Some people love winter, and I understand why. Fresh falling snow creates picturesque moments, and curling up on the couch with a good book or a nap sounds perfect, but I am just not a winter loving person. Don't get me wrong, I love experiencing all four seasons. I may have my moments in winter, but I also don't have a desire to live in summer year-round. However, the fact still remains that winter brings along its own set of challenges which play directly into my existing anxieties.
I enjoy walking around outside, discovering new parts of my city, people watching on a park bench, and generally staying active. All of these activities, however, prove more difficult in below-freezing temperatures (and don't even get me started on the wind). During this time of year, I find myself fighting against feelings of depression, malaise, and general sluggishness. I also find myself fixating more on food, as my brain naturally wonders into unhealthy thinking when there is nothing else to keep it occupied.
So how do I cope with winter?
Not perfectly, but I continue to develop strategies which I hope you find helpful.
Buy the right clothes
David and I do not own a car, so walking is our main form of transportation. Even utilizing public transit requires at least a few minutes outside. A few years ago, I decided to spend the extra money and invest in high quality outerwear: a down coat, rain boots, snow boots, an umbrella, fleece gloves, etc. It has made a considerable difference. Stepping outside in the cold is still not my favorite activity, but at least I stay comfortable, dry, and as warm as can be expected.
Change up your fitness routine, or start one
If you rely heavily on outdoor activities for fitness, you may struggle to feel motivated in winter. I know I do, but winter does not have to mean hours of sitting inside. Take this opportunity to explore new fitness routines, although be careful not to force yourself into anything you don't like (more on that here). In warmer months I enthusiastically wake up for a 9:00 am group fitness class each Saturday; in the winter the idea of forcing myself into the cold that early in the morning terrifies me. Instead of saying goodbye to the gym all together, I find a new class at a more desirable time (in my case, right after work). Yes, it means rearranging my schedule, but it's worth it.
For me, warm weather means a booked social calendar, so why does winter have to be any different? My friends and I may not gather at the neighborhood rooftop bar, but meeting at a cozy coffee shop is equally as nice. While hibernating under the covers is also a perfectly acceptable solution to winter, surrounding myself with friends helps push the gloominess away.
Embrace the slower pace
One of the hardest things for me is accepting the slower pace of colder months, but I think it's the most important coping mechanism. We all push ourselves to maximum energy levels during the year, so why not take a little time to relax? Winter can be the perfect time to catch up on much needed rest, work through a growing list of must read books, catch up on your favorite TV show, or simply enjoy the peace and quiet.
Staying active, both physically and mentally is important, but so is knowing when to take it easy - in some ways, winter is the world's way of forcing us to slow down.
Do you have any additional tips for getting through winter? If so, I would love to hear from you!
Walking enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, sports lover (watching, not playing), and future world traveler.
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