Survival strategies for winter, my least favorite season.

Survival strategies for winter, my least favorite season.

I don’t like winter, but I like December. It’s festive and fun; twinkle lights twinkle everywhere and holiday anticipation fills the cold air. Where I live, December’s chill is new and novel. Sweaters feel good against skin that’s gone bare for too many months and the first snow is a miracle.

But then Christmas is over, the cold settles in, and spring remains two (or maybe three?) months away. The cold isn’t novel anymore. It’s oppressive. No twinkle lights brighten the dreary days.

Coming to terms with winter now that the holidays are over | Modern Mrs Darcy

I may not love winter, but I’ve learned to cope. Here’s how I’m getting myself ready for coping with my least favorite season.

(I’m not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. But these tips have helped me a lot.)

1. Bring the sunshine in.

I love my daylight, and I miss it this time of year. Despite knowing this, I waited too long to buy a light therapy box because I didn’t think I technically suffered from seasonal affective disorder. When I finally decided to get one anyway, I called it one of the smartest things I did that year.

I use my therapy light every morning. My mind knows it’s winter, but my body is happier with a little summer sunshine.

2. Get some fresh air.

I try to bring the sunshine in, but I get outside everyday too, if only for a quick dip into the park. I feel better when I breathe in fresh air and get myself outdoors into the actual sunshine, no matter how much it’s masked by winter clouds.

park winter

3. Get some exercise.

My doctor tells me we move less in the wintertime. This is a natural inclination, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. I make sure that every day I lift some weights, get on the treadmill or rower, do a yoga video. I’m happier—and sleep so much better—when I get some exercise.

4. Get some sleep.

Your body may even require more shut-eye in the winter months. (Mine does.)

5. Take your vitamins.

Vitamins are a recent addition to my winter regimen, because I used to think my healthy diet was sufficient. These days my doctor’s orders are a multivitamin, a B-complex, fish oil, and Vitamin D daily.

6. Embrace the cozy.

I desperately miss sunshine and warmth during these months. But winter does have its charms, and I’m doing my best to embrace them. I’m enjoying comfort food (stews and braises are my favorites). I’m lighting the fire, burning candles, and drinking tea. I’m curling up on the couch with a quilt and a good book.

Winter and I may not be on the best of terms, but I can manage till spring if I follow my own advice.

How do you feel about the winter months? What tips can you share for enjoying (or surviving) the season?

P.S. 9 novels to curl up with this winter.

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87 comments

  1. Tory says:

    Since I have gotten serious about running, I’m starting to love winter (which I’ve always hated!) Running in heat and humidity is miserable, and getting up at 4am for long runs in the summer is not much fun but the best way to beat the heat. In winter I can run at a more civilized time and enjoy perfect running temps (30-45 degrees here in the middle of the day) and faster times.

  2. Dana says:

    I am so not a winter girl….I was happiest when I lived in South Florida and could be outside every day. I love to garden and sit outside and read. Where I live now is not really cold in winter but cold enough for me. We get days of really cold weather followed by warmer days. I get outside every day by walking the dog…I bundle up and get put for 30 minutes 2 x per day. That really helps. I also let lots of sunshine into the house and I sit on my sunporch each morning while I eat breakfast even if I have to wear a couple of sweatshirts and a hat. Getting a lot of sunlight is key. I also indulge in my favorite hot tea from Caribou which is Earl Grey/Mango.

    What I do like about winter is sitting and reading without guilt since I can’t be out in the
    garden/yard. I also enjoy making soups and chili and baking bread.

  3. Allison says:

    Anne –

    I don’t mind winter. The bundling up is nice. I DO NOT like fall. Yes, I like cooler weather. But with the leaves falling off the trees – dying – it is depressing to me (and all that pumpkin flavored stuff – yuck!). And then when the clocks change and it gets darker earlier in the evening – it throws me off for weeks. Weeks. Today, it is 30F here but bright sunshine and blue skies. Not bad. Sure I would like it in the 60’s. But now I know spring (my favorite) is just around the corner. Aaahh – the new blooms, everything coming alive…the best. 🙂

  4. Corby says:

    When I lived in Connecticut in the winter I would change all the light bulbs (except the bedroom) to daylight bright light bulbs. They emit more blue light and really brighten a dark wintery day.

  5. kay kerns says:

    I’m another SAD one, grew up in Hawaii then moved to the Pacific Northwest. I started using light therapy and my doctor prescribed vitamin D. I use many of the coping strategies you and the other readers do plus I go on walks looking for signs of the coming spring…the foliage of spring-blooming bulbs peeking out, and the scent of winter-blooming shrubs. That helps a bit. Stay cozy!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    The hardest part of winter for me is the kids going stir-crazy. When they were little I could meet a friend at a McDonald’s Playplace or walk around the mall. Now that they’re too big for that it’s gotten more difficult. We have a really cool thing for homeschooler’s in the area though that we can take up to 5 classes through the area schools for free. So now we’re doing swimming lessons, gymnastics and music lessons. It has helped sooooo much! I still want to try out a lightbox though. Great ideas!

  7. Leanne says:

    You have some great coping ideas! Another thing that helps is planning events to get out with people; meeting someone for coffee or lunch, having a game night and inviting friends in, etc. Also drinking tea and reading lots of books!

  8. Jackie M. says:

    I love all of these suggestions — winter is my least favorite season as well — as soon as the holidays are over, I am ready for spring! We have been trying to make sure we take the dogs for a walk every day (even if it is a quick one), and I am all about embracing the cozy — we have blankets for every couch, and I just checked out the second Outlander book (you have me addicted to the series :)). I also left up the colored holiday lights around the kitchen window in the hopes that they will help dispel the gloominess of the January days.

  9. I love these tips, Anne. I, too, am not a fan of the winter (and we’ve had SO MUCH of it in Chicago these past two years!).

    One thing that really helps me is to keep a simple checklist of healthy habits that I’m trying to stick to. Since I lack focus and motivation in winter, having a checklist is a visual reminder of the things that I know I should do to have a good day (e.g., exercise for 30 minutes, light therapy box, drink 60 oz water, etc.).

    The other thing that’s been a Godsend is belonging to our local sports center. When it gets really really cold, it really helps to have a place where the whole family can go just to get out of the house (and it doesn’t hurt that the childcare is great!). We can also take the kids swimming a couple of times a week. It’s not a perfect solution; we can’t go when we’re sick, and we risk picking up more germs, but it’s worth its weight in mental health gold.

  10. Amy says:

    Anne,
    Lots of great tips! I am a gardener so I cope with winter cold and the blues by putting lots of attention into planning my garden: going over seed catalogs, making garden plans, etc. I’ll be starting seeds soon in indoor flats. All this helps me focus on a very positive thing: spring!! Also the kids and I do lots of de-cluttering of the house during winter, which helps me feel better about being inside so much. Blessings to you! (I’m thinking about trying one of those light boxes, I think I could use one.)

  11. Julie H. says:

    I love these suggestions! i just started teaching again after a looong winter break, and it’s hard to get back into the swing of things when it’s so freaking cold! The sunshine and exercise ones are my favorites.

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