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Coping with the Winter Blues

image of woman outside with text about winter
As a lifelong Northerner who plans on staying one for the duration, I still have an annual battle with the depths of winter. In line with darn near everyone else who has to deal with lengthy bouts of whipping winds, snow measured by the foot, and cold that makes the inside of your nose STICK TO ITSELF, I have to mind freak myself into coping with the blues that accompany the harshest season. I’ve discovered two tried-and-true coping mechanisms that work when these feelings set in. Every year, I seem to fall victim to seasonal depression and, like clockwork, my mind subconsciously finds the same ol’ ways to pull me out; namely escapism and acceptance. While I can’t (and don’t necessarily want to) truly escape, my mind pushes me to crave summertime. Even the visualization of looking forward to something is enough to pull me out of my slump. Summer is also when my family (and many others) puts its hard earned-and-saved funds to good use in the form of a modest vacation or two. I’m talking a 3-4 hour car trip (max) for a night or two at a reliable, kid-friendly hotel with a mix of family fun, food, culture/history, and sometimes a beach thrown in for good measure. I’ve also toyed with the idea of a camping adventure at a cabin in the Adirondacks. So, this time of year is when I start my research. The excitement of planning our fun is almost as invigorating as the trips themselves. So, picturing the accommodations, making an itinerary to meet our family’s needs, and simply thinking ahead about the change of seasons (“this, too, shall pass”) helps when digging out of yet another snow storm. *Picturing sunglasses, shorts and sandals, stops for ice cream and hotdogs, and smearing on sunscreen. Okay, maybe the sunscreen’s not so fun, but still.* The second coping mechanism I’ve learned relatively recently is acceptance, meaning go ahead and find out what you actually like about the season and embrace it. I try hard never to complain about winter itself because, well, I choose to live here specifically for nearby family and for the four distinct seasons - warts and all. (That doesn’t apply to family...er, generally.) So, if you enjoy being active and don’t mind the cold, go for walks, build snowmen with your kiddos, try out skiing or snowshoeing, go snowmobiling...whatever sparks joy. And please don’t say that there’s nothing you like about winter because I get it! However, you can still take full advantage of the inactivity of the season by staying in. Get your hygge on! Winter is nothing if not COZY. Bask in the warmth of a fire, snuggle with your kids under a huge, fluffy blanket, enjoy the escape of a good book, or partake in the guilty pleasure of a movie with a big mug of hot cocoa. Animals are smart; take their lead and create your own comfy den of hibernation. And if your kids are climbing the walls due to winter boredom (we can relate, children!), check out our post on indoor winter family fun ideas. You could also stick your nose up at winter by being uber productive. Use the indoor nature of the season by getting all those little indoor house projects done. We’re doing any painting or fix-it projects that we can (y’know, when the three kids allow us time to do so, ha) so that we don’t have them hanging over our heads when things thaw out and we get back outdoors to have fun...and do our outside chores. ;-) Oh, and if you hate the cold (and since we all have to go out into it at some point), the best weapon is preparation. Nice, heavy coats, insulated gloves, stylish hats (I’m totally a knitted beret girl), soft scarves, and tall, heavy-duty boots can do a lot to make the weather a non-issue - both physically and mentally. I know that sounds like a big “duh” suggestion, but I can’t count how often I see grown adults not properly suited (literally) to handle the winter weather...and it’s kind of ridiculous. Even on a blustery day, this is often enough to make the weather far less of an annoyance. And, of course, if you find yourself growing truly depressed during this season or any other, your best bet is still to let your loved ones and doctor know and to seek out professional help. There is absolutely zero shame in getting yourself the help you need, and you’re far too important NOT to be in your best mental state possible; for yourself and for your family. Believe me, I’ve been there throughout my life. We need you.

image of winter woods outside

So, how is everyone else faring with winter this year? It’s been a crazy one for folks who don’t normally get super cold or super snowy weather, so we’d love to hear what YOU do to battle the particularly harsh aspects of winter (ie the winter blues).
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