If you don’t already have an opinion on winter weather, you certain will have one once you serve in a cold area. Just the thought of snow can either light you up with excitement or fill you with dread.
The problem with winter weather is that it’s generally true that you will spend a lot more time outside on your mission than you’ve done in the past. You also can’t just put off appointments or proselyting until you feel ready to brave the cold.
Having the winter blues—known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—is a real thing which can make missionary work even more difficult. However, colder missions could have cold and dark days for months; beat the blues with some of these tips.
An obvious one, right? Use your P-days well and ensure you and your companion are wearing quality winter gear. I once went a few weeks wearing thin, broken boots that got my feet cold and soaked with each day. It was a constant reminder of just how cold it was.
Invest in thermal wear: thermal garments, stockings, shirts, socks, and more. Generally if your extremities (face/ears, hands, and feet) are warm, the rest of your body will feel better.
Another options is to carry warm drinks with you. You can carry around a thermos with hot cocoa or tea to sip on when waiting for public transportation to arrive, or if you need a burst of courage before knocking on doors. Lemon mint tea with a bit of honey is my personal favorite tea to help combat itchy/sore throats.
Have you ever experienced a “food coma”? The feeling where you eat so much filling food that you can’t move or otherwise function? The winter is a grand time to eat lots of delicious, warm foods that create that kind of energy loss.
Eating a balanced diet and appropriate proportions (when you can control it) will give you fewer excuses to stay inside to “recover.”
In general, keeping the rules in the handbook about maintaining a proper schedule will bless you in this regard: you’ll get enough sleep and proper exercise to help you feel less lethargic.
Easier said than done, keeping a busy schedule can get your mind off of the weather. Generally, you’ll be a lot more willing to go outside if you have a good reason—you have a stellar appointment, service project, or meeting. However, what are some things to do when your schedule is nothing but proselyting?
Try to create plan B’s, C’s and Ds. Not that proselyting is a waste of time, but it can be the most difficult aspect of missionary work. Talking to grumpy people in the cold darkness isn’t always extremely conducive to the Spirit. That means your wintery weeks should be filled with purposeful activities. Maybe it’s time to do a service project or visit a member to shake up your finding methods.
Your schedule should be somewhat invigorating to help you feel more motivated to do your best. A boring schedule will mean you’re out of the house, but you may not be happy about it, and a poor attitude will make it harder to connect with potential investigators.
Keep this especially in mind when the holidays are over; it’s easier to be cheerful when Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, but come January and February, time seems to go twice as slow. Often to keep up our spirits, my companion and I would sing when appropriate. I sometimes created parodies of songs from back home with missionary themes, or sang popular Disney songs with my companions just to make a dull day more amusing. It doesn’t work for everyone, so feel free to get creative.
Keep in Touch
Your Heavenly Father, mission president, and companion will understand what you’re going through. Please be vocal about your sudden change in motivation and behavior to ensure your companionship is working as a team.
Work with your companion to keep the rules and keep each other healthy and happy. This doesn’t mean braving through a cold or the flu for the sake of being “tough” and hardworking. Keep constant communication on each other’s needs—whether it’s help cutting down on the Christmas chocolates, or feeling the Spirit while approaching people for hours.
Call your mission president if you suspect that your mood change or lack of energy is becoming long-term. He can help ensure you’re properly diagnosed by local resources to ensure you get the help you need. If it’s bad enough, you might be prescribed anti-depressants or natural lighting to brighten your mood.
You’ll be able to make it through the winter months by following these and other tips. How do you make the most of the Winter season? How do you generally motivate yourself?