How to stress less when you're snowbound

Ah snow. Who doesn't like to wake up to a soft, silent world of white? Who doesn't still get a small thrill when the words "snow day" are announced? Oh, that's right, adults with jobs and responsibilities – and stress due to being stuck in the house behind an unmoving wall of snow. This winter, when you end up snowbound, instead of seething, take advantage of the things you can get done and view your day at home as a way to actually reduce stress and be ultimately therapeutic.

Winter Scene

Cook your stress away

The next time snow is forecast, make sure to head to the grocery store and refill your pantry because snowbound days make great days for cooking.

Jessica Maier, a Houston, Texas native discovered this when she recently moved to Switzerland. Now, baking bread and cooking food to freeze for future use are two of her favorite stress-reducing activities during snow days.

Margaret Scanlon agrees. "Baking!" Scanlon answers immediately when asked about snow day plans in Helena, Montana. "I love a good snow day, especially one that makes the house smell like chocolate chip cookies!"

Clean, de-clutter and stress less

It's sad but true that sometimes the "found time" of a snow day is best used for cleaning. Maier likes to clean out and reorganize the basement while she's snowbound while Scanlon prefers scrubbing the tub. It’s not glamorous by any means, but keeping a clean house can do wonders in lowering overall stress (click to read Get organized and stress less).

And for Liz Riley, a veteran of Syracuse, New York, cleaning up the snow itself is a great use of time. "Go outside and shovel the drive way or walkway," Riley advises. "If you don't have either, ask a neighbor if they need help." Not only will you clear a path and feel a little less trapped, but you'll also burn enough extra calories to hit the hot cocoa without any guilt.

Reach out and connect with others

Getting in touch with family and friends can also help you feel less stressed and isolated while snowbound. Amy LeClair considers a New York City snow day is the perfect opportunity to catch up with loved ones. Clearing out her email inbox and working on her blog are common activities, but snow days often give her the time to think about writing a good old-fashioned letter. "Every now and then I like to pull out my box of stationery and note cards and just write letters to friends," says LeClair. "I love getting mail that's not a bill or a credit card solicitation, so I like to treat friends to a special little surprise."

Catch up on your leisure

Catching up on hobbies and leisure activities is another enjoyable way to reduce stress and make the most of a snow day.

For Jessica Maier the extra time is spent on her photography. "I try to take as many photographs as I can and I actually consciously hoard them for the longer, bleaker winter days," she reports. "With the already dark skies, I just shut the blinds a bit and the result is pretty much a digital darkroom. I get a lot more photos edited knowing that I can not go out to run any errands."

Mom and Daughter in SnowRiley also likes to catch up on her personal interests during snow days. Online shopping, making Christmas decorations (at any time of the year!), soaking in a bubble bath and picking out a good book are all preferred choices for slow snow days.

Appreciate the extra time

But snow days don't have to be all about productivity. "The best part about a snow day is that it reduces my stress level because it is basically a free day," says Elizabeth Connor of Gorham, Maine.

Liz Riley agrees. "These are essentially paid days – for the lucky ones of us – off of work so we might as well use them to their most. Clean, get stuff done about the house for the first half and relax the second half. That way you won't feel the day is wasted."

For Margaret Scanlon, enjoying the snow itself is just as important as making the most of extra free time. "Build snow-forts and snow-men," she recommends. "Anything that helps you appreciate the extra day and the great weather!"

Snow days can be long and dreary if you let them, so the next time you start to see flakes fall, dedicate yourself to staying positive and productive. Draw up a list of chores you can complete, make a dent in your to do list, and then relax. After all, when the snow begins to melt you'll be back to your ordinary routine. Do something out of the ordinary while you still have the chance!


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