Surviving and Thriving in Winter

Surviving WinterMy wife and I currently make our home in northern New York, minutes from Lake Ontario.  Our region is known for what may be charitably called robust winters.  I did not grow up here but my better half did.  This winter reminds her of the winters she remembered as normal, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s.

Winter can be a very challenging time for people.  It’s not just that the cold climes cost more (fuel bills), but the combination of low temps, lack of sunlight due to shorter days, and midwinter doldra tend to really take it out of people.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real physiological and psychological condition.  The shorter days combined with the lack of sunshine due to precipitation (particularly acute if you live near a large body of water) issue in lower amounts of Vitamin D and lack of endorphin and dopamine that we derive from sunlight.  It’s a tough time for lots of people.

I have zero patience for those who say “just get over it” (or other useless crappy platitudes like this) regarding mid-winter blues.  Zero patience.  This stuff is real.  Medical and mental health professionals are well aware of it.  Those who make light of it are fools, pure and simple.

I’ve lived in this region that experiences long and, at times, difficult winters.  And I’ve learned a few things about surviving and thriving in the cold and snowy portions of our year.  Here are a few:

  • Supplement your diet with Vitamin D.  We get this naturally from sunlight, but when sunlight is rare, you must make up for what the sun cannot give you.
  • Pay particular attention to those around you.  My wife is very positive and for that I am very thankful.  But my routine can bring me into contact with people who are not as positive.  Cynicism, sarcasm, trash-talk, etc. are all unedifying as a rule.  But it presents us with larger challenges during difficult seasons.  Avoid negative human beings as much as humanly possible.  Period.  It’s about surviving and you cannot thrive if you listen to those who want to sink your boat.
  • Eat well.  It’s easy when feeling down to indulge your sweet tooth with stuff loaded with sugar or cheap carbs.  Avoid.  You feel good…for about an hour.  Then you’ll feel worse.  Winter is the best time to make sure you eat healthy.
  • Listen to stuff that gives you energy and an uplift.  I have loved film scores for years.  But in times like these, it’s jazz and rock and roll that help keep me sane.  Stuff that feeds melancholy not only does not work; it’s counter-productive.  Same goes for learning and input.  I value people like Brian Tracy, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins and pastor Bill Johnson immensely in times like these.
  • Remember, winter is limited.  It has a terminus.  We’re only 33 days from spring.  This season will end—just a matter of time.
  • The heavy precipitation is important, though a pain.  It helps keep the water table high (you have to live near friends whose wells run dry to appreciate this).

What kinds of winter survival tips can you share?  We’re all ears!

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