How to Hibernate: A Step-By-Step Guide to Waiting Out Winter

January 21, 2018

We’ll be blunt: There’s absolutely no reason to go outside.

The first week of 2018 was the coldest on record for much of the country. Here at our Home Office in Philadelphia, we welcomed the New Year in the single digits. Which, to be fair, is positively balmy compared to Montana, where the mercury dipped to -58°. Even our Southern friends haven’t escaped the cold—Texas, Alabama, and Charleston have all seen snow in the year of the infamous “Bomb Cyclone” storm.

So how to cope with the less festive half of winter? Hibernate, hibernate, hibernate.

To be fair, we’re not the first to come up with this shelter-in-place strategy. Over in Denmark, where the sun is a rare sight in January, snuggling up at home is so celebrated that it warrants its own word: hygge. Whereas “hygge” has been clumsily translated in recent years to mean “cozy,” it goes deeper for the Danes, referencing a state of togetherness and self-care. Considering the country is regularly rated as the world’s happiest—and dusk regularly begins around 3 p.m.—we’d say they’re onto something.

In the name of research, we spent a weekend practicing our hibernation skills at Scribner’s Lodge, a luxurious retreat in the heart of the Catksills. While Scribner’s backyard offers 20 acres of mountains to explore, we focussed on getting aquatinted with each and every fireplace we came across. The result? This step-by-step guide to hunkering down until the weather decides to play nice.

If you ask us, no matter the season, brunch should always be served in bed. To set the tone for the day, wear your Sunday best (pajamasnaturally) and treat yourself to something decadent. We went with pancakes and strawberry compote—and you better believe we didn’t skimp on the powdered sugar.

One of the many perks of staying home for brunch? The post-pancake nap. Pull on your sleep mask, grab a fluffy dog, and settle in. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a quick 20-30 minute snooze is all you need to improve your mood and alertness—but in the name of hibernation, go ahead and add an extra 20 minutes or so.

Now it’s time to feel productive. Swap the PJs for just-as-comfy loungewear and spend some quality time with that book you’ve been meaning to start. Need a suggestion? Our friends at Belletrist have you covered.

The holidays were hectic, and before you know it, spring will be in full swing. Make the most of these rare quiet moments and take some time to catch up with your journal: What are you excited for in the year ahead? What are you thankful for in your life right now? According to some studies, regularly journaling is not only beneficial for emotional well-being, but it can also increase creativity.

Nothing brightens up a dreary winter afternoon like a fire. Before kicking back, make sure you have the essentials: a bottle of red, cozy socks, and s’mores fixings. (No fireplace? No problem. For a close-enough s’more, top a graham cracker with a marshmallow and pop it in your toaster oven. Once it begins to brown slightly, remove it and top with a square of chocolate and another graham cracker. You’re welcome.)

There’s a fine line between hibernating and cabin fever. Before the sun sets, bundle up and head outside (we won’t judge if you bring a blanket). Research shows that spending time in nature boosts energy and can leave you feeling calmer and happier; the scent of pine needles, in particular, is linked to decreased stressed and increased relaxation. Maybe winter isn’t so bad, after all.