How To Survive Winter: A Simple Survival Guide

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective

I don’t know about you, but once the New Year is over, winter just seems to linger. While I’m trying to find peace in the snow and chillier weather (slow cooker recipes and comfy sweaters for the win), the cabin fever can start to set in and get the best of us.  I’ve also come to notice how drastic the winter-blues takeover can be depending on where you live. Take me for example — I spend a week or two in Chicago each month, and the rest of my time (as of recently) up north in Traverse City.  Two completely different worlds – especially when winter hits.

In Chicago, its  snow slush that takes on a dark brown color, and angry locals just trying to get from point A to point B without windburn (it’s a real thing).  In Traverse City, it’s snow covered evergreens, ski resorts in full swing, local coffee shops with wood burning fire places and snowmobilers every which way you look.  It’s not to say that one is necessarily better than the other, but what I’m coming to realize is that winter is purely what you make of it. I’ve been participating in both — the cold city winter where I prefer to stay inside and hibernate (even though I start to go slightly crazy after a while), and the up north winter where I’m snowmobiling 58 miles and romping with my dog in an open field with 4 feet of snow, completely disregarding the freezing cold temperatures.

If you’re someone who just can’t handle the cold (that can be me! my back starts to spasm… anyone else get that?), your body doesn’t cooperate (you get sick easily or your skin is beyond dry), or maybe your mood shifts without consistent sunshine (it’s a real thing) — I’ve got some tips for you. I’ve been using them myself for years and I promise you, they work.  Instead of looking at this time of year as a drawn out cold mess, lets start viewing it as a chance to recharge, treat our bodies extra well, and train our brain to view things with a different perspective.

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective

(a snowy view heading down the driveway)

Tips for how to stay healthy & survive winter 

Take your vitamins

Sounds boring right? But winter is such a crucial time to stay on top of your health game. If you tuned into Instagram this past week (or the blog post yesterday), you heard me tell you all about the dreaded flu/head cold that I caught.  I’ll be the first to admit that I lacked on taking my vitamins this season, and I paid for it big time.  Here are my go-tos:

Emergen-C (I take one a day in the morning, after my breakfast)

Vitamin D3

Fish Oil

Vitamin K

Wishgarden’s Kick Ass Immune herbs

Wishgarden’s Kick Ass Biotic herbs (probiotic)

Air Purifying Essential Oils

Winter is generally not the time of year where we’re getting clean, fresh air.  Therefore, the air inside becomes stale and dare I say it, even a bit polluted (and DRY). Consider getting an air purifier or dusting off your diffuser and humidifier to have running throughout your home. You’ll be surprised at how big of a difference they make. Below are the oils that I use in my diffuser (and in my humidifier at night)

Lavender oil




Get enough sleep

I know, I know :) How often have you heard this tip? But ensuring that you’re getting enough sleep is essential to staying healthy in the winter months and makes such a big difference to your mental state. I need anywhere from 7-8 to be my best self and to stay ahead of any and all illnesses. If you’re not sure how much sleep you need — do a little test. Forego the alarm for a few days (maybe over a weekend) and see what time your body naturally wakes up. Do the math from when you went to sleep and when you woke.

Also, if you have trouble sleeping, try a noise machine. I never go to sleep without it. (I even bring it along when I travel) It’s that amazing.

Use the sauna

If you have access to a sauna through your gym or yoga studio, use and abuse it.  Not only will it give you a nice warm hug during the cold winter months, but the increase of blood flow due to the heat is good for your body. Mental health is just as important during the winter months — since it’s already so common to be a little heavy hearted with the lack of sun, use this as a time to hone in on self improvement.

Reduce stress

Use this time to see where in your life you can rid yourself of clutter and unnecessary pressure. Maybe you want to declutter your closet or finally crack down on your personal budget. Perhaps you want to start riding your life of toxic relationships, or you want to begin the process towards slow living.  This is the time, love.

