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  • Catherine Kirner, MS, LPC-IT

Fall into Winter: 3 Strategies for Surviving a Wisco Winter

Even though I’ve graced the Midwest for almost 25 years, my roots are still deep in the heart of Texas, as is my love of hot, humid temperatures. I embrace memories of wearing shorts on Christmas and having my mom perm my hair every three months just to give it life. While I wouldn't trade a summer here for a summer in Texas where we essentially lived in air conditioning all day, I find myself bracing every year for the inevitable Wisconsin winter that puts a chill in my bones until March when I can finally feel the warmth of the sun on my skin again. To prepare for those long months of winter, I transform my body and soul to survive those gray days that seemingly melt into one another. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful for me….

Focus on Your Well-being

As the days become shorter and drearier, I find it much easier to turn on the fireplace, reach for a blanket, and curl up with a book rather than covering myself from head to toe and convincing myself to go for a walk outside. As an alternative option, I am lucky enough to have a treadmill at home along with the ability to watch my latest Netflix obsession. I always feel better after a vigorous walk and finally figured out that walking first thing in the morning when I’m half-awake helps me to avoid talking myself out of it. When I’m feeling overly generous and stir crazy, I explore the outside with my lovably golden and killer shih Tzu. Their reward in kisses is well worth the effort.

To help warm my body temperature, I also consume large amounts of soup and hot tea. After I’ve bought chicken stock in bulk and pre-cut rotisserie chicken at Costco, I'm all set to go. Furthermore, after several winters of complaining during any outdoor soccer game or Holiday parade, I grew tired of hearing myself on repeat and I finally invested in a long Eddie Bauer down winter coat and Sorel winter boots. They were the best gift I ever gave myself.

Lastly, whenever I find myself up before dawn during winter, I always practice light therapy to help boost my energy. I purchased a portable lamp that sits in my bathroom cabinet and leave it on during my morning routine. Using the light along with an increase in my Vitamin D intake help prepare me for the day. (These are two recommended treatments for SAD, aka seasonal affective disorder, which you can read more about here).

Rethink Your Me-Time

While me-time is a necessity throughout the year, I find it important to change it up a bit to help invigorate my spirit in the winter. I have never been a green thumb and had all but given up on growing plants. BUT, last year I brought in my ferns prior to them being killed off by the frost and managed to keep them alive all winter. They simply prospered from weekly watering and being placed in a southern facing window. I hope to continue my luck this year. Secondly, I always have a Christmas puzzle in progress to ponder over during any down time I carve in or have available. I use platters and trays to sort out the pieces allowing for easy stacking and consolidation once I successfully put more pieces together.

Be Social…or Not

While I find it easier to become a hermit and hibernate when I’m cold, I also have found strength and warmth by hosting a yearly ornament exchange party. I deck my house with over 6 decorated Christmas trees and invite new and old friends of all ages to come together to laugh and get caught up with a friend or meet someone new. In the past, I’ve also organized a group of friends together to walk in the Run, Santa, Run! 5K where we gather before and get in the holiday spirit together. And finally, the best cure for my winter blues is to plan a trip to a warmer destination around January or February and take every opportunity to walk around and eat outside as possible. While my family prefers snow skiing, I’ll vote for down south every time.

Try out an idea I’ve shared or create your very own survival guide to the winter months. For even more strategies to ward off the wintertime woes, head over here.

Wishing you warmth,



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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]

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