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Staying Sane (and Productive) in the New England Winter

This is the New England winter in a nutshell, courtesy of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day:


We're approaching that part of the season when it really does feel like winter is all you will ever know. The New England winter is soooo long. You can expect everyone to start talking about and anticipating spring around mid-March, but the spring-like weather won't actually show up until May. It is not uncommon to have snow in April. So if you're thinking of moving here from a warmer location: you've been warned.

That being said, there are a lot of healthy ways to cope with the winter and you certainly do not have to love the cold to love New England. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that I have found effective for chasing away those winter blues:

1. Embrace the beauty and necessity of winter.

Every year I have to prepare myself mentally for the winter ahead. Accept the fact that it's going to be very long and very cold. Now look for the beauty in the season. Winter can be very restful and peaceful. Things slow down. Take a cue from nature to slow down yourself and observe how the light and the landscape changes in winter.

2. Take in lots of hot beverages and warming soups.

I drink a lot of herbal tea in the winter. It's soothing and comforting and I believe in the healing properties of the herbs. I also enjoy a cup of my homemade hot chocolate most evenings. The kind I make is dark and not too sweet and full of antioxidants from the raw cacao powder (or at least that's what I'm telling myself). It's a delicious indulgence suited only for winter. Soup is a great way to get your veggies. It is easy to make and has infinite possibilities.

3. Use music to focus and lift the mood.

Obviously this is good for any time of the year, but I find it especially important in the winter when the whole world seems to be waiting, holding its breath. You want to crawl under the covers with a good book or movie, but you've got work to do. Playing some cheerful and bright classical music helps me focus and stay on task.

4. Don't forget to exercise!!

Exercise is harder to do in the winter but all the more important. The science is overwhelming: exercise has been shown to benefit almost every aspect of your life, giving you better sleep, a stronger immune system, and increased brain function. I strive for some kind of exercise every day, usually in the form of a workout video on YouTube. There is much wisdom in the maxim: Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

5. Find an enjoyable inside hobby.

We spend a lot more time indoors in the winter. Sure, you could sit and stare at your phone or read a good book, but I find it better to challenge myself and try something new. The novelty will benefit you when the world outside is one vast expanse of grey and brown. Think of a skill you'd like to learn or a craft you might like to try. Maybe it's juggling, or doing a headstand, or knitting, or origami, or anything else. The possibilities are endless and the internet places all the resources you need right at your fingertips. Guaranteed there's a blog or a YouTube channel out there for anything you could think of.

So there you have it - some of my best tips for staying sane and even productive during the long winter months. It doesn't sound so bad now, does it? Just don't ask me about it at the end of March - it's likely I'll feel differently.  

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