Winter survival

Winters in the midatlantic are the bane of my existence.  There are few things more miserable to me than a 3 month stretch of 40° and rainy.  Except for the few times we actually get snow, and I’ve got to dig my car out and navigate streets through a city whose approach to winter road maintenance is “snow:  it’ll melt.  Eventually.”  But the weather is just the salt in the wound created by the darkness, all the time.  Dark when I get up.  Dark when I leave.  Dark when I get home.  When spring finally rolls around, I feel a veil lift from me that I hadn’t realized had been there.  I feel like a new person.

Do you suffer from self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder?  What strategies do you have to manage?  Here are a few of mine:

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”  Well, I don’t exactly agree with this.  Of course there is such a thing as bad weather.  But appropriate clothing certainly helps.  I live in the city and take transit/walk to work, so being prepared for the elements is key.
First, look to the Canadians:  I have a pair of Blondo boots that are completely waterproof, salt proof, super warm…and yet work-appropriate and stylish.  Not cheap, but so worth it.  I wear them all the time on rainy, nasty winter days. La Canadienne is another brand of stylish winter boots, but I think they’re even more expensive.
I also recommend down.  My down puffy coat may look a little…puffy, but it is nearly impervious to cold once I have it on a few minutes.  I love it.  Finally, I believe that if I am going to spend money on clothing, it should be multifunctional.  I should be able to climb Everest in the morning and show up at work in the afternoon wearing the same outfit.  Okay, maybe not, but you get the idea.  One item I have that I love is this dress from Nau (this one, maybe?) that is just the perfectly normal little black dress — you can wear it out or office it up with a cardigan and belt — but it’s made with wicking, quick-dry fabric so it’s the first thing I grab out of my closet on rainy days.  Retailers like Nau and Patagonia are expensive but if you catch their sales (I never pay full price) they are about the same as non-outdoorsy stores.

Get sunshine when you can.  I always have to force myself away from my desk in the afternoon, but I am always glad I do, even when it’s freezing.  Being outside, in the sunshine just really lifts my mood.  Most of the year, I am a major stickler for sunscreen, but in the winter, I use a moisturizer with no SPF.  You want to get as much vitamin D as possible, and often my face is the only skin exposed to the light!

Don’t neglect yourself.  It’s easy to lock yourself indoors with an endless mug of hot chocolate and rich, decadent food in the winter — but take care of yourself.  You will really feel so much better.

At the end of the day, though, no matter what I do, I’m still pretty much a miserable, short-tempered mess all winter and the only real cure for me is spring.  Do you have any recommendations?  Do you use a light box or other device?  Take up winter sports?  Or some secret miracle drug?  Share your ideas!

-R

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