Children instinctively know what to do when they see snow falling. Their tongues pop out ready to catch a treasure. Sometimes I think adulthood steals our childhood moments in the most sneaky of ways until we don’t even realize these core parts of ourselves are gone. Why do adults clench their teeth instead of sticking out their tongues?
A few years ago, Ohioans were settling into November when I heard the familiar grumble that happens this time of year. People start their lamentations about winter coming and how terrible it will be. They almost will themselves into a winter depression before it’s even upon them. I realized these grumpy goats were convincing me to hate winter and it had been happening to me most of my life. I just believed that was how Ohioans were supposed to feel about the weather in their state and had been grumbling for years along with them.
Since time outside truly was the greatest medicine for me, I wanted to feel good in winter like the other seasons. I started to wonder if it was possible to enjoy so much time outside in the winter when all of Ohio seemed to believe differently.
So the challenge began and years later I have learned to love winter. My hours logged outside get longer each year, and I’m far happier because of it. I have also discovered kindred spirits who fight off the winter blues and find joy in the season right along with me. Here is the plan that has taught me to truly love winter.
Step One : Stop Complaining
Even if my I am late for work because I had to scrape ice off my car. I take captive of those negative thoughts and look for positives. When the power goes out from a storm, I enjoy more time reading a book.
If you expect it to feel like a day at the beach of course your are going to be angry about the winter. Give yourself a chance to find joy in the season and start looking for new excitement that won’t happen in any other season.
Step Two : Don’t waste the Sun
I started paying attention to the most sunny days. I even use the hourly feature on the weather app to determine the moments of the day with the most sun. These are the times I refuse to miss outdoors. Bundled up with my fur hood, my face peeks out and I soak in those rays. With snow on the ground the sun reflects all around me. I swear I can get a tan and I love that much needed dose of Vitamin D to help my mental health.
On the days I have to work, I at least take a lap around the school building before I eat my lunch. Sometimes I will just pause inside and let the sun stream through the window. That is one minute of life that isn’t wasted. It’s like a cat who curls up in a sunny spot on the rug. I just stand there, take a deep breath and the sun shining makes me smile. In recent years I’ve graduated to reading outside in the winter. If the sun is bright, I bundle up, bring a blanket and I sit for at least an hour if not more reading. I am not cold and I feel amazing after the sun has touched me. I’ve also gotten really good at turning the pages with gloves on!
Step Three : Play
This is where I come back to the lessons we learn from children. It’s why they enjoy the winter. Children know how to appreciate the special kind of play that only happens in winter. Skiing is a more expensive version of play in the winter, but walking in the snow covered woods at a local park is free. In my opinion winter walks are the most beautiful of all the seasons.
Sledding and ice skating are regular favorites of ours too. The neighbors all come to my hill after a big snow storm and we have a sledding party. My parent’s lake is a favorite skating spot with my husband. We glide and turn among the trees and soaking in the winter wonderland.
Step Four : Buy the right gear
I have written about investing in warm clothing so many times before but I say it again because it really makes all the difference. It always confuses me when I see people wearing flats or even sneakers in the snow. No wonder they are depressed in the winter. Their feet are wet and freezing.
We invest in good waterproof boots with a good lining. Jonathan, my penny saving husband, finally let me buy him two pairs of quality boots this year and it’s made all the difference. I also expect to wear my coat everyday for months. I wear real snow pants to keep our play going for hours, and I only buy gloves with thick layers to keep away moisture. This can seem expensive, but you don’t have to go to a sporting goods store to stay warm in winter. Walmart has good options if you aren’t picky. Sierra Trading Post is also a good resource for quality brands at discounted prices.
If you want to join me in a life where winter can truly be a joy I have more for you. Read our Hygge story and discover the practices we have learned from the treasured Scandinavians.
A favorite book that changed my life and took my outside winter goals to the next level is There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda McGurk.
1000 Hours Outside is also an inspiring group with lots of free resources for families.
You can follow me on Instagram @GreenGurneys or like our Green Gurneys Facebook page to see all our winter adventures. Share this with others who need to find joy in winter. Together we can change the complaining narrative to one of celebration.