Winter in Michigan.

So I live in Michigan.

I know this means a lot to some people and nothing to others, but Michigan can easily experience all four seasons in one week. We joke about it, but really we love it.

One thing that I get asked a lot is, “How do you handle the winters?” My response is usually that I hate winter, but I hate giant bugs more. That’s a little facetious: I love Michigan, it’s where my family lives, it’s where I grew up, and the springs/summers/autumns are beautiful and worth experiencing. I would love to travel more, but I have zero desire to live anywhere besides Michigan (at least at this point in my life).

Since I’m going to remain living in a state where there’s like 8 months of winter, it’s really important to find ways to enjoy the winter time. Also, in West Michigan we get lake effect all winter, so we pretty much don’t see the sun between November-March. Vitamin D can be a problem. The local news recently declared that West Michigan hasn’t gotten more than one hour of sunlight a day since the beginning of November.

To deal with the lack of sunlight and mountains of snow, I have a few things that I try really hard to make sure I do to cope:

1 . Have lots of good, scented candles on hand. You can’t have enough of these. The thing about winter is that it’s a lot of the same, stifling, unexciting days all in a row, so the variety that new smells bring helps lighten my mood and helps me enjoy being inside.

2 . Drink lots of water. It’s tough for me because I don’t like just plain water, but I’m also deathly afraid of the artificial sugars in water-flavors. Staying hydrated is important, though, because winter is dryyyyy and that makes us more likely to be irritable.

3 . Moisturize! I recently purchased Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel, and it’s incredible. I’m pretty distrustful of moisturizer ads, but I decided to give this one a try because the reviews were really good, and I completely buy into it now. Normally I’m so itchy and have dry patches on my face, but so far this winter I haven’t had any issues thanks to this gel!

4 . Exercise! Just do it! It’s so difficult to get motivated when it’s dark so early, the snow is in your way, your bed is so cozy and calling your name, your dog wants to cuddle, and a plethora of other reasons. I usually don’t get home from work until 6pm, and then I have to make dinner, take care of my dogs, and prepare my lunch and outfit for the following day, and after all that I typically just want to sit and relax. I find, though, that if I take 20 minutes of my evening to exercise (anything from a high-intensity workout to yoga to running on the treadmill), my mood improves. The initial motivation is incredibly difficult, but it’s so worth it.

5 . Learn to Enjoy The Seasons. There is something to be said for the beauty of winter. Yes, snow triggers my anxiety; Yes, I hate how much longer it takes me to get to work or run errands; Yes, I hate having to layer up before I take the dogs outside (or check my mail, or take the trash out, or bring in groceries, or just going anywhere near my door), and everything takes longer when I barely have enough time to begin with. However, I am learning that I need to take deep breaths and be patient, and that if I don’t try to take the winter in stride and enjoy as much of it as I am able to, then I will lose about 8 months of my life every year to anxiety.

So there you have it: 5 ways that I try to survive the winter in a state that I love too much to leave. If you have more advice or tips for surviving winter, feel free to comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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