For those who are new to the great state of Michigan, adapting to the winters can be a tad bit difficult. There's plenty we can do to prepare, right?
You buy the right clothes, make sure you have the right shoes, put cat litter in the back of your car JUST in case you get stuck in the snow, and so on. But, what about the little things? The things that aren't necessarily necessary for survival, but help us cope with the very early sunsets and lingering cold for months on end.
On Michigan's Reddit page, someone asked,
What are the little things that help you get through the winter and darkness? I'm not talking about essentials like an ice scraper or a good jacket. I'm talking about the "smaller" (and not so smaller) things that can make a considerable change to your mood.
They went on to list a few things like cozy socks, a dip in the hot tub, and even a lightbox. But, they're looking for more.
Based on personal experience (as someone who moved here from Florida) and on comments from Michiganders, here are at least 9 mood-boosting things and activities that will help get you through winter:
1. Get Outdoors
This was the number one answer when it came to surviving the winter in Michigan. Whether it's maintaining your running routine (even if it's outside), enjoying the local nature trails, or stargazing...there are plenty of things to do outdoors to get you out of the winter funk. Just make sure you dress properly.
If you're particularly interested in stargazing, here are some of the best places to do it around Kalamazoo:
2. Celebrate Festivals in Your Town and Those Nearby
A Reddit user by the name of bythepowerofgreentea said, in part,
Countdown to solstice and I celebrate it hard, go to the Christmas parades in other towns
What a genius idea. In Michigan, you usually won't have to travel far to find a smaller town celebrating the holidays with either some sort of festival or parade. If you feel safe, given the pandemic, why not drive 30 minutes to see what it's all about if there's nothing happening in your town at the moment?
The excitement around "soup season" is nothing to laugh at. People take it seriously. But, whether it's soup or some other comfort food, definitely use the cold/dark skies as an excuse to indulge in your favorite. Plus, experimenting with new soup recipes (I use a crockpot) can be a fun way to pass the time, too.
4. Get Creative!
If you're stuck at home, exploring your own creativity can be a great way to forget that it's -20 degrees outside. Whether that's drawing, painting, sewing, or anything else, it's surprising how big of a stress reliever that activity can be. And, as a reminder (she says to herself), it doesn't have to be perfect. This is just for you. Make it whatever you want! Or, if trying to be creative stresses you out, grab that book you've been wanting to read.
5. Catch Up on Those Projects
I try to stay busy with indoor projects, so I don’t get bored.
Have you been putting off organizing your closet? Finally putting those photos into an album? Sorting through the DVDs haphazardly stacked in the corner of your living room? Now's a perfect time. And, sure, sometimes those projects can feel like chores which aren't always the most desirable thing to do especially when battling seasonal depression. But, personally, I find that once those things are done (if you want to do them) it feels like a weight of sorts has been lifted off my shoulders.
This suggestion came from u/miley_whatsgood who said,
i've never been a big puzzle person but i just started getting into it and its great. keeps my brain moving while i watch tv.
Can confirm: I NEVER thought I'd be someone sitting at home doing a puzzle on a Friday night but, like the above comment mentions, it keeps my brain moving. Sometimes, distracting yourself is the best way to keep moving forward.
7. Throw Up Some Lights
My fiance and I put Christmas lights inside the window and on the Christmas tree last night. I just turned them on this morning and thought, this is the most beautiful time of the year. I also love the LED candles in my windows, it makes it so welcoming. I leave them in my windows all winter and it feels so cozy.
It may sound a bit "basic" as the kids would say, but a little bit of extra lighting does add a feeling of coziness to a room. If you live in a small apartment, you can find string lights for $10 or less that should be long enough to provide the desired effect. Or, as the above comment mentions, snag some LED candles to add to your living room or bedroom.
I know. Everyone recommends this and it can be SO annoying but, truly, even just 20 minutes a day (or every other day) makes a huge difference. If you need motivation, you can find workout tutorials on Youtube or even on free apps like FitOn.
9. Utilize Virtual Communication
This was not one of the suggestions on the original post but, rather, comes from personal experience. It's incredibly easy to fall into the feeling that because you're alone, you're isolated. In fact, and again I'm speaking personally, it's VERY easy to completely isolate yourself as you struggle to get through each day (especially in an ongoing pandemic). Zoom calls may not be the same as face-to-face hangouts but, if your friends are far away it's a perfect way to stay connected.
Wine night? Call up your friends for a group virtual hang out. You can do movie nights, trivia nights, or just sit there in silence if you'd like. As long as you're reminding yourself that you're not alone.
Making it through the winter, especially if it's your first, can definitely be a challenge. Hopefully, these little things can help provide you with some comfort as you make it through each, chilly day.
If you decide to take a road trip to shake up the mundane of the winter season, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for these very bizarre sculptures you can see from the road:
Weird Sculptures Spotted From Michigan Roads
Or, if you're in the Kalamazoo area, check out a new restaurant: