Seven Steps to Surviving Winter

For as long as I can remember, I have dreaded the coming of winter. Big time.

I’m usually fine leading up to Christmas, but once the joy and excitement of Christmas is over, and the harsh and dullness of winter begins to set in…it’s a struggle.

When the snow starts falling, I start complaining. Whether it’s to my family, friends, co-workers, or by posting witty (i.e. smart-aleck) status updates on Facebook.

A couple of years ago there was the Polar Vortex.

Then came the Polar Vortex: Part 2.

Followed by Polar Vortex Part 3: Revenge of the Polar Vortex.

And with each snowstorm and each passing day of winter, we can tend to become increasingly depressed and grouchy.

Well, I’ve officially had enough of it.

Not of winter or snow. There’s not much I or anyone else can do about that. But I’ve had enough of my negative attitude about the season.

Starting this year I’ve decided that I’ve been miserable for three months out of a year for far too long. Starting this year, the complaining is over!

But hold on, it’s reality check time.

I fully realize I’m not going to suddenly love “all things winter”, joyfully running down a snowy street singing its praises. Plus, there is the risk of frostbite doing that. So, you may be thinking, “Ok Alan, what are you going to do then?”

Well…

  • First, I am going to stop complaining about it.
  • Second, I’m going to start being positive about.
  • Third, I’m going to find things to actually like about it.
  • Fourth, when steps one through three don’t work, I am going to rely heavily on gratitude. And repeat the steps.

God has given each one of us so many blessings.

To be alive.

To love the handful of people who cross our path each day.

To give of ourselves and accept help from others.

To try our hardest to do our best for God.

To enjoy the simple things.

And we can experience all of these blessings not just when it’s sunny and drinking lemonade. We can also experience all of these blessings, even during the coldest days of winter.

And when you think about it, God gives us so much to be grateful for during the winter months.

Winter is a time to be cozy and reflective. It’s a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. Whether it be Christmas, New Year’s, or just a quiet evening at home by the fire.

But perhaps it’s the stillness of winter that is hardest for some people. Winter can make a lot of people feel stagnant and dull.

But by asking God to help us adapt and even thrive during these times of stillness, we’re actually given a lot of possibilities. Things like enjoyment, happy memories and gratitude.

This winter I am inviting all people who share my dislike for winter to adopt some new habits that I believe will help ward off the gloom.

# 1 – Prayer

Our lives mostly depend on the kind of thoughts we nurture. If our thoughts are peaceful, calm and kind, then our life will normally be as such. If we are negative and unkind in our thoughts, our peace is out the window. Essentially, our inner self, our peace or disruption of it, is based on the kinds of thoughts and desires we breed from within.

And if we’re wallowing in self-pity, or constantly being negative about the winter months, then our lives will reflect that negativity. And the best way to stop that from happening is prayer.

Take five or so minutes every morning to spend quiet time in reflective prayer. During this time, think about and tell God just how much you have to be grateful for. Think about the positive aspects of your life.

If you draw a blank, that’s ok too. Just pray to God to inspire you during these five minutes. Afterwards, observe the change in how you feel. This daily meditation can help keep you happy and positive all day. This will also help to restore your energy, especially when winter can cause us to feel sluggish and lazy. And don’t stop at five minutes. Pray throughout your day. It will absolutely change your perspective.

# 2 – Stay Healthy

Being sick will certainly help to cause a dislike for winter. Whether it’s catching a cold, having a constant dry, sore throat, or feeling like your skin resembles that of a reptile. Eat fresh fruits and green vegetables, which will boost your immunity. Take vitamin C daily. Put a humidifier in your bedroom at night, so your skin doesn’t dry out. Buy a beanie hat to wear when you’re outside. Yes, you’ll look goofy, but so does everyone else during the winter.

# 3 – Eat Healthy

I’ve always noticed that during the winter, as my mood goes down, my weight goes up. A lot of that is written off as Thanksgiving and Christmas overindulging, but it can also contribute to negative moods.

What we eat has a great effect on our mood and energy levels. It’s best to avoid refined and processed foods (like white breads, rice, and sugar). These foods are known to zap your energy levels and can affect your mood—causing depression, lack of concentration, and mood swings. Try to incorporate more healthy choices, like fruits and vegetables into your winter diet, and drink plenty of water. And everyone these days is claiming how healthy coffee is. So, drink up.

# 4 – Exercise

Exercise isn’t just for maintaining your weight and staying healthy. It’s great for relieving the stresses of life. And it’s great for getting through winter. You’ll have more energy throughout the day, and exercise also helps to improve your mood.

# 5 – Give Back

Instead of sitting around all winter waiting for spring, give of yourself. There is always someone, or some cause that needs our help. And the more we give of ourselves, the less we drown in self-pity and sadness. And when we give of ourselves, we’re also honoring God.

# 6 – Take Up a Project

There’s no time like winter to get involved in hobbies or by starting a home project. Last winter I spent a lot of time de-cluttering my house, which left me with a feeling of peace. But if you’re not into purging, how about painting? Either on a canvas, or your house walls. Not only will it look great, but it will also help distract you from having the winter blues, and you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment that is often desperately needed during the winter months.

# 7 – Be Grateful

When winter gets us down, it’s often because we feel confined and gloomy. We become increasingly tired of the cold weather. The walk from our cars to our homes or to work seems increasingly biting cold.

But perhaps we should stop to consider those less fortunate. For most of us, once we arrive home, or at work, we quickly regain our warmth and comfort. But some people do not. Some people reside and sleep in the cold. Whether it’s from being homeless, or from not having enough money to properly heat their homes.

How can we then complain about a cold walk from here to there?

Let us be thankful to God for everything, including winter. Being grateful for what God has given you will always help to improve your perspective on things.

I certainly didn’t invent these seven steps, but I have been researching them. And I plan to start implementing them this winter.

And I’m hoping (and praying) that this time next year, I can truly say, winter isn’t so bad after all.

Alan Scott

By

Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog GrowInVirtue.com, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Debbie

    This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning! My winter funk is already starting here in Michigan, and this year I’m vowing to fight it. These strategies will certainly help. Thank you!

  • CDville

    One more strategy along with the diet and exercise is to use full-spectrum lights—quality artificial light to help make up for the deficiency of the winter sun. Or move to Texas;-) But yes, being thankful in all circumstances is the key.

MENU