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Struggling To Get Through The Emotional Sludge Of Winter?

Learn from those who live in the coldest places in the world.

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Jen Sang, and her two sons, in their hometown in France. Photographs by Diana Bagnoli
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It’s cold, dark and depressing outside.

The days seem to last forever — there’s little sunlight and spring doesn’t seem to be arriving any time soon. The only holiday on our radar is Valentine’s Day, and it’s not even a good one. Those in relationships already get to celebrate being loved daily, while those who aren’t are just a little more miserable on the 14th.

But what about all those people who live like this most of the year? I mean, Alaskans, Canadians, Norwegians ... they must have figured out how to not only survive but thrive in this ridiculous weather. So, we asked them for their tips.

Dress for the weather

Jen Tsang, who lives at a ski resort in La Plagne, France, goes outside daily, walking her kids to and from school and skiing. She prefers layering in bright, rainbow colors to help her family stay happy and motivated — and to easily spot each other in limited visibility, especially when the sun sets early. Start with moisture-wicking base layers (athleisure wear by Lululemon, Athleta and Lucy are great for this), followed by insulating wool mid-layers and a windproof outer shell, preferably filled with 100 percent down. Protect your extremities with insulated gloves, a warm hat and waterproof boots.

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Diana Bagnoli

Embrace the cold

Chanelle Rosenbaum moved to Canada from Australia a few years ago, and her first winter was consistently more than -30 degrees for several weeks. While she wanted to hibernate, she quickly learned that going outside daily was the key to getting through winter. “If it’s sunny, head outside and feel the sun on your face,” says Rosenbaum. “Just going for a short walk and getting some fresh air can make a huge difference to your sanity. And once you get home again, you will appreciate being cozy and warm inside even more.”

Ryan Wilson, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, tries his best to enjoy winter weather. “The sound of snow when you walk on it changes as the temperature gets colder,” he says. “There’s a certain crispness to the air that only comes when it’s cold.”

Find warmth in unexpected places

Wilson loves to visit his off-the-grid Alaska cabin, which is warmed with a small wood stove. Or he heads to a hot spring, where his body is warm in the water while his head is freezing in the -40-degree air. Getting super cozy when it’s freezing outside is the best feeling, he says.

Find the sun

Wilson also tries to get out of Alaska for a week in the dead of winter for an injection of sunlight and warmth that will last him until spring. “Having that mid-winter respite to look forward to really helps make winter more bearable,” he says. Can’t take a trip? Try setting up a sun lamp, also known as a SAD lamp. They help your body produce Vitamin D and have been proven to alleviate seasonal affective disorder by helping your brain produce hormones, including serotonin. Try sitting by a 10,000 lux SAD lamp for a half-hour daily to feel the effects. In addition to the SAD light, AJ Yarwood of Edmonton, Alberta, decorates his home with candles and fairy lights and lights a fireplace to create a warm, toasty ambiance.

Play winter sports

It sounds frightful, but it will help you fall in love with the season, Yarwood promises. He loves to ski, snowboard and go ice skating. Not ready to take the plunge into winter sports? Start small with a snowball fight or make a snowman.

Create a daily ritual

Yarwood finds a routine helps him stay motivated and productive during the long winter months. He starts his day with a cup of coffee and gratitude journaling and ends it under a blanket with his wife, watching his favorite shows.

Turn your home into a sanctuary

“My home is my refuge during winter,” says Yarwood. “I add cozy elements like rugs, plants or art to make it more inviting.” It’s all about enjoying the simple things, adds Ramiro Somosierra, who grew up in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, crackling fires, hot drinks, warm blankets and good company.

Take advantage of the dark

With fewer daylight hours, it’s the perfect opportunity to appreciate the night sky in ways you can’t during the summer months. Somosierra says he did this so often that he became an amateur astronomer, a passion he acknowledges he probably wouldn’t have discovered living elsewhere.

Are you someone who suffers from the winter blues — or do you love winter? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle