I have to be honest and say I’m not excited about the end of the fall season and the beginning of winter. The cold and I just don’t vibe well together.
Perhaps it is memories of cold, wet days in England and feeling lost. Perhaps it’s the knowledge of shorter days and longer nights. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what causes me to feel this way but that I recognize that I have choices here. That I notice what’s happening in my body and what interpretations I am making about the cold.
I know for many people the change in season feels exciting and they look forward to sweater season. But the process of going from warm sunshiny days to cold, grayer days is not a seamless one for me.
At the first whisper of cooler weather my body begins to squeeze a little. Then there’s the frustration I feel for the added attention needed to decide what clothes to wear, what layers to add on or take off. I start to draw up and into myself, away from the imagined impact of the cold.
My brain just doesn’t know quite how to organize this need for warmth and comfort and the dislike of wearing layers of clothes and the weight that comes with them.
Layers make me feel restricted and heavy. My body doesn’t like to feel restricted or weighed down. That’s what causes the confusion and frustration because I also want to feel warm and cozy; two distinct needs vying for a favorable outcome.
As I have tracked my journey with colder weather and clothes, I have dug into the why of these feelings of overwhelm, confusion and extreme dislike of the cold weather.
Cold weather is a trigger for me. It makes me feel unsafe, and out of control. And it goes back to … drumroll please… childhood.
My first winter in the UK, I wasn’t dressed in the right winter gear. I remember having a wool coat but my feet and legs froze each and every day. I didn’t know that I could say something about my discomfort or that there were warmer options. I just wore my cotton socks and lace-ups.
That was the case for most of my childhood, including teen years. I didn’t know that feet could be warm during winter. Even after I left home I didn’t invest in warm clothes or footwear. It was almost as if a part of me was frozen in childhood when it came to winter weather.
Then many years later, I bought my first pair of Uggs. And the warmth felt by my feet gave me new information about my relationship to the cold. With the right gear, or tools or reframe I could begin to experience this time of year without dread.
It’s a slow process for me just the same. Sometimes, I carry a hot water bottle under my sweater to keep me cozy or take hand warmers with me on my walks. I even sprinkle cayenne pepper into my boots for extra warmth. It works by circulating more blood in the feet.
Right now, I am wearing a warm, soft pullover and jeans (single layer), and I have the heating pad on behind my back. It feels delicious.
We all have areas in our lives that require a little more listening and discernment of our needs from within. These needs may or may not make sense to others. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we listen and that we unfreeze the discomfort, and return to feeling at ease and secure within our bodies.
I wish you the best for this season and a deeper connection with what is good for you.