Even for the most social of us, in the dead of winter, staying in becomes a lot more desirable than braving the cold. Until the snow melts in spring, we live our lives indoors as much as possible.
Just like how winter occurs like clockwork, so does “cuffing season.”
“Cuffing” happens when you settle down with a snuggle buddy to stay cozy with until the weather warms up. This seasonal attachment also helps ease loneliness (thanks, seasonal depression) and pressure that comes with holiday parties and expected cheer, said Emily Cosgrove, marriage and family therapist and women’s life coach.
Typically, these winter flings fizzle out as warmer weather — and more opportunities — come around.
While there’s nothing wrong with starting a relationship during the winter months, it’s important to make sure it’s for the right reasons.
There’s also nothing wrong with hooking up with someone during the winter. Again, it just has to be what you want, not what you feel pressured to do.
“Cuffing up just to have someone and avoiding those (‘why’) questions reflects your insecurity and isn’t a healthy way to start any relationship,” Cosgrove said. “Process these feelings and don’t let others opinions affect the way you view yourself and make choices for your life.”
Since relationships are an investment that take time to develop and grow, why not take the time and energy from your winter fling and direct it toward yourself?
Instead of Netflix and chilling with someone you wouldn’t spend as much time with during the other three seasons, dedicate the wintertime to spending quality time with yourself.
Try new things, visit new museums, eat at new restaurants or reconnect with old hobbies that fell by the wayside. If this feels overwhelming (we get it, Netflix is tempting) then grab a notebook and jot down everything that you’ve been wanting to try or get back into.
On that note, instead of spending money and time on someone else, why not do some real self-care during this time? Invest in a quality journal, engage with a new therapist or come up with a mindfulness routine to help you combat any feelings of loneliness or seasonal depression.
“Consider doing a 30-day mindfulness challenge to get a better sense of yourself and develop some awareness about why you might be drawn to cuffing season,” New York-based therapist Melissa Robinson-Brown said. “Use this time to develop a more intimate and loving relationship with yourself.”
instead of catching feelings this cuffing season I think I’m gonna just like read a book or something
— Sterling, but with a clown nose (@sterfryed) October 10, 2019
Avoiding cuffing season most definitely does not mean you’ll end up lonely, sad and cold. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket — redirect your energy on other relationships and strengthen your bond with friends and family.
Plan a friend trip to somewhere warmer to make some memories or put in more effort to call or FaceTime your long-distance loved ones.
This is also an opportune time to meet new friends by joining leagues, teams or groups you’ve been too intimidated to try. Maybe you’ll end up in a book club with some fellow bookworms or join a hockey league and make friendships that last way longer than any winter fling would.
If you find yourself feeling restless and bored, make some changes to your home. After all, you’re probably spending more time there than anywhere else during the winter.
“Give yourself something to do and refresh your home by visualizing how you want to feel in your space,” Cosgrove said.
Want to feel more peaceful and calm? How about more vibrant and lively? Choose new colors and decor, and give your current possessions the Marie Kondo treatment, to find what leaves you feeling happy and inspired. This is a great opportunity to try out new DIY projects and tap into your creative side.
You can re-energize your mental space by creating a vision board for how you want to grow and develop in the new year.
“Winter is also the time when people tend to hibernate and lose sight of new year’s fitness and health resolutions,” Robinson-Brown said. “Instead of following that trend, dial in on new fitness and nutrition goals for yourself.”
Come up with a detailed wellness routine for yourself, which can include trying healthier recipes, developing an exercise habit or setting a fitness goal, like running a marathon.
Regular exercise — just 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity three days a week — can contribute to lower stress levels, better sleep and better focus. And those exercise endorphins will feel really nice during the winter darkness.
Use this time to work toward your biggest long-term goals.
“If you have a plan or a dream you are working on or towards, redirect the focus and energy you would have put into cuffing just for the season into getting yourself one step closer towards your goals,” Cosgrove said. “Don’t waste a few months out of the year investing in something that has no future for you doesn’t help you in the long run.”
Always wanted to backpack the Appalachian Trail? Why not start planning and training now? Or maybe this is the perfect time to sit down and make a real budget so you can finally achieve your financial goals.
“Your sense of self-esteem and feelings of mastery will thank you for it,” Robinson-Brown said.
Kathleen Wong is a Honolulu-based writer with bylines in The Cut, Broadly, Mic, Mashable and more.