- Mental Health
The Top Four Ways to Survive the Cold and Beat the Winter Blues
The Dead of Winter
Around this time of year, a lot people living in cold climates start to grow tired of the brutal winter months. The white, clean snow that made your holiday season seem magical now looks cold and dirty. The dead of winter can cause winter blues and cabin fever in many people. It is to cold outside to do many of your favorite outdoor activities and daylight seems to be in a limited supply. Below are the top 4 ways to survive the cold, brutal months of winter.
#1 Create an Indoor Garden
One thing that many people miss during winter months is seeing green outdoors. When you look out your window and only see trees and plants without leaves, it can be a mood killer. An indoor garden can breathe life into your home. It is like your own personal haven from the elements outside.
To create your own secret garden, determine a corner of a room that has decent sunlight. If you don’t have the space, a portion of a kitchen counter will do too. Visit your local green house and go nuts! I recommend buying as many colorful flowers and plants as possible to have the full effect of springtime. If your local green house has slim or pricey pickings, I recommend checking out Ikea or Trader Joe's. Both store have great plant sections that are reasonably priced and last a long time. Ikea also has inexpensive planting pots as well.
After you arrange your plants in your own secret garden, clean off a lawn chair from outside to put in your indoor garden and position a space heater next to it. Burning a spring or floral scented calendar will also add to the ambiance. Just make sure to set a weekly timer on your phone as a reminder to water your plants!
Some of the plants I recommend include:
- Money Plants
- Fiddle leaf fig trees
- Paddle plants
#2 Exercise to Boost Your Mood
A decrease in physical activity during the cold months can lead to feeling of sluggishness, weight gain, and will negatively impact your mood. Exercise is an ultimate mood booster because it stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel happy. Exercise has also been proven to increase your energy level because your body is working more efficiently.
The winter months is a great time to try a new outdoor activity. A lot of ski hills have discounted ticket days with discount rentals and lessons for first time boarders and skiers. Most iceskating rinks also rent skates for a reasonable price. Going on a nature hike outside at a local park is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise as well.
If just the idea of exercising outdoors during the winter makes your toes go numb, there are plenty of indoor activities to try out. Indoor rollerskating rinks and rock climbing gyms are both super fun activities for any age that keep you active and warm. You can also join an indoor sports team. Indoor soccer and basketball teams are both super popular sports to participate in during the winter or all year round.
Joining a gym is during the winter months is one of the best ways to guarantee you stay in shape during the winter. Many gyms during this time of year offer membership specials and allow you to try out the facility for a day for free. Check with your work if they offer discount gym memberships or if your local community center has a gym.
#3 Visit a Local Botanical Garden
If a vacation to a warm tropical vacation isn’t in your budget this year and you want to feel the 80 degree humid heat, visit your local botanical garden. Stepping inside an indoor botanical garden will literally make you feel like you stepped off a plane in Costa Rica. When the watering misters turn on you seriously get the full effect.
Many communities have local indoor botanical gardens with free admission or for a suggested donation. You can also buy an annual membership for a reasonable fee to have access to special events and exhibits. If you are also a botany enthusiast, check to see if the botanical garden has docent or volunteer opportunities. That way you can spend every Saturday for free for the rest of winter in a tropical oasis.
Here is a list of some of the best Indoor Botanical Gardens and Locations:
- Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison
- Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh
- Eden Project, Cornwall, England
- Montreal Botanical Garden, Quebec
- Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
- Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago
- The New York Botanical Garden, New York City
- United States Botanic Garden Washington, DC
#4 Throw an Indoor BBQ, Beach Party, or Camp Inside
A great way to make it feel like summer in the dead of winter is to pretend it is by throwing an indoor BBQ or beach party. We often times haven an emotional response to certain smells. A very specific smell can trigger nostalgic memories. Seasonal activities and traditions we participate in and special foods we eat during that time can trigger memories and feelings associated with that event or season. For example, eating pumpkin pie reminds me of fall because I associate pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving and drinking hot chocolate reminds me of winter because I drank it after playing in the snow as a kid. Using smells associated with spring and summer during the winter months can trigger emotional memories and feelings you have about warmer seasons.
Having your friends over for tropical drinks and lighting ocean scented candles may trigger memories of a fun beach vacation. If you want to take it a step further, you can even make an indoor sandbox so you can feel sand between your toes! If this idea seems to extreme having friends over for BBQ and picnic fare is also a great idea. If you have the space, set up some indoor games inside like ladder golf or bean bag toss. The best part of an indoor BBQ is you don’t have to worry about ants and mosquitoes! Another great idea, especially if you have kids, is to camp in your living room. Pitch your outdoor tent inside and make microwavable s'mores.
Other Tips To Beat the Winter Blues
Take A Multivitamin
A main concern during the winter months is vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is very common among people living in colder areas because of limited sunlight exposure. Vitamin D is found naturally in certain types of fish and egg yolks and is fortified in milk and grain products. If you don’t drink milk, are a vegan, and live in a colder climate, you may be at a greater risk.
Buy a Light Therapy Lamp
Using a light therapy lamp is a great way to fight the winter blues. A light therapy lamp mimics outdoor light and you can control the light intensity level. Light therapy lamps have been proven to be an effective tool for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. When buying a light therapy lamp, you should make sure to pick one that omits the least amount of UV light possible.
- Socializing with friends and exercising daily can help boost your mood during cold months
- Be open to trying new activities to avoid cabin fever
- Certain smells and foods can trigger positive memories and feelings associated with summer
- Make your home your own summer oasis by creating an indoor garden, using scented candles, and eating summer themed foods
Do you get cabin fever during the winter months?
© 2015 Mary Ellen Block