A few years ago, there was a February in Chicago with 18 minutes of sunshine. Eighteen minutes. In a month. There was also snow, sleet, freezing rain, or just regular rain at some point every single day. I called my beloved mother. I cried. And she ordered me some Uggs online.
My mom rocks.
But I've played that card. So, I've learned some other tricks to fight SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Wear bright colors. This was difficult last winter, when I was pregnant, and every maternity clothier from Target to A Pea in the Pod had winter lines featuring clothes in either black or dark grey. Gross. I did a little better at Old Navy where the scarf selection has never failed me, and at Boden, which began a maternity line just for me, it seemed.
I avoid wearing black. That being said, every one who lives in this city has a black coat, including me. But I'm looking for crimson, or cadet blue, or pink. Just haven't found it yet.
Turn on the lights! Turn on all the lights! It's freaking dark out there! Get the highest watt bulbs you can. Try to find bulbs that are below 5000K to avoid cold, bluish lights.
Light some candles. If I can't have the sun, I like to have scented mini suns glowing around the house. A scented candle changes the mood from gloomy to cozy. I love pumpkin, citrus or cinnamon scents. Find your favorite flavors and stock up. Target doesn't carry pumpkin scented candles much past November, as I have learned the hard way.
Use aromatherapy on your person. There's a reason my hand soap and my body wash are citrus scents. They remind me that summer will come again.
I don't often wear perfume, but when I do, it's usually Sugar Lemon from Fresh. Pioneer Woman introduced us, and it was love at first sniff.
Last year, desperate to use the $3.50 off a $10 purchase coupon for Ulta that did not include Bare Minerals or any of the other stuff I regularly purchase there, I found these OPI lotions in a six pack.
Lord knows, we go through a lot of hand lotion here. Hand lotion and lip balm.
But dressing in bright colors, turning on the lights and wearing scented lotion are a lot like taking a Tylenol when you have a broken bone. It's only going to help a little bit for a little while.
What really works against the winter doldrums is that bad word: exercise.
Walk in the mall.
Walk outside with these on.
Ice skate on a homemade rink in your backyard, or at the local flooded tennis courts.
Take a Zumba class.
Get Wii Fit.
Get a dog.
Get your butt moving.
Because nothing else is going to release the endorphins you need to stay sane.
Not even Chardonnay. Not even chocolate. Believe me, I've tried.
It is also important to have good friends.
Like the friend who will meet you at the mall at 9am in the freezing rain, and walk with you, and sit with you and chat when the baby has to nurse, and doesn't let you stop at Cinnabon for breakfast, but gently guides you toward the Subway.
Or the friend who will take turns holding said baby, when Baby has had it with the stroller. She is the friend who will listen to you cry on the phone about something stupid, like carpool, or whether or not your kid got to say a petition at the all-school Mass and then ask, "Wanna go for a walk?"
Friends like these are priceless. They are also necessary for those bitter, bitter cold days when you need to go out to lunch someplace fabulous, just to remind you that there are still fabulous places in the world.
And as a last resort, I fight the winter blues with an annual or bi-annual trip to someplace warm and sunny. Even a weekend with friends and their families in the Wisconsin Dells can do a lot to boost a girl's spirits. Plus, they have that wave pool with an indoor fake heated beach and umbrella drinks at the Great Wolf Lodge. Think you might be self-conscious in a bathing suit in February in the Dells? Think again. This is Wisconsin. Land of Cheese. They're not getting any sunshine either.
Can't afford a trip? No extra vacation days this year? Plan something else. Book Club, Dinner Club, Birthday Party, Half Birthday Party, Lia Sophia Party, Girls' Night Out, Trivial Pursuit Night. Planning things can help the longest season of the North pass more pleasantly.
Or you could always start a blog and act like you're an authority on things that other people take for granted. That works too.