Five Ways You Always Set Yourself Up for A Long, Dark Winter

The Urban Monk

People usually get nervous right before the winter.

The sun goes down much earlier those days, the weather in most parts of the country starts to turn cold, flu and covid rates rise, and the holidays are like a freight train coming straight at us.

We barely catch our breath from the summer and bang, we head into the hardest time of the year for many people with unresolved trauma, depression, anxiety, mood “disorders”, SAD, holiday grief, and more.

Whether you love the holidays or dread them, they may not look the same going forward as we’re used to them looking.

The coronavirus changed the way we celebrate… and some people don’t want to go back.

But we’ve got the edge on winter — it cannot surprise us if we’re prepared!

In fact, if we start thinking now, we can probably get out ahead of the long, dark winter that’s only four months or so away.

You can begin by avoiding these five major mistakes.

Throwing Away Your Bones

When you cook meat with bones, do you toss them at the end of your meal? If you do, you’re missing out.

Ideally, you should make bone broth out of bones that are uncooked or roasted.

Keep a freezer bag of all the bones you accumulate during the coming months, and you’ll be able to treat yourself to warm, rich, nourishing bone broth once your bag is full.

Sitting, Laying, or Curling Up Most of the Time

It’ll be cold and dark, and plenty of us will still be working from home.

Under those conditions, it’s totally possible to spend an entire week barely moving.

But that is the worst thing you can do.

So many studies show the myriad mental benefits of exercise. If you want to stay in peak physical shape, that’s a perfectly fine motivation.

Exercise is imperative for optimal gut health, neuroplasticity, and can even fertilize nerves in the brain (especially the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex). That means it literally prepares you to deal with emotional distress.

Make yourself a plan — even if it’s a light plan — and stick to it. Twenty minutes of yoga is better than zero.

Twenty laps around your living room are better than sitting.

Twenty minutes on an exercise bike a day can make a world of difference.

Get into the habit now to have to best chance of sustaining it throughout the winter.

Binging on Junk Food

It’s the season for all kinds of treats — candies, hot cocoa, those dopamine-inducing snacks that your brain thinks it wants because it’s used to them, huge sumptuous holiday feasts, and other comfort foods.

Here’s the beautiful thing about being alive in 2021 and not 1980 — we have so many resources to replace our favorite things with nourishing things.

Mac and cheese your kryptonite? Try making it with sheep’s milk and replacing the pasta with chickpeas.

Potato chips begging for your attention? Slice some sweet potatoes extra thin, toss them in olive oil and sea salt, and broil them in a big batch.

Craving rich, creamy chicken pot pie? Try it totally plant-based by replacing the chicken with lentils.

Dying for hot cocoa? Have one! But use real cacao.

Drowning in Television

The spring and summer (so far) are reflecting record-breaking outdoor time.

Last year, the country basically ran out of bicycles, rollerblades, and kayaks. Airbnb was saved from bankruptcy by city folks paying for rural retreats while they worked remotely.

But… burnout is probably headed our way. Travel numbers are almost at pre-pandemic levels and many vaccinated people have returned to “normal” life, partying at bars and restaurants and maskless on the beach.

Sooner or later, we return to the couch. And while there’s plenty of wholesome, valuable television in the world to watch (like, which you can actually try for free for two weeks), it’s a timesink.

People who say they don’t have the time to do the things they want are often astounded by how much time they spend watching television when they start to track it.

Set yourself a reading goal list this winter.

Promise yourself that you’ll only watch one episode tonight of your favorite show, and meditate for an hour instead.

Commit to no-TV-in-the-bedroom rules.

Staying Up Late Because your Circadian Rhythm is Funky

Speaking of no TV in the bedroom, wintertime can really wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm.

Especially if you’re not getting up in the morning and heading to work and coming home at the end of the day, signaling to your body that it’s time to wind down.

Set up a special nighttime ritual to ensure you’re getting decent sleep. Be strict with it.

Plan to be off your screen about an hour before you want to be asleep. Stretch before you get into bed. If it makes you feel more ready for bed, shower before you crawl under the covers.

Soothing music? A journal or novel by your bedstand? Knitting? Whittling? Reciting poetry in your head?

Whatever works for you!

Covering all of your bases before you sink into a depression will help you make it through the dark months and come out in the spring ready to tackle the new growth of the Earth rather than spending that time pulling yourself out of a four-month bad mood.

Make your broth, get good sleep, get up and move, treat yourself to delicious whole-food versions of your comfort foods, and turn off the TV whenever you think of it.

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