The holiday season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, yet Mother Nature seems to have missed the memo. Rather than get up January 2nd and return to work like the rest of us, the b*&^% decided to hit snooze and go back to sleep - thus abandoning her responsibility to keep temperatures at a reasonable level and her duty to prevent the wind from ascending upon civilization at near mach speeds. While I do so love Boston, every year around this time I ask myself why on earth I decided to move to a place that promises a "high of 30" in the same breath as "warm enough to sunbathe." Not only does cold weather make it sufficiently unpleasant to engage in any kind of outdoor activity, it can really take its toll on one's personal well being. A lack of the sun's vitamin D leaves me with low energy and a sallow complexion while bitter temperatures and the threat of the flu make my eyes water and my nose run simultaneously (it's a really cute look). The dry air does nothing for my hair and even less for my skin, and the sound of the wind outside my apartment almost, dare I say it? almost convinces me to sacrifice my acute fashion sense in favor of living in sweatpants. But NO! I must have strength. I must fight through the Below Zero Blues. I won't let that lazy Mother Nature beat me. And now neither will you.
After thorough analysis of the facts and heaps of R&D followed by years of experimentation, I have formulated the perfect cure-all ritual for winter woes. So if you find yourself in a distressed state similar to the one described above, fear no more. Follow the ten simple steps outlined in this blog and I can guarantee your energy and sunny disposition will be restored - just in time to emerge refreshed and revitalized for Spring!
Disclaimer: While I do whole-heartedly recommend setting aside a Saturday or Sunday to perform this ritual, I understand not everyone desires to give up weekend plans in favor of R&R. Thus you may also pick and choose activities to do ad-hoc throughout the week.
1. Take a hot shower. (or bath, if you're a bath person).
Showering has always been a bit of a therapeutic exercise for me, and when it is 11 degrees outside with a "feels like" temperature of -7 there is nothing quite as soothing as stepping into a hot shower and letting the steam do its job. Really pamper yourself here - this is your time to relax and take stock of all the winter ailments that may have befallen you. Suffering from dry hair that's lost its shine? Invest in a conditioning treatment like this restorative mask from BabyLiss and wear it while you shave your legs. Feel as though your skin is looking a bit lackluster? Try a gentle exfoliator such as the Daily Boost Body Scrub by This Works - it smells like a spa and will leave your skin feeling silky smooth. Worried that the bitter temperatures and your lack of exercise is causing breakouts? Recharge with a face mask - my absolute favorite is the Liquid Gold Smoothing and Perfecting Mask by Alpha-H, which uses lavender and honey to soothe skin and fast-acting glycolic acid to clarify and brighten (this whole skincare brand is actually amazing, I may do a full review on it at a later date).
2. Don't skimp on towels.
The last thing you will want to do when getting out of this most indulgent shower is reach for a pilly, thin towel. So don't! Having luxuriously soft and fluffy towels is essential - it is the difference between feeling like you are staying at a 5-star hotel and bringing back memories of life in freshman dorms (remember shower sandals? Enough said). And the best part is you don't have to shop at Frette to own good quality bath linens! This weekend I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I purchased an adorable set of Kate Spade towels at $17 each, and better still online you can buy Diane von Furstenberg's linens for the clearance price of $5!! Seriously don't wait - your skin (and wallet) will thank you.
3. Moisturize. A lot.
I cannot emphasize this enough. It hardly matters what you use, Jergens is a great cost-effective choice while the more expensive brand Kiehl's offers a host of options for dry skin, but the point is you must moisturize early and often. Don't neglect your face either - as soon as I am out of the shower I reach for my trusted CeraVe - which has SPF 30 and comes highly recommended by my dermatologist (who may be 15 or 35, I cannot tell because her skin is that good).
