Surviving Winter With Minimal Suffering

tumblr_lwk8yvyupW1qzx6wko1_500Ahhh…such a great movie!

My dear friends,

Today was a day like any other.  A lot of day-dreaming, a lot of thinking how I could really go for a hot dog right now, a lot of time congratulating myself for drinking green tea, a lot of time wondering what my dog’s favourite song is, and then a lot of time genuinely wondering where the day went.  Except today was not quite a day like any other: I had to book an appointment to get my winter tires balanced and slapped on my car.  (Yes, I am aware that this is January, I live in Canada, and thus have already had to contend with snow for at least a month now).  I looked outside, and saw not-so-special snow flakes piling up so spitefully on my car, and blanketing the rest of the countryside with their treacherous lies of “Oh, there’s no ice over here…You’ll be saaaafe…Just a little bit closer….” and BOOM! Broken hip!  Although most winter guides have already come and gone in November, well, January *is* the month where all the holiday baking runs out, you feel pressured meet some sort of obligatory New Year’s resolution, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is in full, glorious swing.  January is also the month where one comes to the grim realization that maaaaaaaannn, there are at least two months left of this suckitude.  So here are some tried and true words of wisdom from someone who knows this weather all too well:

1) Maybe winter doesn’t have to suck. Like all your mom’s self-help books are quick to remind you, we may not have the ability to control everything that happens to us, but we certainly have the power to control how we respond to them.  Changing our mindset about winter just might allow us to enjoy ourselves, and appreciate the season as one of crucial of restoration.  Instead of seeing winter as something to endure, let’s try to see the positive things winter has to offer.  Look to Canada, Scandinavia, the Northern U.S. and other places who have incorporated winter into their culture, identity and pastimes.  And y’know, while we have to trudge through un-plowed driveways and warm up our cars well in advance, let’s give major props to our wintry ancestors, who wouldn’t really know whether or not they’d survive the winter. It lends an extra urgency to Christmas celebrations, eh?

2) Dress for the weather. Just because you’re wearing a pair of tights as pants, it doesn’t mean that Old Man Winter is going to take notice and crank up the sun.  To paraphrase an old saying from Somewhere Cold, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation for it. If there’s a blizzard outside, don’t put on your Spring trench and ballerina flats.  For the longest time, and to my mom’s dismay, I’d be the idiot who’d wear little sneakers everywhere and spend half of the time assuring my friends that my feet weren’t freezing.  Two years ago, I finally got myself a pair of boots, and they changed my life.  I no longer prance from semi-dry spot to semi-dry spot like a demented deer ballerina.  If you have go-go-gadget arms like me, winter ushers in at least three months of cold wrists.  Step out of that most un-fun rap fame, friends, and get yourself some extra-long mittens to stave off the chill, and keep your eyes open for coats with long sleeves.  It’s a bit of a challenging hunt, but they’re out there, and they’re worth it!

3) Make sure others can dress for the weather, too. Donating your surplus warm clothes and coats to the less fortunate will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling elsewhere: your heart!

4) Try to exercise. Think of those rosy-cheeked snowshoe and ski enthusiasts you see in weekend adverts, forget that they’re models who are likely posing in front of a screen, and head out for some winter fun of your own. Skiing, skating, sledding…endless possibilities to take advantage of!  Plus, if you fast-forward to a dreary, rainy Spring day, you’ll be wishing for an afternoon at the skating rink, followed with hot chocolates (extra chocolate, extra marshmallows).  My former boyfriend got really ambitious last winter, when he was training for a fitness test.  Regardless of the cold, he would run laps outdoors at top speed.  Flush with admiration(while he was flush with wind-burn), I had the oh-so-important task of logging his progress…from my seat on the (indoor) couch.  If you’re cabin-bound, try to do some indoor exercise, like tackling a long-procrastinated project around the house, or spending a few minutes dancing, or head out to the gym with a friend.

5) Comfort food! Comfort food is always the right choice, regardless of the season.  This winter, though, take advantage of the special pleasure of stews, hot soup, dumplings, fancy bread, pierogies, heavy beer, mac and cheese, Korean BBQ, cinnamon rolls, holiday baking, turkey, heavenly mashed potatoes, and every possible combination of sugar and carbs.  Leave those microwave suppers and “salad-for-supper” meals for warmer times, when they might actually be filling.  Winter is time for hibernation!

6) Try to keep your house kind of clean. In wintertime, we have Ab Fab marathons to watch, hot chocolate to drink, and skates to think about lacing up.  We don’t really have the time to be scrubbing mountains of dishes, nor do we have the will to.  A dirty house can put a damper on your spirits, so try to keep your house semi-clean on a regular basis, with the hope that you won’t have to summon massive reserves of energy to spend the weekend cleaning house.  Since we’re indoors more often in winter, our surroundings play an even bigger role in our moods and motivation.

7) Treat yo’ self. Wear your favourite outfits on undeserving days.  Have that second lunch.  Spend the entire day crafting a winter playlist.  Splurge at the grocery store.  Buy yourself flowers.  Top up your savings account.  Put off your chores to write in your journal.  Hot drinks that are heavy on the Bailey’s. Call your friends to hang out, even if you just saw them yesterday.  Buy fancy coffees with flavoured shots, whipped cream, and a high sprinkle quotient.  Take your vitamins. Look at puppies doing cute things on Youtube. Daydream.  Anything you do to cheer yourself up, by all means, do it!

And there we have it! An exploration of our winter patterns, and a pretty formidable list of ways we can make the most of this winter season!  I’m sure you have your own winter survival secrets squirreled away, so share them with us, won’t you?

On to the next round of hot chocolates!


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