Thanksgiving is over, we’ve come out of the turkey coma and the kids are far enough into school that they are comfortable in their new routines. Winter is coming, and for some of us it’s already arrived (twice!!). In our house, flip flops have given way to runners, soon to be exchanged for Blundstones, our winter boot of choice. 

As Canadians, we know what to do to be physically ready for winter. But apart from that, some of us need help remembering that it’s possible to enjoy the long season of dark and cold that is a Canadian winter. To that end, look no further than the Scandinavians, who always seem to have a way of celebrating winter, and boast some of the happiest people in the world, even during the long winter nights, to which we can relate.

Specifically, I’m talking about the Danish, who have a term, Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of it. Hygge roughly translates into creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. It’s about being relaxed and calm, and surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good. Who doesn’t want that? 

But alongside winter comes the full-on craziness of the holiday season. Before that happens, now is a good time to start a practice of Hygge, taking stock of family and life and setting goals for the winter season. It’s a time to assess to do lists and make a plan, made easier when you’re not as tempted by fine weather and patios with friends (and wine). 

Whether you are working right now, thinking about making a change or just getting ready to go back to work, fall is a great season to make a plan for all the parts of your life and get things in motion, whatever your goal may be. So here are some tips for enjoying the fall season, and preparing yourself to handle the craziness of the holidays and winter like the Canadian you are: 

  1. Take stock. Upgrade your skills. Look at online course offerings, not even necessarily career-related, but those things you’ve been meaning to do that maybe don’t take a ton of time but are something you’ve had your eye on. 
  2. Take your time. Literally and metaphorically, slow down. Have a cup of tea, light a candle and do some deep thinking on where you are and where you want to be. This to me is the best time of year to make those 1, 5 or 10-year plans you are always talking about.
  3. Tidy up. Forget spring cleaning. Embrace the fall purge. As you switch from summer clothing and pull out the winter gear, take stock of what you have, what you need and donate what you don’t to those who may need some more help this winter. 
  4. Get outside. Someone once said to me, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices,” and those are the words I live by. Get outside in some form or another every single day, and know that you will be happier for it. 

The rakes and garden hoses have been put away and the snow shovels pulled out, the winter tires are on and the mittens are found — hopefully. Rather than seeing these things as chores, see them as getting ready for the next step in the never ending cycle of seasons. Because whether we like it or not, winter is on it’s way, and wouldn’t you rather not just survive it, but embrace it?