So we've about reached that point in the year where I can no longer pretend that winter isn't happening. It's no secret I don't love it; I get cold very easily and am susceptible to additional mood issues relating to the lack of light.
Although I had a nice long hiatus from cold, dark winters when we lived in California, I did grow up in Alaska so this is nothing new for me. Over the years I've developed a number of coping mechanisms that I thought I'd share. So here it is: my 12 Step Plan to Surviving Until April.
1. Fleece. Lots of it. I have pullover fleeces and zip-up fleeces and fleece pajama pants and a fleece robe. I'm starting a collection of fleece scarves. There is just something so comforting about the cozy feel of fleece...you just can't have too much of it.
2. Lights. I know, it's not energy-frugal of me but I cannot STAND a dark house. As soon as the light outside starts to wane I have to go around and turn on all the main living area lights and close all blinds.
3. Along the same lines, we are going to try one of those alarm clocks that gradually lights up your room in the morning. Anyone have experience (good or bad) with them?
4. Planning a couple of house projects. Because we spend so much time in the house during the winter, it's a great time to look at the areas that need improving. On my list so far is a mini-makeover of our master bath.
5. Converting our three-season porch into usable space through the cold months. For the past two years we've basically just closed the room off as it's not insulated. I really miss having the space though. It's a great play space for the kids upstairs as well as the perfect place for art projects. We bought insulating blinds and put a space heater in there and so far it's doing the trick. It's making a big difference to me just knowing there isn't a part of my house that's freezing cold.
6. Keep exercising. This is crucial to combating the Winter Blahs.
7. Do not succumb to the desire to nap. I am not a good napper at the best of times. I have disturbing dreams and wake up really grumpy. This is even worse during the winter and it's so easy to feel sleepy without reason when it's cold and gray outside (this will take care of itself as the kids don't nap anymore...there really isn't ever the opportunity).
8. Having a plan for the Witching Hour, otherwise known as dusk. For some reason this time of day I often find myself at loose ends and it can set me in a funk for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Must. Keep. Moving.
9. Getting out at least a couple of evenings a month. Even when it's warm outside, I'm kind of a home body in the evenings. I just don't love going out. Add in early darkness and cold and I turn into a serious hermit. It really does help to get out though, and remember that the rest of the world does still exist even if we're all just scuttling from our houses to our cars to buildings and back again (side note here: I can go months without seeing my neighbors in the winter since we all park in our garages).
10. Play music in the house. This can also be a huge mood elevator during the Witching Hour. A good crazy dance party can make us all feel markedly better.
11. Wine. Needs no explanation.
12. Enjoying the benefits of the season. This means researching what events are going on in the community and bundling up to get ourselves out there. Chris loves ice fishing (I'd rather die) and the kids love snow play and sledding. I mostly just enjoy shoveling because the physical exertion means I don't feel so freaking cold. I am bound and determined to learn to snow shoe this year, not least because several of my friends do it and it could be a fun social activity.
If you live in a place that has cold winters, how do you cope? Anything I should be adding to my list?