Beating the Winter Blahs

Home is better with a cat graphic

There’s a reason the winter blahs don’t usually hit until after the New Year: most of us are so busy from fall through the holiday season that we don’t quite notice how short, cold, and inhospitable the days have become.

But then, seemingly without notice, January is upon us, unleashing an almost intolerable desire to slip under the covers and stay there, burrowing deeper as the temperatures plummet.

Tempting as cocooning may be, the best defense against those dark-day blues is to take a page from your pre-holiday playbook and keep yourself engaged. Here are some ideas:

Social media may seem like a natural distraction from the weather, but research shows that spending more than about 30 minutes per day on socials can actually increase feelings of depression. Instead of scrolling, use your hands to create something unique like a loaf of yeast bread, a work of art (an adult coloring book can spur creativity), or a pen-and-paper letter to a friend.

Taking time out for self-care in the form of a massage or facial is more than a way to pamper yourself: the soothing atmosphere, rejuvenating power of a treatment, and chance to take a deep breath can give you a welcome boost of positivity.

Sometimes all it takes to get people out of their winter caves is an excuse. This year, give them one, by gathering your friends at your home or at a local restaurant. Even better, make it an event by uncovering something to celebrate, be it a group of birthdays or even Groundhog Day.

Feeling like the walls are closing in? Make some room by Marie Kondo-ing your closets, kitchen cupboards, makeup drawer, or whatever space in your home drives up your blood pressure whenever you think about it. You’ll get a lift from the sense of accomplishment and might even find a few things to donate.

Gloomy weather can lead to gloomy thoughts. Keep things in perspective by getting into the habit of jotting down good thoughts as they occur to you throughout the day. Not only will you find yourself becoming more aware of life’s sparks of light as they happen, but, as you review your journal, you might find that the memory lifts your mood as well.

Volunteering at a local soup kitchen, veteran’s home, or school isn’t just about the people you’re helping. By getting you out of the house and into a social situation, it forces you out of your lethargy as well.