Do You Hibernate in Winter?

groundhogWere you too busy watching Super Bowl commercials on Sunday to notice that Punxsutawney Phil had emerged from his burrow this year? He saw his shadow and went back in to hibernate, predicting that the blistery winter weather much of the country has been experiencing will last for another 6 weeks. You may not be as interested in Groundhog Day as I am – full disclosure, February 2 is also my birthday so I’ve followed the tradition for years.

For many of us, winter weather does seem to drag on longer than we’d like. And being stuck at home in February doesn’t usually lend itself to the same kind of staycation you’d take in the summer. So here are 4 tips to help you cope during the next six weeks.

Exercise inside. When it’s really too cold or rainy to go outside, make it a point to get to the gym. To add some variety to your workout, get trained in equipment you’ve bypassed other times – large balls, stationary bike, weights, figure eight bands. Or if you’d rather stay home, roll out your yoga mat, practice your poses and enjoy the serenity of being alone. Put on some of ‘your’ music and dance as if no one is watching – because they’re not.

Restore the outdoor child in you. Remember the fun of playing in the snow when you were a kid? If you’re not in the middle of a Polar Vortex, put on warm boots and tramp around now, knowing that you can come inside for hot chocolate whenever you want. Remember how to make angels in the snow? Go for it. Or make a snowman with your kids – after you’ve had a tame snowball fight. Go ice-skating on that pond in the park. After a rainstorm, get your galoshes and splash in the puddles. Remember, being outside in the daylight stimulates serotonin production, improving your mood.

Do something fun at home. Make time to do something enjoyable that you’ve been putting off. Go through photos from your last trip and pick ones for a book – virtual or real. Let your creative juices flow and write a poem, pick up your instrument and practice a piece, or draw a picture. Cook up some hearty soups or stews and freeze the extra portions. Read – pull out that list of 100 books you’ve been meaning to attack and start one of the classics. You have time to catch up on old movies or surf the Internet. 

Connect with family and friends. Remember how you wanted to respond to those family holiday cards and letters? Now you have time to write a nice note to your first cousin twice removed about her daughter’s recent wedding. Or give your brother across the country a call and talk about old times. Text your grandchildren who may be out of school for a ‘snow day.’ If your friends can come over, try out some new board games or bring out the old ones. Email those classmates you reconnected with at your reunion last year.

You can use these remaining winter weeks to your advantage by focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t. And remember that while spring may not be just around the corner, it will be here eventually. And as Saint-Exupery and The Little Prince remind us:

To become spring means accepting the risk of winter.

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