Midwest winters are not for the faint of heart—especially in “Minnesnowta” where a foot of snow can fall one day, and the wind chill temps can rival Antarctica the next. Getting through the cold and dark season, which usually feels like it spans half the year from October to April rather than its allotted three months on the calendar, can be difficult! Hibernating at home in cozy blankets while binge-watching Netflix is fun for the first few months, but by the time February rolls around and all the holiday luster has officially worn off, it can start feeling claustrophobic and downright dreadful. The good news is that spring is only a couple months away, but the bad news is that spring is still a couple of months away.
So, what is a Minnesotan to do if the stir-crazy feeling sets in and there’s no end in sight yet to the winter blues? Taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally is just as important as staying physically healthy. Mental, emotional, and physical health are all interconnected and if one of those components is out of balance, it can throw everything off-kilter. Here are some tips to use this time to reconnect with all the facets of wellbeing and pave the way for growth.
Let Go Of Unnecessary Stressors
When it’s cold and dark out and you have nothing but time on your hands, you can end up getting lost in your thoughts and overthink the little things. You cannot change the past or predict the future, but you can control your actions and reactions in the now. If you’re feeling especially stressed about the lack of control in your life currently, reframe the chaos into two different categories: “Things I Can” and “Things I Can’t”. Make a list of the things you can do and another list of the things you can’t do—write them down on a piece of paper if that makes it easier to visualize. Untangling the stressors in your life and giving yourself permission to ignore the ones that cannot be changed allows you more mental space to deal with the ones you can.
Let Yourself be a Kid Again
When you are at home for long periods of time and feeling down or creatively depleted, give yourself some time to rekindle the activities you enjoyed when you were young. Do a puzzle, watch Disney movies, color without caring about the lines, or dance around to your favorite music. Forgetting about your “adult responsibilities” and “productivity” even for a short moment can help you reconnect with the purest form of joy: the kind you felt as a kid. Don’t hold yourself back from seeking moments of joy every day.
Practice Gratitude Whenever You Can
Think of one thing you’re grateful for when you wake up, and another thing before you go to sleep. Starting and ending your day thinking about the good things in your life sets the mood for the entire day and can improve your overall outlook. The more you find things to be grateful for, the more you realize how it’s the little things in life that really matter.
Think of Ways in Which You Can Help Your Community and Those Around You
After regularly practicing gratitude, chances are you will start to notice just how blessed you are and how much you are able to give back to those in need. Are you able to donate to your local food bank or help run errands for a neighbor? Are you able to donate blood or devote some time to calling or Facetiming your family who might be lonely? Every little bit of kindness adds up.
Learn Something New Every Day
Is there a skill you have always wanted to learn? Now is the time to do it! Learning something new or changing even one small habit can help give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. Once the spring thaw comes, you’ll be able to enter into the new season of growth with personal growth of your own!
Hopefully these tips will help brighten the rest of your winter and keep your spirits warm until spring!