“That’s it - I’m done with winter!” I grumbled to friends on a cold and rainy December morning in Pennsylvania. After over 20 winters filled with bitter winds, lingering brown slush, and hiding indoors, I decided to move to North Carolina for the warmer climate. Three years later I returned to the north for work, despite the constant warnings of, “You know it gets cold there, right?” I told myself I was ready to battle winter again. But Massachusetts winter fought hard and dirty that year with a snowstorm that led to over two feet of snow and the first statewide driving ban since 1978. I was trapped indoors with cabin fever and my only physical outlet was an exercise video. Even this was short-lived as my downstairs landlord was not a fan of jumping jacks and squat thrusts coming through the floorboards from my roommate and me. It turns out that I was not as ready for winter as I thought. I found myself feeling down and longing for spring. If you’re like me, you may find yourself feeling blue during the winter months.
In winter, there is less sunlight and it can be too cold to enjoy your normal activities. Some people spend more time indoors which might mean less interaction with others. The excitement of the holidays has disappeared in January and winter can seem like a house guest that doesn’t know it’s time to leave. Here are some ways to make your winter more enjoyable:
- Eat well. Put down the leftover candy from the holidays and pick up some fruits and vegetables. Share food with others. Host a potluck party. Start an e-mail chain with friends or family about your favorite recipes. Take advantage of seasonal foods. Did you know that there are plenty of farmers markets open in the winter? Explore new foods, recipes, and restaurants.
- Build a snowperson and make snow angels. You don’t have to be a kid to have fun in the snow!
- Volunteer your time, your knowledge, and your compassion. Help your neighbors shovel their sidewalk or dig out their car, serve others at your local soup kitchen, food bank, or food pantry, or take care of your favorite animal at a shelter.
- Bundle up. Make sure you have enough layers and the cold won’t seem as harsh.
- Get active! Take a brisk walk. Go sledding. Discover a new winter sport like skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. Too cold outside? Find a place indoors to get your blood pumping. Improve your flexibility and find peace with yoga. Many local malls open their doors on weekends before stores are open to provide indoor walking space for area residents.
- Visit your local botanical garden or arboretum. It won’t be as crowded this time of year, allowing you to peacefully revel in nature.
- Set goals. Commit to your resolutions or intentions. Own your new year. A friend of mine baked a new type of cupcake every month in 2013 to have something to look forward to and to share with friends. Think of your “cupcake” or something new you can do each month of 2014.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can mean different things to different people, but it typically involves quiet reflection and focusing on the present moment. The benefits of mindfulness include lowered stress, improved sleep, and it can even reduce the effects of colds!
- Journal your thoughts. This free activity not only captures memories, but it can also reduce stress and help you solve problems more effectively.
- Enjoy the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in February with friends.
- Join a book club or start your own book club with a winter theme. (Or a summer theme if that’s more enticing!)
- Plan ahead. Can’t stop thinking about warmer months? Start planning your summer vacation now.
Wishing you an enjoyable winter!
*While these suggestions are self-help tips to enjoy the season and potentially manage winter blues, it’s possible that you or a loved one might be depressed and need to talk to someone. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).*