Today is a snow day. “Yeah!” The kids cheer. “No school!” You remember these coveted snow days when you were in grade school. You would abandon schoolbooks for snow forts and hot chocolate, for vegging in front of the TV or playing hours of video games in your PJ’s. It was a gift from nature.
For some, a snow day doesn’t seem like a gift or automatically joyous occasion. You may feel slightly unsettled, maybe a little panicked, or sad about it. Today’s snow day may feel more like a worry: the car getting stuck, the work missed, the catch-up you’ll have to endure when you go back, the electricity going out and getting cold, entertaining and taking care of family members, not to mention caring for yourself. You want to curl up under the covers, but even that gives you a guilt trip. What now? Here are some survival tips to get you through the mental mess a snow day can create.
- Don’t ignore the nagging, unsettled feelings or melancholia. Put them to the challenge instead by acknowledging them, uncovering them, and washing them away using mindfulness. It’s simple really. We spend so much time avoiding uncomfortable feelings, redirecting them, denying them, and finding distractions. We turn on the TV or curl back up under the covers, but the uncomfortable feelings return or worsen, the panic rises. Pick a quiet, sunny or warm spot in your home and take a seat. Relax into the chair, loosen your shoulders, and breathe from your diaphragm. Feel the breath relax your body. Take as many slow deep breaths you need to feel calm and clear your mind of the negative chatter. If this is especially hard, fill your mind with positive thoughts and affirmations instead (“This is a day meant for me.”) or a healing mantra (“peace,” “love,” “safe”). You will find that all the answers, peace, and calm you needed were actually inside of you the whole time. Mindful attention with loving kindness helps this wisdom come to the surface. What will you uncover? It just may change the course of the entire day for the better.
- Push against the feeling to hibernate and get your body moving. Getting your blood pumping and lungs breathing will remind your body that it’s daytime–time to be awake. That way, when it’s time to go to sleep, your body will be happy to do so and you’ll avoid the stress of a sleepless night. How? Vacuum the house, shovel snow, make something, turn on the music and dance, and run up and down the stairs every hour, walk the dog, knead bread dough. This is a win-win—your body and mind reap the benefits of movement and your house gets cleaned, or driveway shoveled, etc. Exercise also increases feel-good chemicals in your brain and body.
- Get creative. It’s easy to plop down in front of the TV or computer but it’s not as enriching or motivating and healing than creating something. We all have the ability to create, but don’t have the same interests or ability levels. Today, ability doesn’t matter. Find something you like to create and get down to it. The hardest part may be setting your mind to it. Get the paints out, pull out the cookbook or scrapbook, dust off the piano, uncover the journal and pen, or open your blog and type. It may help to put on your favorite music to serenade you and get your creative juices flowing. Let the activity itself take over—time spent in positive attention and not in worry. You may find that it swallows up most of your snow day and provides the stimulation needed to stay positive until tomorrow.
Today’s snow day or any change in the structure of the day/week can be stressful. Instead of bucking the winds and swells of change, stand at the helm, take the wheel and set a healing course for creativity and mindfulness. Bon voyage!
*If you are experiencing extreme emotions such as with depression or anxiety and don’t feel like you can handle it on your own, or feel at risk for self-harm, please contact your therapist or healthcare provider, a good friend or family member to access appropriate support.