Winter is cuddling up in bed or on the couch with two blankets, a pillow and a mug of hot chocolate. Winter is watching pretty white orbs fall gracefully to rest on a softly covered ground of clouds. But winter is also getting the breath knocked out of you from a mighty wind. It is red fingers shoved in the marshmallow of a coat you’re wearing, desperately trying to get warm. Winter is beautiful and fun, but man, it can be hard.
As someone who was born and raised in North Carolina with blistering summers and fairly mild winters, Wisconsin was an adjustment, to say the least. I was not even a little bit prepared — no matter how much I lied to my parents saying “I totally got this.”
Spoiler alert: I did not totally have this.
I now have a long Wisconsin winter under my belt, in addition to this current polar-vortex-whirlwind of a winter so far. I would like to think I’ve learned a good bit of weather knowledge in this year and a half full of trials, errors, and insightful people bestowing me their wisdom. For you, my friends who are going through a similar life-changing shift, here are five tips for conquering frigid winters.
1. Bundle Up
Before I moved, I was never a fan of layers; I thought they were constricting. I felt like I was suffocating and much preferred the one top and one pair of bottoms kind of outfit, but that’s a no-go when it’s freezing outside. Now, I have learned the beauty of layers. They are like being swaddled in blankets while you’re going about your day-to-day life; layered clothing brings warmth when your bed can’t. Go crazy with finding the cutest wool socks and scarves you can! Thicker clothing does not have to be a burden, find comfort and style in them.
2. The Right Gear
Snow boots may get heavy and clunky, but man are they ever important. Having to take off and put on a glove on your right hand, a glove on your left hand, a thick scarf wrapped around just right and a hat situated perfectly over your ears and forehead may be a lot of steps, but it feels good to not walk outside and have your skin sting. Please trust me, I made lazy and not-so-smart decisions before too.
Also, wait to buy your gear when you reach your cold climate destination. There will be a larger variety of options and ones that a much better suited for what you’re about to face.
It is so tempting to just stay inside cuddled up in lots of fabric, but you should get out there! If the weather isn’t dangerously cold — like it was in the Midwest not so long ago — go experience the fresh air and sun in the only capacity you can now. You can still have fun in the cold such as sledding, skiing, making snowmen, snowball fights, ice skating, standing around a firepit, etc.
Transportation can get kind of dicey when it’s icy. Be aware of what routes may no longer be good to take (such as back roads, or unshoveled sidewalks), and be knowledgeable on driving or biking in the snow. Always have a backup plan and know when it’s best not to go anywhere. If you have a car, here are some good items to keep inside: an ice scraper or brush for iced windows (or use a credit/debit/gift card/something similar as a lifehack), a flashlight, a blanket, a shovel, a first aid kit and antifreeze.
5. Take Care of Yourself With Essentials
Cold weather can take a toll on your physical and mental health, so it is important to take care of yourself. The air gets quite dry in the winter months, so be sure to lotion and moisturize your skin and drink plenty of water. Stay motivated and keep active in your passions as this can be a rather slow time for activity and good vibes. A sun lamp may be really beneficial in enhancing your mood and overall energy.
Just like those warm and breezy summer days, winter days can be nice. Remember, stay focused on your passions. Bundle up and get cozy! The cold is here to stay longer than you’re used to, and that is truly ok. Live it up and build many snowmen.