I don’t know about you, but the cold weather really bums me out. Once the holidays are over and the “New Year optimism” has worn off, I just want to hibernate until springtime. If the season has you feeling down, here are some suggestions to help you get out of the winter funk:
1. Escape into someone else’s story.
Winter is a great time to curl up with a great book or catch up on your Netflix. Sometimes I like to immerse myself in a nice beach read or a summer movie so I can remind myself what summer feels like. Also, it’s always nice to live vicariously through my favorite protagonists anytime I’m feeling down. Being indoors will give you an opportunity to read those books on your shelf that you’ve been meaning to get to or start that new television show your co-worker’s been telling you to watch forever. Or you can bust out your old favorites. Nothing cheers me up like reading Harry Potter or watching an episode of Friends (for the millionth time).
2. Get plenty of exercise and eat nutritious foods.
Exercising can reduce stress, increase your energy level, help you get better sleep, and improve your health all around. This is the perfect time to try that new cardio kickboxing class you’ve been wondering about or zip up your jacket and go for a hike. Try out some yoga with a video in your living room or find a Pilates class near you. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can definitely boost your mood. Try adding more fruits and vegetables that are rich in the antioxidants to your diet, and be sure you’re getting enough vitamins (especially Vitamin D), carbohydrates, and proteins.
3. Learn a new skill or begin a new hobby.
Just because you may be stuck indoors doesn’t mean you can’t try something new! Perfect your Spanish language skills, learn to knit or crochet, try out some DIY or crafty projects you see on Pinterest, become a master chess player, start writing that novel you always think about, experiment with exciting new recipes, start a YouTube channel or a blog, the possibilities are endless.
4. Try meditating.
Meditation is shown to decrease stress levels, increase serotonin production (which will improve your mood), and it will help you find clarity and peace of mind. Don’t know where to start? Listen to some relaxing music on Spotify or look up guided meditations on YouTube. There are tons of books on the subject (The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh and Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield are both great) or free resources online (like these free guided meditations from UCLA) that will help you get started.
5. Start coloring.
Coloring books aren’t just for children anymore. Recent research has shown that coloring can actually be an effective way for adults to relax and combat stress. You may find that using the bright, vibrant colors will boost your mood. It might spark your creativity and inspire you to get artistic in other ways or it might just be a way to relax, have fun, and remember what it felt like to be a child. Sometimes we could all use a little more child-like joy in our lives!
6. Start a game night.
It’s easy to be antisocial during the colder months. One way to get social is to have your friends over for a game night. Bust out Taboo, Apples to Apples (or the raunchier Cards Against Humanity), Scrabble, or Balderdash and let the fun ensue. There are also lots of suggestions for games available on the internet. Or you could get really creative and make one up. Make it a weekly gathering to give yourself something to look forward to during the week.
7. Embrace the season.
Winter may not be everyone’s favorite season, but there are certainly good things about it. Whether you are having a snowball fight, enjoying a cup of hot chocolate, or simply appreciating the number of awesome scarves in your winter wardrobe, try to find the joyful moments that winter brings. You can’t escape the season so you may as well find ways to enjoy it.
(I should note that while these suggestions may boost your mood and help you get out of the wintertime blues, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, you may have seasonal affective disorder. If you are feeling depressed almost every day for the majority of the day, you should seek help from your doctor.)
Sara Crawford is a writer and musician from Atlanta, Georgia. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Her upcoming debut young adult novel is called The Muses. Learn more about her at http://saracrawford.net.