right at the top of the list is reading for escapism. What’s to stop you from curling up with a childhood favourite? Perhaps the book that first got you into reading? Or one that has stuck in your mind over the years? Or maybe it’s time to venture into a whole new genre. Cosy crime, fantasy, speculative fiction – there are so many worlds out there just waiting to be discovered.
7. Do your own ‘Desert Island Discs’
Are you a fan of the legendary radio format, but coming to terms with the slim chances of taking your place on the airwaves? Gather together some friends and family, create your playlist, and off you go. Give a short introduction to each song, explaining the memories you associate with it and what it means to you, before pressing play, and work through the story of your life as told with music. Take it in turns, start a conversation, and be whisked away by the evocative power of song.
8. Fill a photo album
These days, most of us have a phone gallery overflowing with photos we’ve taken across the years. Creating a physical photo album is quite a ritualistic thing to do, and many of us will relate to the nostalgic feeling of pulling one out to flick through and reminisce over good memories. So, go through your phone, select the highlights, and print them off. Then, pour yourself a hot drink (and maybe cut a slice of something sweet, while you’re at it) and settle into a journey down memory lane, creating an album to be treasured.