Himalayan Salt Lamp

I’ve been using these lamps for years and not only are they aesthetically pleasing (so pretty!), but they work. If you’re unfamiliar, the negative salt ions that are released due to heat (heating of the lamp) have been shown to improve sleep, reduce allergy and asthma, and increase levels of serotonin. I have one in my bedroom as well as my office.

Embrace cozy

One of the ways that I go about enjoying the drawn out winter months is by embracing soft, comfortable clothing. Go through your closet and select only good quality items that are soft to the touch and provide warmth. If that’s leggings and oversized sweaters and cashmere socks seven days a week – so be it. This is the time to wrap yourself up in things that feel good. Below are some of my favorite items that I live in in the winter (via my winter capsule wardrobe)

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective

Now, onto the really tricky part. Surviving the actual cold weather that comes along with winter.  This season up north has been a total wake up call. Sure, in Chicago the wind is brutal and adds quite a slap to the face. But here in Traverse City, it’s been a regular occurrence of – degree weather, learning how to drive on snow and ice, and forcing myself to get creative when it comes to embracing this season. (though the gorgeous views here make it a tad bit easier ;)  In case some of you are in the same boat and at your wits end, or perhaps you don’t have electric heat in your home or office, below are some tips for surviving the bitter temps that come along with cold winters.

Cold weather survival 

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective

Learn how to build a fire

If you have a wood burning fireplace, this tip is probably a bit obvious. But I just wanted to point it out because until this winter, I had no idea how to build a fire (both inside or outside) I’ve grown up with gas fireplaces and the difference between heat sources is incredible.  Wood burning fireplaces not only sound incredibly charming (think: roaring and crackling), but it has the ability to heat the entire #TCCchalet (which wasn’t built for winter, I might add)  If you’ve got a fireplace, use it.

Layers and textures

Collect the blankets in your home and use them as a heat source. If you’re able, purchase a heat throw blanket. They may not be that pretty to look at, but oh my gosh are they soft (and worth it). It’s one of my favorite things in the world. A little story for you: my dad used to hate being cold, and my mom bought him one years ago. Every morning he would sit in his favorite chair wrapped up in his heat blanket. If I woke up before him, I’d be in that same chair, wrapped up in that same blanket. He loved waking up and seeing me there — and then playfully giving me the boot ;) When he passed away, that heat blanket was given to me.

If you’re in the market for a heat blanket or some warmer blankets to serve their purpose, below are some great affordable options. (keep in mind, wool is your friend during the winter months)

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective

Adhesive heat pads & warmers

If you have to be out and about during the super cold days, get creative with adhesive heat pads that you can get from any drug store or online at Amazon. When we went snowmobiling, not only was I wearing 2 pairs of wool socks, but I had foot warmers at my toes and hand warmers inside my mittens.  You don’t need to be doing a winter activity to wear these.  Strap one on your back to stay warm throughout your day running errands, put one on the back of your neck if you must. These inexpensive pads are a great heat source with very little inconvenience to your day to day.

Eat warm

Another one of my favorite things about winter (and something I choose to focus on and have fun with when I’m starting to feel defeated by the cold) are fun slow cooker and soup recipes. Nothing is more cozy to me than some warm toasted bread alongside a warm hearty stew. (and now I’m starving…)  Here are some of my favorite, reoccurring recipes that I grabbed from Pinterest:

Immune Boosting Cauliflower Soup

Minestrone Soup

Chicken Taco Chili

Classic Pot Roast

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective

So, there it is! My simple guide to surviving the winter and I hate to say it, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. So there’s still plenty of time for all of us to implement these fool proof tools for making the most of what’s left.  I’m always looking for tips and tricks that you might have up your sleeve, too, so feel free to leave a note here or over on Instagram! x

PS: My winter skincare routine and 5 herbs to add to your daily routine

How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective How To Survive Winter - The Calm Collective