Winter-weary? Tips for turning 'lost time' to a positive

February 13, 2014 4:16:21 AM PST
Temple University psychologist Frank Farley knows a thing or two about severe winters. He grew up in northern Alberta, and taught at Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.

While we don't have anything like the -60 degrees of his youth, this winter has been a tough one for area residents, Dr. Farley admits.

Many of us are 'snow-weary,' tired of the endless shoveling, salting, bundling up, and trying to deal with the kids' school cancellations. But Farley says you can turn this winter into a positive experience for yourself and your family.

First, there's that endless to-do list, tasks you never seem to get around to, or don't feel like dealing with. Farley says if you tackle that jammed closet, disorganized desk, or those mystery boxes in the attic, you will feel a whole lot better by the time spring rolls around.

"Get things done that have been hanging around and haven't been dealt with," Farley says.

Exercise is important for fighting the winter blues. If you can't get outside or go to a gym, do basic calisthenics in front of the TV.

If your kids are getting bored or brimming over with excess energy, Farley suggests making these snow days family project time. Get them involved in a project, whether it is cleaning out the toy box, making popcorn chains for the birds, or volunteering time to help a neighbor.

"Let's go down the street, to Mr. and Mrs. so and so," he suggests. "Go down and knock and ask can we help you in any way, maybe we can do their sidewalk, do shopping for them perhaps."

"The bonding that can come out of that is incredible," Farley notes, adding that families often have a hard time being together in a constructive way.

And be sure to share time with elderly or shut-in neighbors.

"I worry most about those who are alone," he says.

One family blogger has a one-word prescription for the winter blues - laughter.

Studies show laughter releases a surge of endorphins and ther feel-good brain chemicals.

Watch a favorite funny movie or TV series episode, and by the time it's done, you'll have forgotten it was snowy or cold.

It also helps to share your experiences, even the negative ones with friends and family. Talking about it helps your brain process the events.

"Humans have amazing resilience, thousands of years of overcoming adversities," he notes.

Farley says it's important to realize the storms will go away, the winter will pass, and you will have a new chapter for your personal and family history - perhaps by summer you'll actually be chuckling about what you looked like all bundled up or how many snowmen you and the kids made!


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