The darkest, coldest time of the year is here, bringing with it drab weather, grey mornings, and a dreary sense that spring is still far off. Tightening your purse strings after Christmas, returning to normality, and not having those festive celebrations to look forward to – it all takes its toll on our moods. But is winter all gloom and doom? With a little effort, even January and February can be made that tiny bit more joyful – and even more so when your everyday pleasures don't come at the expense of the environment or animals. Here are some of our favourite ethical ways to make winter a bit brighter.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert.
We know, a bit counterintuitive. It's dark outside, all you want to do is envelop yourself in comforting black or other winter-appropriate shades. Colour is for summer, right? Wrong: psychologists have stated that wearing bright shades can have an uplifting effect on our moods. As colours provoke different emotional experiences, what hues we wear does matter. Add a hint of dopamine with a strikingly hued bag from Alkeme Atelier, or go for a colourful dress from Baukjen. For more beautiful brigt colours, check out our Colour Splash edit.
Go for a walk.
Oh, this is a hard one. The situation outside is hardly tempting. But hiding away at home isn't likely to elevate your mood, while a refreshing walk is a sure-fire way to do just that. Being outside – even when temperatures plummet – can help improve both your physical health and your mental well-being. Apparently, our stress levels are reduced when we are in nature, so make sure to incorporate the great outdoors into your day.
Wrap up warm in cosy knits.
This is a true winter feel-good classic. These months are the best possible time to really get into warming clothing that feels like wearing a hug. Team your knit with your favourite jeans for the ultimate in cold-weather cosiness, go for a sleek knit dress, or throw a chunky cardigan on over a miniskirt. Stay away from animal-derived knit fibres like wool, angora, cashmere and mohair, and opt instead for cosy knits in organic cotton, hemp, Tencel, or other plant-based materials. Check out Mila.Vert, KOMODO and Minuit Sur Terre for some stylish winter warmers.
Light a scented candle.
Possibly the best and quickest way to bring a cosy ambiance to your home is to add some scent. Candles can really elevate an atmosphere, and winter is the best time to experiment with rich scents such as cinnamon, chocolate, spices, vanilla, and fuller, heavier florals. Avoid beeswax – which exploits bees – and stay wary of paraffin waxes that could potentially be harmful to the environment. Instead, choose soya wax, coconut wax or other plant-based waxes, and explore sustainable brands such as Ubiety or Sun.day of London, which use natural waxes and oils for their delightful scents.
Cook hearty, nourishing meals.
These are not the days for light, crisp salads – well, they can be, if you are so inclined. But winter tends to be the time for more warming, sturdy meals. We're talking curries, stews, soups, and maybe the odd apple pie. You don't have to be a master chef – many of the most delicious, healthy and comforting meals are surprisingly easy to make. Dig out your best pots and pans and get into experimenting with root veggies, seasonal fruit, and heat-bringing spices. The BBC has lots of inspiring recipes to help you get started.
Invest in a good winter coat.
All those walks outside won't be much of a joy if you're wearing something flimsy and lightweight that doesn't shield from the elements – but wrapping up in warm yet shapeless, drab outerwear won't do your well-being much good either. Discover this season's sleek puffers, well-cut coats or glamorous faux furs for that elusive combination of comfort and chic. Find your perfect coat at Culthread or Issy London.
Indulge in some comfortable bedding.
When do you ever spend more time in bed than winter? Let's be honest: when we're not going outside in our colourful knits or cooking up a storm, that's where we're most likely to be. So why not make your bed as inviting as it could possibly be? Steer clear of goose down, which is likely to have come from live-plucked birds, and choose vegan fillers instead. For bed linen, go with organic cotton or eucalyptus fabric – try Ethical Bedding's soft, luxurious range for a night of amazing sleep.
Enjoy life's little luxuries.
It's the month of restrictions – from post-Christmas budgeting to endeavours such as Dry January, denying ourselves seems to be the theme of this already dark, gloomy time. Add in some brightness by doing the things you love: reading great books, watching that TV show that's been on your list for months, seeing your friend for a decadent (vegan) brunch, or why not start planning a trip away? Winter can be as enjoyable as you make it, and you'll be surprised at how much small things help along the way. And before we know it, spring will be here.
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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