If you’re one of the 10 million Americans or 30% of British who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, you’ll be happy to know that this week Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, so spring is expected early this year. That is, as long as you trust meteorological predictions from a furry rodent the size of an overweight cat. If, by chance, you are skeptical of weather prediction based on old European folkloric traditions, perhaps some reminders of what can be done to enjoy the second half of winter may prove helpful. This week let’s focus on ways to enjoy the outdoors since getting outside can be a great mood booster and help fight the winter blues (a.k.a. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD-it’s a thing, it’s not just you).
Step one: bundle up! If you think it’s too cold to go outside, add a layer or two, keep your head, fingers and feet particularly well insulated and get your heart rate up. Maybe you like to get into the mountains on the weekends to snowboard, ski or snowshoe. On a more daily basis though, go for a walk or hike near your home. When was the last time you went ice skating, rollerblading (we don’t all get buried in snow for 3 straight months) or played hockey? You may have a snow thrower, but do you have a shovel you could break out for a little endorphin-raising exercise?
Do you have a knack for building snow forts, snow people (why do we still call them all snowmen in the 21st century?) or instigating a snowball fight? Do you enjoy looking for icicles, tiny buds starting to grow on the trees, or taking photos of a wintery wonderscape? My 2 year old can’t get enough of eating snow (we’re working on sticking to only the freshly fallen kind). Plenty of kids love to make snow angels, “fairies” as we call them in our household. And who doesn’t still enjoy a good sledding run? With ski resorts now offering sledding hills, clearly it is not just for kids.
While living in Denver (where it can range from -5 to 65 degrees Farenheit on any given day in winter), I often felt it was too cold to walk my dog or spend much time with my class of preschoolers outdoors. As my husband and I contemplated moving to the northern midwest, I was really nervous about potentially having a baby in winter. How do I keep a baby warm enough there? How do/can I still get outside and exercise? Nevermind SAD, I get depressed any time of year if I don’t get regular, frequent exercise and plenty of time outside. But people do it, so obviously it’s possible. So I began to seek advice.
So…as soon as we moved, I went to a local consignment store and bought a few newborn buntings –different weights and insulation levels– just to be safe. Well, my baby was born in December. After her first week at home, I started testing out all those warm baby clothes. Now I layer up, strap the baby to my chest and together, along with my older daughter and dog, we get outside for a walk or hike almost daily and everyone stays comfortable –minus the occasional breeze or lost boot. The key: warm layers and movement.
So carve out some time to get outside each day and if you happen to see a little crocus popping up through the frozen ground, let it stand as a happy reminder that spring is just around the corner.