6 Ways to Beat the Seasonal Blues

By: Andrea Breitung

November 07, 2018

Category: Recreation

Our clocks have fallen back and the daylight hours are getting fewer and fewer. This time of year, I tend to want to curl up in lots of blankets and hibernate until the weather starts to warm again.

Of course, hibernation isn’t feasible, but this internal desire has made the upcoming winter a dreaded time of year for me. I’ve tried to embrace winter in the past, but the lack of sunlight and bitter cold temperatures made it increasingly difficult. I’d end up in couch-potato status once the first frost hit, only venturing outside when required.

To counteract this sedentary winter lifestyle, I started volunteering for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and other winter recreational programs. But oftentimes, I’d find myself dreading spending the hours outside (once there, I’d never regret it but getting there was always a challenge).

This year, I am making a conscious effort to go into winter with a more positive attitude. To do that, I am realizing this mindset needs to shift now, before the temperatures are too brutally cold.

My goal is not to shy away from going outside as the temperature drops, but rather embrace it and make the conscious effort to bundle up and brave the elements at least a few times a week.

Want to join me? Here are a few ways to make the most of the season:

Admire the sunrise and sunset.

prairie grass silhouetted against an orange sunset.

Because of the shorter daylight hours, watching the sunrise and sunset is much more possible. Sunrises and sunsets are breathtakingly dramatic this time of year. Admire them on your commute to work, or make the effort to catch one or both every now and then.

Hit the trails after the sun goes down.

a glowing moon with twisting branches silhouetted against it.
Photo by Andrea Breitung.

Until the snow flies and sticks, trails are lit for hikers until 9 PM at Cleary Lake Park Reserve, Elm Creek Park Reserve, French Regional Park and Hyland Lake Park Reserve.

Other unlit trails offer a unique look into the parks. Listen for which nocturnal critters are still around or admire the silhouettes of a towering forest on a moonlit or headlamp-lit walk. 

Go for a walk on your lunch break.

a yellow diamond-shaped sign that says trails at your own pace.

Throw on your jacket and get some vitamin D during a short walk on your lunch break. Hop on a trail adjacent to your place of work, or find a Trail at Your Pace near you for a great lunch-time option.

Visit a nature center.

a building with tall glass windows in a wooded area.
Eastman Nature Center's observation area.

Nature centers provide a unique opportunity to get outside. Grab an exploration kit or trail guide from inside the building, simply go for a walk around interpretive trails, or let your imagination run wild at a nature exploration area. Once your outdoor adventures have concluded, stop inside to observe captive animals and see which creatures are visiting the wildlife viewing areas.

Hygge.

The Danish celebrate this time of year with hygge. Reward yourself after an outdoor adventure with a favorite treat. Settling in next to a roaring fireplace, sipping a warm beverage, curling up with a good book, enjoying a hearty meal — whatever your hygge is, it should add happiness and coziness to your experience.

Make the most of your day off.

a turf trail winding through a stand of pine trees with soft golden light.
Photo by Andrea Breitung.

Hiking this time of year is fantastic — there are minimal (if any) bugs and the temperatures are not too hot and not too cold. Although the peak of fall colors has passed, some trees are still hanging on to their leaves and the sky is oftentimes brilliant. 

Explore the parks to see which birds are still here and what other animals are still active. Some great parks for birdwatchers are Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve (a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area) and any park along the rivers — Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, and The Landing.

If you want to throw some technology into your hiking game, fall is one of my favorite times to geocache.

Whether bike commuting in almost-freezing temperatures, going for a lunchtime stroll, or spending hours outside on my days off, I’ve been managing to get outside multiple days each week. Even with temperatures dropping to the 30s or 40s, I’m not bundling up like I used to, and a lightweight jacket is sufficient. I’m finding joy in the little things, like the sunrise, sunset, or the magical golden hour when the sun is barely above the horizon.

My overall attitude about this time of year is shifting, and this winter is going to be my best one yet.

About the Author

Andrea in a quinzhee

Andrea Breitung is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Three Rivers. She has been with the Park District in various roles since 2001. She graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology. When not working, she likes to go camping, hiking, geocaching, biking, and paddling, as well as spend time with her boyfriend and fur kids.

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