Winter Doldrums Getting You Down? We Have Some Solutions For You!
Too many days in the house driving you crazy? Are the kids getting bored? Are school cancellations wreaking havoc with your schedule? Tips on coping and dealing with a winter of heavy snow storms
So you say you’ve had enough of winter—well, for a moment, can we consider that maybe, just maybe.,you could start enjoying…actually.. enjoying, winter?
I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous. Enjoy this mess? The shoveling! The bad roads! The long commutes! The school cancellations that throw everyone’s schedule into a ruckus!
Okay, so it does present, well, challenges.
But there is a flip side to winter: there are people out there who actually like it.
Yes, and I am one of them.
How did I grow to like winter? Well, here are my personal tips for enjoying winter. They worked for me. Maybe it will work for you.
• While summer is all about physical sensations that feel oh so good, i.e. the hot sun, the ocean, a lake, pools. So many good physical feelings in summer. It feels easy, right, our body smiling from getting all the Vitamin D it needs. Winter, on the other hand, presents physical challenges. We are cold. We are indoors. The sun is nowhere to be seen, and if it does show up, it is too cold to be outdoors enjoying it anyways.
Winter, on the other hand, presents mentally satisfying sensations. What better time of year to curl up with a few great books? How about reading the biographies of great persons in history who have always interested you? Or looking through cookbooks and trying a new recipe every week? (worked for that lady who did all the Julia Child recipes and got a movie out of it). You see, winter is about tickling the intellect. If there were subjects you enjoyed back in college or high school, now is the time to look into exploring these subjects. Once you step into something stimulating, fascinating, interesting, new, you’ll find you enter a flow that gives you a peace that has nothing at all to do with the weather. Try it.
• Since we are humans and being pleased physically is part of what we are made of, go buy a pair of ice skates, cross country skis, or a sled, and do something outside. Forget the fact that you are over 35. Ignore the cold. Don’t worry that you feel horrible when you step outside—and if dripping icicles frighten you away, call an intervention. Just ignore all the ‘no I can’t do that’ and get out there. Remember building snow forts as a kid? Snow ball fights? Recess when everyone got soaking wet after running up and down the snow-covered hill in the playground , it all felt so wild and incredibly good (okay, maybe that is just my own personal memory).
The bonus: there is sunlight outside. More than you realize, and if you can get yourself outside even for an hour, you’ll feel the sunshine smile come over your body, if only for awhile.
• Winter is about being indoors and liking that indoor world.
Ask yourself: what can you do right now, considering your budget and circumstances, that will make your indoor world more enjoyable? Can you buy some frames for a few great pictures sitting in your drawers? How about pictures of family and friends that you give you that warm-fuzzy-ahh feeling whenever you think of them? Can you put up some new curtains? Buy a candle with a scent that relaxes you or gives you a nostalgia buzz? How about putting some white lights up to illuminate your house a bit more? Or buying several floral wreaths and arranging them on the wall? Look around the house and ask yourself: what small things can I do to give myself more eye pleasure in this house?
Then consider the fun factor in your home. Okay, we know you probably have the Internet, TV, and video games. Right there, you have a fun factory that anyone in the 1800s would have probably considered downright criminal. (To get some perspective on the boredom that winter perpetuates, imagine living in 1850—what did they do on a snow day? Whittle? Play the fiddle? Sweep the floor?) They probably played their instruments and sang songs. Maybe they knitted or made things with their hands. They certainly didn’t sit around dreaming of a vacation on the Caribbean, which is where I think we all go wrong. If you can get a vacation to a warm climate, all the best to you—but if you can’t, there is no use in thinking excessively about warm beaches. That’s where television has done us wrong: no one in 1850 had so many visual images of warmth that they developed tropical beach envy. We turn on our TV and see nothing but commercials and shows in Hawaii, Aruba, Jamaica, and a host of other palm-tree cladden places. It fools us and it makes us think we are entitled to be on a warm beach, even though we have chosen to live in a cold climate.
Get a grip.
So do a few new things to make your indoor world more interesting. Take out your old keyboard and play a few songs. Do a family sing-a-long (just expect the kids to wage an all-out rebellion against it). Knit something. Crochet a blanket. Take up embroidery, latch-hook-a-rug, candy making. Write something. Paint something. Winter is an ideal time to explore different types of creativity.
And stop thinking you should be on a beach in the tropics somewhere.
Remember Almanzo from ‘Little House on the Prairie’? In one of the ‘Little House’ books on his childhood, a winter evening is described as being wonderful simply because the family was together in the living room, a bowl of apples and a bowl of popcorn to snack on. Mother was doing some type of handiwork. So was his sisters.
The scene was so serene and, how come we can’t feel that type of contentment, with all our electronics and technology?
Last week, I did an experiment. Tired of the amount of TV my children were watching, I called our cable company and just got rid of all TV. My intent was a few days of a good lesson learned. Instead, what happened surprised me: all of a sudden, our house felt, well, peaceful. So peaceful. More peaceful than it had felt in a long time. A lot of the bickering stopped. The kids started writing stories and painting pictures. They actually started playing together, the way they did when they were younger. The absence of technology made them more content, not more bored.
Last winter, we started making chocolate lollipops from molds. Then we put them in vases and made them into lollipop bouquets for friends and family. The thrill we felt when we looked at the beautiful bouquets and realized we made them…we actually made them! On a snow day a few weeks ago, we attempted to make homemade cinnamon rolls, dough and all. It took a total of four hours, but the pride we felt ate up the boredom and frustration that another day stuck in the house might have left us with.
To sum it up: accept it. You don’t live on a tropical island. Go outside when you can. Make indoors fun and mentally and creatively stimulating. And start counting the days until summer.
Here’s a few other ideas for a snow day:
• Play a board game
• Get out old photo albums
• Have a family movie night (or afternoon) and introduce them to movies you loved as a kid
• Do a family tree
• Paint each other’s nails, give massages and facials
• Put on some music and dance
• Take a nature walk
• Make and decorate sugar cookies or gingerbread men