8 years ago my husband and I (with our two cats) all jammed into our car and made the long drive from Tampa Florida to Boston Massachusetts to start a new life. We arrived a week before Christmas and our Christmas tree was one of the first things we unpacked. Several days later we experienced our first Blizzard (the first of four that came by in a row). We were not very well prepared. I can remember shoveling our car in jeans and sneakers. I had grown up in Florida from the age of two and anything under 50 degrees seemed unbearably cold, so that first winter really put the fear of winter in me.
So, how am I doing 8 years later? Better. Much better. Here is what I do to Survive the New England Winters.
1.) Acceptance: I honestly feel like the winters up here have put me through the stages of grieving. I was Shocked that it could actually snow as much as it does. I was in Denial it would happen again (honestly, there have been some years I was like “Maybe this winter it won’t snow?”). Anger has always really been there…but on the plus side, I’ve found that channeling it into shoveling has helped. Bargaining between my husband and I and God has been a thing for sure. Depression, when the sky is grey, and the snow is old and gross looking and you think you will never see a warm day, or trees with leaves again? yeah, I’ve been there. Testing for me involved squirreling away freezer meals and drinking rum and cokes while listening to Bob Marley, in the hopes it would “inspire” happiness and better weather (it failed to do either except make me drunk cry to “Three Little Birds”. Now I’ve reached acceptance. It’s winter. It’s going to be cold. It will snow, and I will have to leave my home at some point. Knowing this and accepting it means I can look for opportunities to dare I say…Enjoy it?
2.) Be Prepared: I no longer shovel snow in sneakers (thank God) I have snow boots. I’ve learned that there are actual snow clothes you can wear which has vastly improved my tolerance of the stuff. I also know that being cold or out in the cold exhausts me, so I always have a few freezer meals on hand like soups and stews and spaghetti Sauces and Chili which I can just warm up and eat with little to no effort.
3.) I Spoil Myself: You know the saying “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?”, well, that applies here. While on Pinterest I started to learn about this thing called Hygge and pronounced Hoo-ga. It was the Danish concept for really being in the moment. The focus was on the senses. Eating food that made you happy. Taking time to slow down, read, or do crafts, drink hot chocolate, watch the snow and enjoy it while cuddled up in a warm blanket with candles burning. I loved the way it made my heart feel just to read the ideas, and seeing snow days as a gift rather than being grounded by nature has helped.
4.) Have Reasons to Get Out of the House: Cabin Fever is real people, and if you don’t want to end up like Jack Nickleson in the Shining, I highly suggest you get out of your home once in a while, even if it’s just for a walk. I’m fortunate to live in a very active city, so going out means getting groceries, going to the gym, and going into Boston twice a week to see my therapist (who also helps me emotionally survive the winter). That’s not to mention the meetups, coffee shops, and Libraries that I can ride the subway too. It might be an effort to get all dressed up in jackets and scarves, but it’s worth it!
5.) Be Health Focused: As I said above I see a therapist. For many people, winter time is hard. You have the holidays where you deal with tough social situations (or that lack thereof), and then winter, in general, can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder which can cause depression, Low energy, sleep problems, and even suicidal thoughts! There are tons of ways to help this which can range from light therapy (because during the winter you may not be getting enough sunlight), and vitamins. In general though, if you focus on being healthy you can also help yourself feel better. Eat good healthy food. Get good sleep. Meditate. Go to the gym (which can also count as being social), and just focus on self-care.
6.) Keep Your Mind Occupied: Part of the reason I get annoyed with winter is that I’m typically a very active person. I like to always be doing something, and when I can’t leave the home because there’s a blizzard whipping through, I can actually feel a little panicked! One way I’ve found can help this is by doing mentally stimulating activities. I blog, organize my Pinterest, read books I’ve been putting off because I’m too busy. I also paint a lot during the winter. I play video games, but sparingly since they can also trigger depression in me if I play for too long. I like to watch documentaries (even crazy ones like Ancient Aliens) just for the sheer experience of having something to think about whether that’s about the process of being a Sommelier from the documentary Somm, or deciding whether I think Aliens are not just out there, but if them visiting would be good or not. The whole point is to give my brain something it can chew on for hours. So pick a topic and research it, even those really weird topics you’d normally be too busy to indulge.6.) Keep your mind occupied: Part of the reason I get annoyed with winter is that I’m typically a very active person. I like to always be doing something, and when I can’t leave the home because there’s a blizzard whipping through, I can actually feel a little panicked! One way I’ve found can help this is by doing mentally stimulating activities. I blog, organize my Pinterest, read books I’ve been putting off because I’m too busy. I also paint a lot during the winter. I play videogames, but sparingly since they can also trigger depression in me if I play for too long. I like to watch documentaries (even crazy ones like Ancient Aliens) just for the sheer experience of having something to think about whether that’s about the process of being a Sommelier from the documentary Somm, or deciding whether I think Aliens are not just out there, but if them visiting would be good or not. The whole point is to give my brain something it can chew on for hours. So pick a topic and research it, even those really weird topics you’d normally be too busy to indulge.
7.) Be Social: I am an introvert. Don’t get me wrong. I like interacting with people, but I don’t get anything out of it on an energetic level. I might go to a party and have fun, but there’s part of my soul that is constantly daydreaming of how nice it will be to go home and rest and while some people can feel “recharged” after being social, I often feel drained and need at least a few hours (sometimes as much as a day or two of little human interaction, especially after a big party) to feel good again. So please know I am saying this to myself as well as you that being social during the holidays may feel like a chore, but it’s essential to not slip into depression. You can’t be sad about not having friends if you’re making the choice to not interact with them. So schedule some dinners, brunches, and meetups. Who knows, it might actually be fun!
8.) Explore Playing in the Snow: I remember as a kid, I LOVED it when it snowed two inches while I was visiting my grandma one year. I completely lost my mind! Even now, I see kids and they love the snow! I asked one Bostonian about it and they said “I feel like the more winters I spend up here the harder they get. I wasn’t like this as a kid. I loved the snow, but as I grew up, I started to hate it more and more”. Not growing up with snow made me think about this a little. The conclusion I came to was that we forgot how to seek out ways to have fun in it. It’s something you shovel. It’s something you “deal with”, but there’s nothing stopping me from finding out how to have fun in it. I can go ice skating at Frog Pond in the Boston Common. I can still build a snowman. I built a snow dragon on my front lawn once. Did my neighbors look at me funny? Yeah! Did I care? A little, until I realized that they wouldn’t remember in six months, and I had tons of fun and would remember for years! You don’t need permission from anyone to have fun. So build that snowman (or dragon), take figure skating lessons, go skiing, or just make a snow angel and be a kid again. I also highly suggest having some nice hot chocolate with maybe a little adult kick like Baileys, mixed in as a reward!
So those are my compact ways of surviving the New England Winters. Do you have any unique ways of surviving winter in your areas? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to SIGN UP if you want to be notified on future posts!
*All Pictures are the property of Warner Brothers and I do not own them.