117: 25+ tips to help you get through winter
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After the buzz and energy of the winter holidays are over, people can sometimes fall into a slump and get stuck in the darkness of the season. Here are 25+ tips from myself as well as readers/listeners of A Farmish Kind of Life to hopefully help you get through winter and make it through to spring with a smile on your face.
You can also check out my winter post from last year: Winter is Hard: Mental Health for Homesteaders as well as Winter Projects: What to do While You’re Waiting for Spring.
NOTE: This podcast/blog post is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice regarding depression. I’m not a medical professional. I’m just an adorkable farmgirl with a microphone.
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My plan to get through the winter:
Be honest about what affects me negatively and positively, and then give the appropriate attention to those things: Sometimes it makes me feel powerful to listen to podcasts, people, etc. who are all about fighting the man, changing the world, taking action, etc. Other times, it all just feels like angry noise. And I know it’s not just me because I have heard from followers and listeners and readers who have said, “I just can’t listen to it all right now, does that make me a bad irresponsible person?” Whatever that thing is that you’re supposed to be fixated on right now…will you remember it a month after it passes? What was the last thing you were supposed to be worried or fixated on? Is anyone talking about it now? Save your worry and concern for what deserves it. (Hint: things you can actually affect or do something about.)
Eat good food: But also not beat myself up when I decide to bake a pie or have an old fashioned or two while I snuggle with my husband. Your body requires good fuel to do the work it needs to do, but there’s nothing wrong with treats—if you understand the meaning of the word treat—so stop with the dang guilt.
Learn something/have a project: I feel like part of what’s at the heart of the difficulty of winter, especially for homesteaders, is that you might feel as though you’re not accomplishing as much. We are so busy spring summer and fall that when we’re not meeting ourselves coming and going from the barn to the garden to the kitchen in the winter, we can almost feel like there is something wrong. And then we do this weird “guilt” thing and this weird “questioning my worth” thing. To counteract that, I’m making a list of the projects that need to be done in the house and the skills I need to brush up on. And I will devote this winter downtime to those things with the mindset that I’m preparing for spring’s arrival (instead of waiting for winter to end).
Figure out what I want: Yesterday I was flitting about doing all the things and I had a really productive day. However there was this feeling nagging at me that I didn’t get done what I wanted to do. Like there was still something else I was supposed to be doing. I’ve realized that it’s very important for you to know what you want, what your goal is, what you’re heading for, what the to-do list entails. If you don’t know what you want, you won’t know when you accomplish it.
Reader/Listener Suggestions for How to Get Through the Winter:
“I’m trying to find time each day to read, even if it’s just 5 minutes. Starting some seeds; who doesn’t love to see green growth starting when you’re surrounded by snow?! Avoiding the news, other than the weather at 6:17pm, has been so good for my mental health. Getting back on the letter writing bandwagon for my pen pal in California.” — Lettie
“Spending more time outside. Staying Facebook-free (it’s been 6 weeks already). Starting seeds. Maybe, just maybe, visiting family if they’ll have us.” — Ashley
“(Making) 100% grass fed beef tallow. What a job, whew! Learned a lot though.” — Joy
“My goal to get to spring sane (this assumes I’m starting sane) is to simply put one foot in front of the other. Do what I can each day, do a little something I want to (instead of have to) and start every single day remembering five things I’m grateful for.” — Jan
“(My) wife and I have been working on avoiding crazy and extreme people to reduce stress. We have found that on more than one occasion we have locked each other out of the house.” — Harry
“Daylight. Spend as much time in the sun as you can each day. Start seedlings so you have something green to see. Focus on a project. Or three. I just spent an entire freezing rainy day going through the family library and reorganizing it all.” — Rose
“I love my bird feeders. The birds come every day regardless of the temperature. They give me joy just watching them flit about.” — Faith
“The spring and summer absolutely kick my butt. And I know this. And while I am looking forward to it, I know this (winter) is my only down time. So I am keeping busy doing the things I never have time for in other months. Learning new skills. Using up all those berries and whatnot I frantically tossed in the freezer over summer. So I guess, the way I get thru winter is to remind myself DAILY this is the slow I need so I can ready again for the fast.” — Amy
“Practicing gratitude until it becomes second nature, listening to music (it always lifts me), getting out in the sunshine as nature allows and digging into painting, sewing and craft projects that I don’t have time for in the summer! Growing older scares me a bit as there are things I can no longer do or do ad well, but I feel very blessed to have the opportunity.” — Kathy
“I’m doing ‘morning pages’ where I write 3 pages of my thoughts each morning. I also plan to take a mile walk each day either outside or on the treadmill. Also read my morning devotional every day. No excuses!” — Charlene
“Help others if you can. It will boost your spirits along with those that need you. You can start small in your own community, church, school. COVID has affected these activities in some ways but not all. Make a meal for someone or a family. Offer to pick up groceries for someone. That will get you outside. Make friendly phone calls to someone. Pick up some treats and deliver to local law enforcement, hospital staff, shelters.” — Deb
“I am just watching the daylight stay fractionally longer each day and reminding myself that DST is just ten weeks away.” — Patricia
“Get out in the sunshine when able.” — Cher
“Just keep swimming.” — Becky
“Stop, take a breath, look around, and remember why I am here at least three times a week and not just slog through the muck and mud (we get mostly rain instead of snow sooo…)” — Kim
“How I’m getting through the winter…
1. Homeschooling… the real kind, not pandemic style. It’s more and less intensive than it was when they were little, in different ways.
