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Kat’s 10 Ways to Survive Winter

Winter is here again! Is this becoming a yearly tradition of coming up with ways to beat S.A.D.? See previous years here and here.

Usually when I think of “surviving winter” I’m thinking of the physical aspects of hunkering down in the wild: storing and preserving food to eat throughout the cold months; warm clothing and blankets; fortifying the shelter with a strong door, a non-leaky roof, plugging where the wind or snow might come; chopping wood to keep the fire lit; sleeping more and doing quiet activities. There’s some kind of preparation to the changing of the season, and I find that for me these modern times have shifted to a more mental fortification.

A couple of my friends have fled to Mexico for an entire month during the coldest time of the year. They are brilliant, and I wish I thought of that first. For those of us who need to push on through…

Here is my Winter Survival Plan 2024 Edition:

#1 Light Therapy Lamp

This scientifically backed solution seemed like an easy thing for me to try, and right off the bat I want to say it was immediately effective for me. I chose this Daybright Light Therapy Lamp after a ton of consumer research. It’s quite a bit more expensive than others, and I think that’s because it’s an attractive design made with quality materials in addition to being highly functional. It’s worth every penny to me because it’s beautiful enough to leave out all the time instead of looking like a gadget/clinical device, and that encourages me to use it instead of wanting to hide it away or feel ashamed of my treatment. I feel so hopeful and grateful when I see it on my nightstand.

Jer and I invested in one big enough with 10,000 lumens to simulate actual sunlight; it does its job well! I have control over the levels, color, settings, and don’t have to worry about the stand cracking or breaking. It’s right by my bed, and easy to control using the remote so that I use it to help me “power up” for my day. Think of charging a human being, that’s what this light does for me!

#2 Banish my phone at Bedtime

For good sleep. I easily become a Winter Night Owl cranky during the day unable to sleep. This is an issue for me ruminating at night about things to do, things I should put on my reminders list, problems to solve, ways I’m trying to be productive—and I fall into a black hole of “there goes 2 hours!”. I sleep much better when the phone is not right by my bed.

#3 Feast Upon the Words of Christ

I’m reading the Book of Mormon this year with my husband, and I’m so excited because I love how I feel and what I learn. We even got special “journal editions” with space in the margins to write down our personal questions and the revelation that comes to us. There is a promise that if we will “feast upon the words of Christ,” they “will tell [us] all things [we] should do” (2 Nephi 32:3) and that we will be empowered to overcome the “fiery darts of the adversary” (1 Nephi 15:24). Specifically, I’m looking for strength in my mental health journey, searching for answers about joy and happiness. I’ve been noticing and underlining the references that speak to me about what will help me experience more joy and “nourishment”. There is so much I am responsible for, and I need that Heavenly guidance and spiritual uplift to see me through my calling, motherhood, job, and relationships.

#4 Gentle Activity

This summer was some pretty intense running and training, and I kept up with doing a 5K twice a week through the fall but going into winter I feel like my body’s natural inclination is a need for rest. Or just something not so intense. I’m assured by the idea that many plants go dormant, many animals hibernate or gain weight, and many aspects of life slow down so this is completely natural.

Walks in the snow with my dog, Quiet mornings doing Yoga, dancing, shoveling snow, maybe working up to a Winter Run every once in a while.

#5 “3 Things I’m Grateful For” List

How can I cultivate a more positive mindset? My hope is that through daily practice of this mental exercise in reflection and sincerity, my Gratitude Muscles will be so strong that even in the face of “Epic Levels of Crap on a Marathon-Long Month” I will persevere and endure. My hope is that by the time Spring comes, I will read through the list of previous days and ultimately be grateful for the Winter in my life—and not just that it’s over. It’s amazing to me how others show up for me and affect me positively, and that God is sending tender mercies daily.

#6 Make My Room A Sanctuary

I upped my game and learned how to make a bed! The fancy way, with layers for winter with coverlets and quilts, and tucks, and inverted flat sheets… and let me tell you, I feel so cozy and like I’m at a hotel! It’s helped me to not mind too much that I don’t have a headboard. It’s been such an inviting spot for a “sit-a-spell-and-read”. Getting better sleep and being in a place that feels peaceful and relaxed will hopefully improve my everyday life.

#7 Spring Break Plans

“The three grand essentials of happiness are: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.”

Alexander Chalmers

A trip to look forward to is certainly something that I hope for! We want to go to Arizona and see some Saguaro cacti! Hopefully it will be warm, adventurous because we’d need to go on a roadtrip or maybe even camp, and an unforgettable new experience with our sweet kiddos. Planning for this trip like where we will stay, what we will do, and what we will eat is so exciting for me.

#8 Surround Myself with Empowerment & Positivity

The idea is that surrounding myself with the voices and presence of who I want to be like and what I want to experience will help me focus on it, because hopefully I can attract that same kind of positive energy in myself. Lately I’ve been inspired when doing chores by the encouragement of people like Clutterbug and Joshua Becker, and people who have great ideas about being more efficient or simple. Driving through winter landscapes in traffic on the way to school is not so bad when I’m listening to Hawaiian music that puts a smile on my heart and helps me to visualize being warm. My reading list has been on the more adventurous side with some strong (often magical) women. The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Tress of the Emerald Sea. Stardust. Stories about “I Can Do It!” or “They totally did it!” My kids are little rays of sunshine for me.

#9 Say No

Giving myself permission to email a client and say I’m taking tomorrow off and not reading emails after 4pm. Cancel meetings and visits because I’m literally getting sick and don’t want to admit it. Remembering that I can do anything but not everything. Stop myself from doing too much so that I can do at least some every day consistently. Jer has helped me so much to try to find my threshold and to do chores or pick up a meal when I’m existing on fumes.

#10 Roxy

This list needs to be rounded off somehow! I am relying a lot on the love and encouragement of my sweet dog this time of year. Her little face helps me to get my snow boots on in a snow storm. Her bouncing happily while walking in the cold helps me hang in there for her. I force myself to get up and literally open the door to the cold so she can go potty. I can get cozy and forgive myself for whatever I’m feeling today, because her fluffy little cuddles tell me so. I can’t explain how much her non-judgment and nonverbal support has been to me.

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