There gets to be a point in winter where I cannot stand the inside of my own house anymore because I have spent far too many days and nights within its walls due to the frigid, icy air Wisconsin never fails to bring us every November through March. With the lack of sunshine and increased indoor captivity, it’s no wonder people suffer from winter blues during this time of year.
While I usually have a more difficult time keeping positive during the winter months, this year, I had a personal goal make a more conscious approach to enjoying the winter instead of praying for it to be over (although when February is upon us, it gets more and more difficult to do so).
Personally, I think my list should be split into two categories: above 20*F and below 20*F (and that’s including the wind chill). And the reason I split it into two categories, is because sometimes it’s too freaking cold in Wisconsin for outdoor activities. If the air hurts your face, go back inside.
If it does happen to be a rare, nice day out, you would definitely find me outside taking advantage of the sweet, breathable air, possibly doing one of the following activities:
- Taking a walk. Sometimes being able to get some fresh air, a change of scenery, and the release of some endorphins is what you need. Appreciate the sunshine and the beauty of winter—it’s there for those who know to look for it.
- Snowshoeing. Another way to take a walk through the snow or on a lake or through the forest—and it’s great exercise, which is great for your health and your mood.
- Sledding/Snowtubing. If you think you’re too old for sledding or snow tubing, you’re wrong. Nothing makes me feel more like a kid than getting all cuddled up in winter gear and flying down snowy hills. Seriously, do it—it’ll make you feel 10 years old again, and not many things can make you time travel like that. (Another obvious alternative would be skiing/snowboarding, which I have been meaning to do more of, but sadly have not due to lack of funds as this tends to be on the more expensive side of hobbies.)
- Go on a moonlight sleigh ride. While this is on the above 20*F list, I would like to note that I did this in -11*F weather this year (and I survived). I’ve been on a sleigh ride twice now, and while I wish it wouldn’t have been below zero the second time around, it was a fun and unique experience. (Tip: Bring extra blankets to stay warm!)
My finance’s family and I experienced our sleigh rides in Eagle River through Rocking W’ Stable. (Tip: Sit in the back, as the horses tend to pass gas!) They took us on a quiet trail through the north woods that eventually led to a roaring bonfire. It was a beautiful, clear night so the moonlight was shining through the pines—this could be pretty romantic, especially if started lightly snowing. About 3/4 through your ride, you will arrive at the bonfire clearing where hot chocolate will be available for you (Tip: bring along some extra holiday “spirits” for some extra fun!).
Now for below 20*F weather! When it’s too cold to be outside, it becomes much more about creating an environment rich in hygee (pronounce hue-gah). Hygee is the Danish concept of creating an environment that is cozy, comfortable, warm, content and actually celebrates winter time. Below is my advice for embracing winter time:
- Create a cozy atmosphere. Light candles and make sure you have plenty of soft blankets and pillows around. I keep my white Christmas lights up all year round because I like the ambiance. Change out your decor to include some wintery themed photos or trinkets. If you have one, light a fire and absorb the warmth!
- Bundle up. Isn’t one of the best parts about winter the big comfy sweaters, leggings, and fuzzy socks we get to wear? Pay attention to the comfiness and warmth of the materials. Get some long underwear, some wool socks, and quality winter gear for when you have to brave the outdoors. Layers make a big difference!
- Get in the kitchen. Tis the season for hot soups and chilis, hearty meals, and hot beverages. Treat yourself to some comfort foods and bake yourself some cookies.
- If the sun is shining, open your curtains, let it pour in. Soak up all the vitamin D you can while it’s available.
- Get out of your house once in a while. Whether it’s going out for dinner somewhere or just going to a friend’s house, sometimes it’s all you need to break up the monotony of your living room.
And finally, if you can afford it, schedule a trip or vacation in January or February. These are the hardest months for me, and even a couple days in the sunny, warm weather (or even a new place to explore and enjoy) can help you forget about the shorter, darker days.
What do you do to embrace winter?
See also, 7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mood.