Tips for simple living – What to do in Winter

Tips for simple living – What to do in Winter

So much has been forgotten about living simply, or slowly, with the assumption that new ways, more technology and spending money on a ‘mod con’ is the way to a better, happier life. In fact, just this year I saw an article titled ‘January Blues? 25 things to buy to make yourself feel better’.

I felt pretty shocked. I had been thinking a lot about buying, and spending, less anyway as part of my New Year – No Spend challenge, but have we really been deceived that buying things will make us happier whatever the source of our unhappiness?

Winter can be a time of great hardship, and that was true for centuries. Cold weather, shorter days and longer nights all make living more difficult. Although in many ways modern life has brought a comfort and security never enjoyed by so many throughout history, still there are those in increasing numbers who can’t afford to hear their homes, source adequate clothing for winter conditions or eat proper food to keep them full, healthy and warm.

So today, I wanted to share a few things you can do around the house to get back in touch with simpler times and benefit from a traditional approach to household tasks or free time without spending lots of money or buying more gadgets.

1. If you love to garden and grow your own fruit, vegetables and flowers, sorting seeds and planning for the growing season is a truly wonderful way to spend a slow afternoon or evening. You may need to spend some money on new seed but if you plan in advance you could share seed purchases with a friend or neighbour (seed packets are often very generous unless you have a large plot). If you’ve saved seed from previous years you could swap this with others on your allotment, it can be a great way to save money and perhaps try some new varieties!

2. You can dry your washing outside when it’s cold! Dampness/humidity is the key to whether washing will dry outside or not. Look at a hard surface (a stone path, patio or wall). If it looks damp, don’t put your washing out. If it’s mostly or completely dry, hang your washing out as soon as it gets light outside and by the time the sun is starting to set, it will be dryer than it went out, saving you valuable time and space drying inside, and perhaps avoiding the need to run a tumble dryer, therefore also saving you some money. Plus laundry dried outdoor just smells amazing!

2. Warm yourself, not your house. Of course it’s important to maintain minimum temperatures indoors, for your health and the health of your home! Mould and damp are not good! But if you’re trying to reduce energy usage but finding you’re getting a little cold, especially if like me you work at a desk and aren’t moving too much, try using it as an opportunity to get some daily exercise and warm up for a while! A short workout, or some housework, can do wonders for making you feel a bit warmer and getting your circulation going.

3. Choose your food wisely! It’s unlikely that 100 years ago northern Europeans were eating salad in December, certainly not fridge-cold lettuces, cucumbers and tomatoes. For a start, those things are not in season here right now so if you’re looking to save some money and make sustainable choices, seasonal food is a great place to start. Also, if you’re like me, you crave warming, comforting foods during the colder months. Soups, stews and root vegetables all hit the spot. Try swapping your salad for a bowl of soup, or your cold breakfast cereal for a bowl of porridge topped with apple compote. Warm yourself from the inside out and feel that contented glow of simple sustenance.

4. It’s a great time of year to organise your home! If you need something to occupy you on those long dark evenings or need a distraction from spending money on stuff you don’t need, go through an overstuffed drawer or cupboard and discard anything you don’t need. You might find a craft project in there to work on, a book you never got around to reading, or something you were going to replace because you thought it was lost forever!

5. Enjoy the relative peace of winter. In these dark, cold days we long for spring and summer, but when the longer days arrive I find myself drawn into an unstoppable cycle of plans and outings to ‘make the most of the good weather’. So many projects go by the wayside during this time only to be picked up hurriedly again in September. The house always seems untidier then too. Though we spend longer outside so in theory we make less mess indoors, finding the time to stay in and get things done seems less acceptable. For this I enjoy the slower pace and routine of winter, a time to read more, plan ahead, get on top of things for the year to come.

6. Take an inventory! January is a great time to take stock of Christmas decorations, cards and wrapping. Even if you had to put it away on a hurry, it should still be fresh in your mind. What cards will you need or do you have plenty? We’re any decorations broken or damaged? If you have new ornaments do you need to get rid of any old ones? You don’t need to buy new things now just keep the list to hand. When the festive season draws nearer you can purchase intently and mindfully, hopefully buying things you love and saving money by not being tempted to buy more than you want or need!

7. Pick up a craft project! Maybe there is a sewing project that you’ve been neglecting, or you’ve always wanted to start knitting? When there’s not much to do outside in the garden and the darkness draws in early, sitting under a blanket with a hot drink, some relaxing music on and working away at a gentle creative pursuit is what the winter months were made for!

8. Read a favourite book. Sometimes when I’m feeling a little tired or lethargic in winter, I don’t have the energy to dive into a new read, I want familiarity. Rereading old books that you love is a great way to immerse yourself in another world without challenging yourself too much.

I’d love to hear the ways in which you spend your winter days and evenings, and how you turn away from modern consumerism in favour of a simple and more sustainable approach.