It always seems like around this time of year, post-holiday season, I get a serious case of the winter blues. After weeks of overindulgence in rich foods, sweet treats, comfort and too much socialization, it’s a shock to the system once the festivities are done and we’re expected to return to real life and resume our normal routines. Come mid January, everything tends to lose it’s sparkle and winter seems to drag on forever, especially here in the Midwest.
But did you know that happiness is a CHOICE and that sometimes it takes WORK to achieve it?
So I have to remind myself that as much as I want to burrow into my blankets and stay there until spring, this mama has responsibilities and real life to attend to. Better to face the world fighting for joy than to surrender to the glum. Here is my recipe to survive the winter woes:
1. Chase down the sunlight. Go where the sunlight moves throughout the day.
2. Listen to upbeat mood music play in the background. Beats Antique, Parov Stellar and Lindsay Sterling are some of my family’s favorites. Some swing music, upbeat jazz, or sassy country music like The Dixie Chicks are great too.
3. Bring some color inside. With the world washed in white, it’s easy for your mood to fall into the grey. Shock your spirit back to life with a punch of color here and there. Perhaps by covering an old throw pillow with a bright patterned fabric, finding a bright yellow coffee mug, painting a canvas with color rich abstract brush strokes, adding some cheery flowers to the mantle, a side table or the bathroom. Or use washi tape in fun patterns and colors to upgrade things like your computer monitor, your filing cabinet, or a picture frame. It’s cheap and noncommittal.
4. Bring some greenery inside. My favorite no-fail plant is the bamboo plant I keep in my bathroom. It thrives no matter what and it makes my bathroom feel like a spa.
5. Take a bath with some bright smelling bath soak.
6. Drink some mint tea. It truly is invigorating for the spirit.
7. Dress warmly. Wear leggings and an undershirt under your clothing and wear warm slippers around the house that cover the entire foot. Also make sure you have a warm coat, hat, gloves, and boots. This is a big one. I realized a few years ago that a lot of my grumpy attitude in the cold months was tied directly to the fact that my body was expending so much energy trying to keep myself warm that I was physically exhausted. My muscles were sore from shivering and huddling and resisting movement all day long.
8. Get moving to warm up by decluttering! I hate moving when I am cold. Until the blood gets pumping, all I feel is cold gushes of air swirling around me while I move around. But after I’ve been moving around for a bit, I feel so much better and warmer. My body is able to regulate itself easier. The best way I have found to keep myself motivated and moving is to start decluttering. Once you get the ball rolling, it’s easy to keep on going. Win, win!
9. Celebrate the seasons. Know that this season will not last forever. My daughter is the sentimental type that loves to decorate for every holiday and make a big deal about it. I, on the other hand, would rather bah-humbug them all and just forget about it. I mean really, what’s the point? Put all the decoration up only to have to take them all back down a couple of weeks later? Well, turns out my daughter is on to something. It helps break up the monotony of the season, especially the long cold ones. Besides, it revs you up in anticipation for what’s to come. National Cinnamon Roll day, anyone?
10. Plan your summer vacation. Look forward to the sunshine.
11. Create a mood pin board of uplifting quotes, images, and cute animals (or follow my Stress Less pin boards). It’s guaranteed to make you smile.
12. Look at Ikea showrooms online (yes, seriously!) Their bedroom gallery usually is full of pictures with sunlight streaming through gorgeously draped windows. Make sure to open the pictures up to view them at large scale for the full mood enhancing effect. Also, the “Discover” section in the free Aviary photo editing app is also very mood boosting. Looking at the photos people upload makes me feel so small in the world and my heart just melts in a happy and comforting way.
13. See a live play – college, high school or community playhouse. One of the best professional plays I’ve been to was a surprise date I took my husband on called Tony and Tina’s Wedding. It’s a fantastic, interactive play where the audience is part of the action. You will love every minute of it!
14. Fill your house with good smells and memories. Bake something. Put on your favorite perfume. Break out the fancy soaps.
15. Watch a favorite uplifting or funny movie. Go ahead and bust out some old school Bob Saget AFV or your own silly home videos.
16. Take a drive. I hate the cold but I get very cooped up in the house. Hubby runs errands while I stay in the car and surf my phone or listen to music and soak up the sunshine (in my perfectly regulated thermostat vehicle, thank you very much!)
17. Buy some fun print flannel sheets. There is nothing like peeling back your blankets and seeing a pop of cheerful print to make you smile.
18. Actively search for beauty. Don’t let negativity bog down your ability to appreciate the softly falling snow, the sunshine bouncing off the crystal icicles, the children gleefully leaping and bounding through the snow. Remember your childlike wonder and excitement that came so naturally when you were small. It’s still there, I promise.
19. Stay connected with those you love. Cozy down into the winter comfort of staying in and unplugged for a while but don’t hibernate. It may feel comforting to close yourself off totally from the world but it does nothing for your soul. It only feeds and reinforces your negative mood.
By proactively choosing joy and working for my happiness during a season of winter, I strengthen my soul and my confidence that spring will indeed bloom again.
Wishing you a lovely winter, filled with joy and childlike wonder.