2. Seed catalogs – seriously just to dream … and maybe order a few packs, but I don’t need much.
3. Crochet – I have a few projects for loved ones that I’ll work on by the fire.
4. Cooking and baking – seems ordinary, but we don’t eat out/take out much due to food allergies – 95% is homemade. I enjoy it – most of the time. I’ve been sidelined due to surgery last month and hopefully will be able to do all the (domestic) things in the coming months. Kudos to my husband who’s picked up most of the slack. Praise the Lord for deep freezers! I prepped really well, so it hasn’t all been on my husband.
5. 4-H leader – wow is it time consuming, but also really awesome seeing the growth in the kids! Harder full virtual, maybe more time consuming than it was pre-pandemic…
6. Getting back to regular exercise (streaming subscription). I miss it. I’m not fit by any stretch of imagination, but I feel mentally and physically better with being active on a regular basis.
7. FaceTime- I miss my friends, but being immune suppressed right now, it’s not an option to put myself at risk for anything. Seeing their faces on my shiny screen lifts my spirits.” — Nicole
“We are just getting started with the idea of homesteading, we just moved out to the country a year ago. Part of the decision to garden a lot comes from the need to feed five boys, but part of it is because it is so grounding to be outside, with your hands in the dirt, a part of the natural world. It just helps a lot to stave off depression, and calms nerves. In the winter that isn’t possible, so I am trying to create the same grounding experience inside by switching to other forms of craft. I have crocheted for years, but am teaching myself to knit this winter. Knitting with wooden needles, with 100 percent wool yarn in deep, rich colors is a very grounding experience, and helps to fill my cup up since it is also creative and productive. It’s connecting with our roots while being inside. I’m also trying to switch to totally cooking from scratch. Eating real food, and spending time creating food in the kitchen with my hands is another way I keep that light on in the winter here in Wisconsin.” — Ashley
“I am not a winter person. I hide inside under blankets and wish I had a fireplace. This winter however, (my husband) and I decided to embrace the outdoors even when it’s cold and we are planning a weekend getaway without the kids to hit some trails doing some cross country skiing. My husband also finally agreed to watch the full Lord of the Rings series!” — Lianna
“Leading up to Winter, I have been on – a mission? A quest? A destination? – a search for something to help with my anger and depression, because it’s only going to get worse the more I’m locked up in the house. On this search I found Stoicism. It has helped a tremendous amount. The main book that has helped is The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday. Another thing I did was buy The Whole Seed Catalog from Baker Creek. I have always loved looking thru their normal catalog throughout Winter. But since this year has been super crap-tastic, I figured why not spend $10 to get a 500 page seed catalog. I have found that dreaming of the future helps with my depression and gives me something to look forward to. I know a lot of people will talk about the canned food they preserved to eat through the winter and things of the sort. But one thing I think too many of us homesteaders forget to do is take a rest day or to do things to help our mental well being. We are all hard working people, which is a detriment to our health if we only work, work, work.” — Troy
“Here are some of the things I plan to do this winter to stay calm and keep my sanity.
•Go sledding, build a snowman, go snowboarding, teach my girls to ski
•Plan my garden, order seeds, start seeds way too early again because it worked last year
•Finally get into a homeschool project with my girls
•Crochet a blanket
•Play some video games
•Plan a way to convince my city to allow chickens
•Plan my next remodel project (🤞 it’s a shed and chicken coop)
•Maybe take an online art class (outschool.com is awesome for this)
•Get into a more efficient cleaning routine in the house
•Read lots of books
•Bake more bread
•Organize our storage spaces
•Research and learn a new skill
•Plan a trip to somewhere new
What I’m not going to do:
•Read the news. I’ll skim it, check the obituaries, and do the puzzles.
•Discuss current problems with people who are emotionally attached to one side or the other, it’s not good for me, it’s not good for them.
•Stop dreaming of bigger and brighter tomorrows” — Ashley
— Amy Dingmann 1-4-21
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