Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Staying positive in the winter

Anyone who has spent a winter in upstate New York knows how cold and long it can seem. Between the overcast sky and the shortened days, winter can be a dark and depressing time. Many people suffer from seasonal depression and others just feel unmotivated and lonely. It is all too easy to fall into a depression in the winter time and I for one suffered horribly from this each year throughout my teens and into my early adult years. Each winter I found it all but impossible to get out of bed, to get dressed in warm clothes and to tackle the activities of the day. I felt miserable and neglected my physical, mental and social health. I would get into a pattern of neglect that was very difficult to break out of. I would gain weight, stop seeing my friends, sleep all the time and my grades would drop in school. Then about three years ago I made a plan.

The night that it happened was beautiful but bitterly cold. I was sitting on my friend’s porch watching the clear night sky. The moon was full and bright. We had been discussing all the negative aspects of Ithaca weather and the winter in general when I realized that I did this same thing every winter. “What was the point of complaining?” I wondered. I have lived in Ithaca my whole life and love the community and the town. I have no plans on moving south and if I do move it will not be out of New York, so I decided right then and there that I was going to change my attitude about the winter. I declared to my friend that I was going to start enjoying the season and all the activities that take place in Ithaca during this cold and cloudy time.

That winter I built a complete snow family and a snow fort that fit four. I had many snowball fights, I took pictures in the woods behind my parent’s house, I went for walks with my parent’s dog, and the list goes on and on. The point is that I stayed active, I had fun and I looked forward to each day. I got involved in community events, stayed warm and kept my social life going even though it was cold. I have kept up these activities each winter and have not been depressed since.

This worked for me, but some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD. This is more serious and I recommend that you check out the link at the bottom of the page for more information on this disorder.

I recommend that each of you take a look at your winter attitudes and behaviors and if you feel that you are in a funk, change your behaviors, have fun and invite your friends to tag along. I am always up for a winter walk in the woods or a day of sledding, so let me know if you are interested in coming along with me. The more you get outside the more you see the beauty of this cold season.

Before you go out to play in the snow remember some winter safety tips.

  1. Check the weather if you will be going for a long walk.
  2. Wear layers that let your skin breath and that keep you warm but not overheated. Wear a hat, scarf, gloves, and boots. This will help keep you warm and protect your extremities form frost bite.
  3. Follow signs that are posted on hills and trails. They are there because the area is not safe. Many people are injured or killed each year due to dangerous trails. If you are caught breaking the posted rules the ticket can be as much as $200! Don’t risk hurting yourself or your wallet.
  4. Take breaks from your play to get something to eat and drink and to warm your fingers and toes.
  5. Have fun and enjoy the winter time!

Winter Activities in Ithaca:

Greek Peak

Cass Park{DDB45CEB-0216-4E27-9C95-6F61B2C2F196}

The Rink


More information:

Seasonal Affective Disorder

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