Seattle winters may be gloomy, but that doesn’t mean that you (or I) have to be. This year is my second Seattle winter, and while I’m not a seasoned veteran yet (pun intended), it’s shaping up to be much happier than last year. There are a lot of ways to combat the winter gloom, and even enjoy the rainy days, weeks, and let’s be honest months.
Any Seattle local will tell you that winter isn’t one of the Pacific Northwest’s better qualities. The winters aren’t exactly cold, but they do last until May, and are “cold” in so many other ways. It’s dark by 4 p.m., you can go weeks without seeing the sun, and (here’s a good one) a constant misty drizzle means you will have a bad hair day almost everyday.
I moved to Seattle in the summer when it is sunny and pretty much picture perfect (it’s a trick). I didn’t believe the locals who warned me that Seattle winters can make you really sad. I had survived some pretty gnarly East-Coast snowstorms, so how hard could a little rain be?
Turns out, excruciatingly hard. When February rolled around, I was not at all prepared for how gloomy and grumpy I’d feel. Determined to find ways to squash that nasty feeling and stay positive, I’ve found some things shared below that have worked for me.
Made for Movies
One of the upsides to Seattle winters is that they happen at the same time as Oscars Season. You will NEVER feel guilty sitting inside watching a movie in Seattle so go forth, and watch to your heart’s content. I mean a lot. I hereby give you permission as a local to eat popcorn for dinner, grab a glass of wine (Olivia Pope-style), and work toward that film aficionado status!
Cuddling up on the couch with a book is great, but there is something about the transportive power of the movies that can make you feel like you are sunbathing on the French Riviera when it’s actually 40 degrees and 100 percent humidity outside. Thanks to the Seattle International Film Festival (May-June), Seattle has a ton of great movie theaters that show everything from blockbuster hits, to artsy indie films, to screenings of classic movies and foreign films. The SIFF theaters sell beer and wine (in addition to candy and popcorn) if you prefer your snacks in liquid form.
If leaving the comfort of your couch still sounds like too much on a rainy Sunday it is ok to binge watch a movie or two. Netflix, HBO, and Hulu all have new and returning shows that premier in the winter months. Look forward to “VEEP” and “Silicon Valley” on HBO, and the “Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu. If you are trying to catch up on shows you may have missed over the holidays, you need to watch Season 2 of “The Crown” on Netflix and Season 4 of “Broad City” on Hulu.
Move that body
We all know that staying active helps combat the gloom, but if it’s hard to get to your gym–or if you don’t have one–it can be hard to motivate yourself to get physical. Once the cold, damp weather seeps into your bones, it is much more inviting to put on an extra layer of socks and binge watch “The Crown” for the third time. The good news: if you can get yourself to go, it will feel like a luxury because a gym or yoga studio is one of the few places outside of your apartment that you will be warm and dry!
The indoor community pool in Queen Anne was a life saver during my first Seattle winter. Swimming got me out of the house (I had to take a break from the movies) and kept me active, boosting my endorphins and keeping the winter blues at bay. I may have been the youngest person at adult swim by 30+ years, but the water was warm, and the sauna was even warmer! And if swimming isn’t for you, hot yoga is also a great option (perfect for meditation, toastiness, and keeping your body moving).
If you aren’t a Seattle local, or again, are trying to avoid leaving your apartment at all costs (are you seeing the theme here?), choose from a number of inspiring fitness accounts on instagram to follow for #fitspiration. I love @mynameisjessamyn for body-inclusive yoga inspiration, @toneitup for free workout routines and a supportive community, and @kayla_itsiness for enviable abs and workouts designed for home and gym.
Hyggefy your home
There is a reason that Amazon came up with two-hour Prime delivery in Seattle–it’s because we try to leave our apartments as little as possible between January and May.
Since you will be spending a lot of time at home, it’s worth making your home a place you want to be. This is where the Scandinavian concept of hygge kicks in. Hygge is all about fostering a sense of well-being by focusing on simple pleasures and comfort. You would be surprised just how much a cup of tea, a good book, some nice candles, a chunky knit blanket, and a hot bath will go to make the dark evenings feel cozy. But if you don’t believe me, trust the Scandanavians who have even colder, longer, and darker winters than Seattleites. I splurged on an electric blanket this year and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it has been life-changing!
If no amount of candles, blankets, yoga practices, or movies do the trick, it’s okay to admit that you need a break from Seattle. Book yourself a winter escape trip. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and a long weekend somewhere sunny and warm will do wonders for your soul and your relationship with the city. Alaska Airlines has a hub in Seattle and often has winter deals to Hawaii, Mexico, and California. There’s no shame in booking a weekend beach getaway to rejuvenate after the third straight week without sun.