Wisconsin’s winter months can test anyone, regardless of how much you enjoy the snow and cold. With the temperature drop comes increased time inside and fewer opportunities to participate in outdoor activities.
It is important to have some strategies to keep you active and feeling positive during this time of year to stay healthy and engaged and beat the winter blues.
These tips will keep you engaged and stay away from the seasonal doldrums.
Cozy Up with a Good Book
There’s nothing like a great read on a cold day to warm the soul. Transport yourself to another (perhaps warmer) place through the magic of reading. Resources at the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) will keep you reading through the winter months and throughout the year.
This library provides books in audio and braille formats for patrons across the state with blindness and visual impairment as well as those with a physical or reading impairment. A wide selection of titles available free of charge in formats that make it easy to read or listen to the titles you choose.
Receive books on cartridges with a user-friendly player by mail. Titles are also available as digital downloads through the library from the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) website, which can be played or read on your computer. The library also offers printed braille materials, many obtained through a partnership with the Talking Book and Braille Library in Utah, which has a sizeable collection.
Katie Saldutte, Outreach Librarian with the WTBBL, says the library has launched a new Winter Reading Challenge this year, which encourages participants to read 20 minutes each day. This month, readers can take part in the challenge by logging reading time on a large print or braille calendar the library sends. Once the challenge is complete, participants send the log back and get a prize.
“I got the idea from colleagues from around the country who are doing similar challenges,” says Saldutte. “It sounded fun! We have a decent number of people signed up and I’m excited.”
The WTBBL also offers a book club every other month with discussion by phone conference twice, once during the day and another in the evening. Club members receive a player and cartridge with all titles for the year to participate without having to mail the library bi-monthly.
In April the club will read, “Reach for More: A Journey from Loss to Love and Fulfillment,” by David Szumowski, meeting on Tuesday, April 6 at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
You can still sign up for the reading challenge or take part in the book group by contacting the WTBBL at (800) 242-8822 or WTBBL@Milwaukee.gov. For additional resources on reading, visit an archived News You Can Use.
Get Active, Get Outside
You may have heard the saying that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. While that may be a stretch some days, there are ways that you can get outside and be active in the cold while keeping warm and safe.
Finding a way to keep moving outside can be important to preserve your mental health by staving off cabin fever. Plan a winter walk with a friend to get important social connection and have someone to keep you motivated and safe.
Renee Kuester-Sebranek of Chippewa Falls likes to hike and walk in the winter with her husband, Ken, and guide dog, Charade. She has also tried snowshoeing.
“Getting outside for some fresh air and vitamin D from the sunshine helps to make your mood better,” she says. “Anything you can do to get outside and enjoy the outdoors improves the winter.”
She advises wearing layers, gripping footwear and using slip-on traction cleats like Yaktrax© or Korkers on your boots to prevent falls. Find safe winter walking tips in one of our archived News You Can Use.
“Be safe and smart. Make sure people know where you’re going and when you’re going to be back. Have a cellphone with GPS for navigation,” Kuester-Sebranek advises. “If you don’t have a guide dog, I suggest using trekking polls. They can help with balance and make you a little more conscientious about what is in front of you.”
Other things Kuester-Sebranek likes to have: sunglasses, a hat with a brim, a backpack with snacks, and a first aid kit.
Get Your Game On
Many people used technology for social connection this past year and that included playing games. Get together with friends from a distance to play games on your computer, tablet or phone in a virtual environment.
Games such as Monopoly, Farkle and Yahtzee are among the 20 games at your fingertips at the RSGames website . This site has a collection of card, board and dice games accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired that are free to play on your computer or device. RSGames can be played on a PC or iOS device for players who are blind. Sighted or Android users can play these games on a web browser. Another option is the Dice World app which offers addicting games including Trees and 1-4-24 for iOS and Android devices.
Council Access Technology Specialist Jim Denham says playing virtual digital games is a great way to have fun and connect with friends during the winter months. The Council offers technology training to help you learn how to play games online. Using accessible tools including braille or low vision playing cards or tactile dice are also a great way to make play inclusive.
These are just a few examples of ways to stay engaged and active through this winter. While it may seem long, there are plenty of ways to keep busy during this season. Stay warm!
Adaptive products and services available in the Sharper Vision Store:
- Braille playing cards: standard size plastic playing cards feature both regular print and Braille. Item # RT401
- Braille Uno: Item # RT101
- EZ See Low Vision Cards: Standard Bicycle playing cards with jumbo-sized markings with color combinations that make them easier to see. Item # RL435
- Tactile Dice: Set of two featuring raised dots. Item # RT206
- Yaktrax©: Designed to stretch over the bottom of your shoes or boots to provide extra traction when walking on snowy surfaces. Item # HP150
- Technology training: One-on-one training sessions available by appointment. Request an appointment on our website at wcblind.org/who-we-are/vision-services-requests/or contact Jim Denham at (608) 237-8104 or JDenham@WCBlind.org.