4. Put those fashionista instincts to good use and get cozy in cold weather wear without sacrificing your style.
As cold as it may be, winter is no excuse for looking like you went shopping at your gym's lost and found. Take advantage of the frigid temps and sport this season's most happening trends! This year my wardrobe staples include thick knitted sweaters and a frightening collection of vests and scarves - almost exclusively of the fur variety. You can find some of my faves here, here, here, and here. Pair any of these with comfy leggings (opt for pleather if you're going out) and knee-high boots and bundling up has never looked better. Plus these oversized sweaters easily conceal holiday weight gain, so yes you can have that cookie.
5. Give yourself a mani/pedi.
Can't shake the thought that June is still 6 months away? Throw yourself a spa session and revive that carefree summer attitude with a bit of "me" time. To save $$$ but still reap the benefits of an indulgent afternoon, give yourself an at-home manicure and pedicure. Who cares if your feet are in socks for the next two months? You see them and that's what counts. Instead of staying the course with traditional winter shades like burgundy and taupe, opt for an obnoxiously bright color to instantly energize those phalanges. Better yet, be the trend-setter you're meant to be and try one of Essie's newly launched Sleek Sticks - I adore "so haute!"
6. Fake it til you make it.
Spring may not be around the corner just yet, but you can fool your reflection (and everyone else) into thinking you've come back from a winter's respite in Turks & Caicos by sunning up with a little fake tanner. St. Tropez is my go-to for a flawless at-home tan, but if you aren't ready to commit to a full body product than try a cream bronzer to add a bit of summer's glow to those cheekbones. Chanel makes a fabulous product called Soleil Tan de Chanel which I love, and Laura Mercier also has an excellent Bonne Mine palette which includes two blushers and two highlighters to boot. While a powder bronzer will work fine, I swear by cream in the winter because it keeps my skin hydrated.
7. Make Tea for Two.
Winter can feel like a very isolating time. The sun goes does long before you leave the office, and social events are harder to come by as no one is willing to go out during the week when they could be on the couch watching the Bachelor. So instead of going out, invite a friend over to cuddle and pass judgment while watching the Bachelor with you. My favorite beverage for this kind of self-indulgent activity is herbal tea, which I usually doctor with one Trulia (more natural than Splenda), a little honey, and a lemon wedge. Served piping hot this treat will instantly soothe and calm.
8. Light a candle before you read this month's Vogue (or this blog!)
Candles are the number one most overlooked product when it comes to kicking winter woes aside. This weekend while buying stationary at Papyrus I stumbled upon the most gorgeous smelling candle, a coconut-milk mango scent that took me all the way back to my home and tucked me tightly in bed with just one whiff. It was seriously intoxicating so I bought it on the spot and have been burning it after work to relax every day since. While I do not recommend lighting candles immediately before bedtime (better to avoid burning the house down), I highly encourage incorporating candles into your daily (or weekly) relaxation regimen.
9. DRINK WATER.
You have no idea how much this helps. Try for 60-70 ounces every day and believe me you will feel a difference almost instantly. Water not only keeps your skin and body hydrated, it also helps to regulate your metabolism so those 2:00 pm hunger pains crying out for a bag of Doritos are kept at bay. Drinking enough water also replenishes your energy, which is especially critical during the winter as there is hardly any opportunity to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Don't neglect this simple rule!
10. Plan a trip.
It doesn't have to be a month-long vacation to Hawaii (though I'm jealous if it is), but planning a trip or fun activity is a great way to keep motivated and looking to the future. After throwing my boyfriend the surprise party of his life last weekend with about 20 of his closest friends and family, I suffered major post-party depression. Not about to let winter to get the best of me, I committed to this ritual and then decided to book a weekend trip to Montreal in February! (Look, it wouldn't have been to Canada if my bf worked anywhere else, but in Montreal's defense they do speak French). Just having this exciting trip to look forward to has made a big difference - I feel more energized and focused to make it through the next few weeks so I can really enjoy mes petites vacances.
That's it! I suppose in the end none of these rules are particularly revolutionary, but executed together they WILL make a difference in your personal well-being. So try it out and let me know what you think. And if there's anything I've forgotten that helps you stay ahead of the winter woes, leave me a comment to let me know so I can try it, too!