Celebrate – Don’t Survive – Alaska’s Winter
Don’t let winter get you down. Here are my tried and true, top 10 tips for getting through the winter months like a champ.
1. Get outside – during the day.
Go outside for at least 15 to 30 minutes when the sun is up. It doesn’t even have to be sunny out. Getting outside during daylight hours lets your body register that it is day, and more day is coming. Getting outside tells your brain, “Hey it’s daytime. Wake up and get moving!”
2. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
I believe most of life’s problems can be solved with regular sleep. Our bodies love the regularity of a set bed time and a set wake up time. Don’t sleep too much! Yes, we feel like we want to hibernate. However, according to www.webmd.com, sleeping too much can be a sign of depression.
3. When you wake up in the morning, turn on all the lights and announce, “Daylight mode engaged!” like you’re on the Space Station.
You’re up and it’s morning. It doesn’t matter if it’s pitch black outside and the sun won’t be up for two hours. You are! Tell your brain it’s morning and it’s time to get jiggy with it!
4. At my house, we celebrate the winter solstice as the first day of summer because the sun is on its way back to us, and the days get longer and longer.
It’s a wonderful time of renewal and beginning. On the flip side, the summer solstice is the first day of winter because the days get shorter. However, it’s never a negative thing, because we have so much daylight!
5. Look for insects as a sign that spring is coming.
You know how dead bugs accumulate in the track of the windows or on the window sill? Two winters ago, we had an especially rotund fly dead in a window track. During a warmish, February thaw, when the temperature outside rose above freezing, guess who thawed out and was resurrected? Yep! Fat Fly starting buzzing and twitching in the morning, and by noon it was walking on the window! As the days get longer, look for other insects to make an appearance. Winter is officially over, and spring is here, when the first ponderous mosquitoes thaw out and start flying around, slow and low like A-10 attack aircraft.
Snuggling is so good for the soul. Snuggle your spouse, your kids, your pets, your friend, and your Teddy bear. Snuggle down in your blankie, in bed, on the couch, and at the movies. Snuggling is great for keeping warm as well!
7. Make summer plans.
Reserve your campsites for summer camping and fishing. Get the maps out and start thinking about that hike you want to take next summer. Start planning your hunting trip. Make charter reservations for halibut fishing.
8. Limit your commitments, but still get out where the people are.
Go to the zoo, to the museum, or out to the range to shoot. Fur Rondy’s coming. Go watch the dog races and do some people watching too. Don’t spend much time holed up and alone. We aren’t bears. We are humans and humans need to spend time around other humans.
9. Grow flowers inside.
Paper whites, crocus, amaryllis, tulips and daffodils can all be purchased locally or online. Put them in a pot, add water and soon you’ll have a living, green thing growing. In a month or so, you’ll have flowering plants, inside the house, before spring! If that’s too much, grow some grass in a clean cottage cheese container. Green growing things certainly lift the spirit in February and early March.
10. Stop trying to survive the winter and embrace it instead.
Celebrate, enjoy, and appreciate the beauty and wonder of our Alaskan winter. Notice the hoarfrost and how the ice crystals sparkle in the sunlight, and the moonlight. Be amazed with snow like a four-year-old seeing it for the first time. Remember, it won’t be cold forever. Chances are, that sometime in the warm, green parts of summer to come, you’ll stop and think about how beautiful the mountains are dressed in the pinks and purples of alpenglow.
Bonus tip: During your busy day, when you notice the sun is out and shining, pause, close your eyes, and point your nose into the sun. For just a minute, feel the sun on your face, bask in the warmth and light, and know summer is coming.
So that’s my list. I don’t think you’ll find a list quite like anywhere else. These tips have gotten me through 22 winters here in Alaska.