A New Englander’s Guide to Surviving Winter

Some people love snow and cold weather. They thrive on outdoor activities no matter the temperature. Some think winter is glorious for the December holidays but wish it would disappear by January 4. Others feel miserable from the second the temperature hits 30 degrees straight through until the leaves begin to bud on the trees in Spring.

No matter where you are on the spectrum, there are things we can all do to make the winter more pleasant.

We asked some locals for their best tips for maintaining their sanity and surviving a New England winter. We’ve put their ideas to the test and are sharing our favorite results.

1. Find a sunny spot

Find the sunniest spot in your house for morning sun and sit in it for 10 minutes each day. For us, that spot happens to be in our living room so we moved a table and chairs in front of the window and now eat breakfast there every morning. What a difference it makes to feel the warmth of the sun and get beneficial light on your retina. Even 10 minutes of morning sun on the weekend will make you feel better.

2. Create a summer music playlist

There’s nothing like the power of music to evoke memories. Choose music that reminds you of your favorite summer moments. It’s easy to do in New England, because no matter how old you are, the music you hear everywhere during the summer are tunes from the 60’s , 70’s and 80’s. Whether you’re at a corner store or buying fish at the market, it’s James Taylor, The Eagles, Motown, etc. Create a playlist that works for you and crank it up early and often. It makes you feel good. We love Apple Music (pro-tip- if you go into settings, you can sign-up for a year for a savings over the month-to-month cost).

3. Download and play nature soundtracks

All the windows and doors get slammed shut during the winter. Gone are the sounds of rustling leaves and chirping birds. When you put on a nature or bird song soundtrack, while doing otherwise mundane tasks, it feels like the windows are open and you feel lighter and happier. We’ve found bird songs are on Apple Music and Amazon.

4. Feed the birds

On frosty nights, birds need help maintaining their fat reserves and energy. Get a bird feeder and fill it with black oiled sunflower seeds, suet, or white millet seed. Squirrels will also show up but remember squirrels need love too. Plus, it does your heart good to help nature and the nature show is fun to watch.

5. Wear an indoor hat

Remember in A Christmas Carol where Scrooge dons a stocking cap at bedtime? Designating a soft wool, cotton or cashmere hat for indoor wear is a great way to feel cozy and warm inside. It’s oddly wonderful.

6. Plan summer vacation

It’s never too early to plan your New England summer vacation. There’s much to do and see, many beach houses to be rented, inns to visit, and camp grounds to reserve. Get started now because things book up quickly.

7. Buy houseplants

First of all, it’s fun going to the garden center in the middle of winter. You’re walking into a greenhouse to pick out plants – instant happiness. But more importantly, houseplants help filter the air quality in your home and help you feel better. You don’t even need a green thumb. Here’s a link to an article listing 10 houseplants that are almost impossible to kill.

8. Be productive

Winter is a wonderful time to explore art and history museums, enjoy local plays and lectures or take a class. Harvard University is offering over 100 free online classes this winter. It’s also a great time to take care of all that paperwork and organizing you don’t want to do when it’s nice out.

9. Visit a farmer’s market

There’s nothing more important than self-care during the winter and no better way to do it than with nourishing local food. We’re grateful to all the New England farmer’s who grow greenhouse lettuce and spinach and preserve glorious carrots, parsnips, squash and more. Plus, it’s great fun to try the locally made breads, wines, and specialty foods.

10. Move

It’s important to walk at least 30 minutes a day and keep that energy flowing. Aside from the usual outdoor sports and gym, Anali’s Next Amendment has a newsletter that updates you on Free Yoga classes being offered in Boston. There are also two popular videos you can watch from home:

The first is Yoga with Adriene, which is enjoyed far and wide and highly recommended by some of our contributors. The only caveat here is that it’s a tough workout if you’re older or have had any sort of injury. Watch it first and proceed with caution. A kinder, gentler workout if you’re older, feel out of shape, or have had injuries is Jane Fonda’s Fit & Strong workout. No matter what you choose, be sure to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Bonus Tip: Stay Hydrated

Drink water. During the summer, you move a lot and may walk around with a water bottle. During winter, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Break out the water bottle and make sure you’re staying hydrated all day long.

Have any more tips? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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