“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
Anyone who lives in the Midwest or who has ever traveled to the northern quarters of the country, know for a fact that winter in Minnesota can be brutal. It is often a test of endurance, patience, humor, semi-hibernation and mental strength to survive it especially when it happens to be a winter like we are having this year. Countless days well below zero, dangerously cold, bone-chilling wind. Snow. Black ice on the roads. Days upon end where it never even reaches freezing. This has been one heck of a winter so far and it isn’t even half way over.
So how on earth do we survive it? With skill, perseverance and conquering the power of the mind. That is how. Here are my top ten tips to surviving an extreme winter (Warning: Over 20 degrees farenheit for a low doesn’t count. We’re talking endless days below zero!).
1. Embrace it. What could be better than sleeping under all those warm blankets on a cold winter’s night? Or sitting by the fire after a day of outdoor activities sipping hot coco with the kids? Winter can be a good time to catch up on all those projects that get put behind in the summer when you never want to be stuck inside the house.
2. Get outside. Take a walk, shovel, go for a run, play in the snow or build a snowman. Whenever it is possible, get outside and soak in some luscious vitamin D! We need it!
3. Get a bright lamp. Seriously we get awfully deprived of sunshine here with the short, dark days of winter. On amazon, I purchased a “sun light” (also known as a “seasonal affective disorder” light) that I put on in the morning for 15 to 20 minutes and it seems to do the trick. I use it from December until February.
4. Find new indoor hobbies and passions that you wouldn’t normally do. Last winter I took Spanish classes and this winter I finally took up the practice of yoga, something I’ve wanted to do for years but never got around to until a brutal winter pushed me over the edge. I’ve made my indoor time useful by reading more, organizing two years of family photos into albums, and learning how to cook new meals. I’ve also been playing more board games with the kids and making crafts.
5. Enjoy the abundant outdoor sports. Embrace the snow! I grew up skiing and we started our children young. Our kids are taking ski lessons so every Saturday we are up and out the door early, hitting the slopes (we do actually have ski areas here in Minnesota. This is where Olympian Lindsey Vonn got here start!). Minnesota is also great for ice skiing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and ice fishing.
6. Enjoy the multitude of culture in our dynamic city. It may be cold, but Minneapolis-St. Paul, otherwise known as the Twin Cities, has a vibrant, cultural scene. We have more outstanding restaurants than I could possibly eat at, theater, arts, music and museums. Plus we have the Mall of America (well not my most favorite place but the kids do like the indoor amusement park and if you like to shop, you can spend hours at this place).
7. Every now and then splurge: Get a pedicure, a massage or take a bubble bath. Even a nap under the covers or reading a book in bed during the day is a wonderful treat on a cold winter’s day.
8. Marvel at the beautiful new snowfalls, take lots of pictures and don’t gripe about the roads. If all possible, make sure you have a Four-wheel or all-wheel drive car. Otherwise take the bus!
9. Have all the appropriate cold weather clothing available. An extremely warm jacket with a hood is a must. A warm hat, gloves, long-johns, waterproof boots, and of course a balaclava often comes in handy to protect against skin freezing wind chills.
10. If possible, plan an escape preferably someplace warm. I am fortunate to plan several getaways some just a weekend and others a little longer. Last year, I spent a week in January volunteering in Honduras.
Last but not least….have fun. Embrace. Enjoy. Marvel at the change in the seasons and remember: No hurricanes, earthquakes, scorpions, mudslides or unruly traffic jams here. Only the diehards live and stay in Minnesota. When I need more convincing, I remember to be grateful. Minnesota is a beautiful state with an amazing quality of life and a wonderful place to plant your seeds and raise a family. Yes, our winters are long. But thankfully there is always Spring.