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5 Ideas for Staying Happy in Winter
(Monday, March 17th, 2014)

5 Ideas to Stay Happy in Winter

It’s March and if you live in the Northeast, or anywhere for that matter, that has had its share of cold and snow this winter, you’ve probably about had it.

We have experienced more than our fair share of days with temperatures below freezing and numerous snow storms on top of that. As I sit at my desk and look out at the snow in my yard which has become dirty and brown, I too long for spring. I can’t honestly remember if the groundhog saw his shadow or not, or how much of this cold and snowy weather we are still in for. I do know if I want to enjoy each day, that my experience is my responsibility, and how I react to the weather is in my control. I may not have a say over whether it will snow again, but I do control how I deal with it. Like me, you have a choice. You can moan and groan and become a couch potato and be cranky every day or you can make the most of what you have and be happy. With that said, I have put together some fun and simple ways to beat the winter blues. You may be stuck inside and see no promising signs of spring, but that doesn’t mean your mood has to suffer too.

1. Get Creative:
People always tell me that they wish they could be more creative. Well I’m here to tell you that you can. Instead of becoming comatose in front of the television or your computer because it is too cold to go outside, think back to the crafts and fun things you loved as a child. Did you like to doodle, make model airplanes or scrap book? What about cooking or baking? Is there a new recipe you’ve been wanting to try? Why not reconnect with your inner child and indulge in one of the previously mentioned activities. At 49 years old, I still love to color and make collages. Last month I created my new vision board (A vision board is a visual representation of your goals made up of pictures cut out of magazines and glued onto poster board). Creating my board filled me with glee. During the process I was having so much fun that one night I couldn’t stop cutting and glueing to go to sleep. I ended staying up way past my normal bedtime, and when my project was complete, I stood back admiring it like a proud school girl. What activity can you do that will excite, motivate and inspire you?

2. Bundle Up and Go Outside:
Yes, you heard me right. With the right clothes, you can feel warm even on the coldest of days. The fresh air will make you feel alive and the a good walk in the woods will connect you with your true self again. One particular snowy day this year I had just finished shoveling my driveway for the umpteenth time. I came back in the house and sat at my desk looking out the window. I admired how sparkly the snow looked that day with the sun shining on it, and thought about taking a snowshoe. I live right near a state park and I can literally walk out my front door and be there. I found myself making excuses -I had too much to do, it was too cold, I didn’t feel like going alone. Blah, blah, blah. I then decided to call my 90-year old friend Kaya to see how she was doing in the snow. Kaya answered her phone in an upbeat tone. She spoke of how the snow sparkled like diamonds and was fluffy as dust on her deck. Then she said something that hit me right between the eyes. She said, “I only wish I was 50 again.” Those words struck me so strongly that I hung up, gathered my snowshoes and got myself out to park. Oh what a lovely time I had. The snow was so fresh that my tracks were the only ones. The feeling of walking through that light dusty snow that day gave me a tingle and a true high in my body. I got back to my desk feeling refreshed and rejuvenated with a clear sense of purpose. If the sun is shinning, make the time, get the right clothes and don’t let a cold day keep you inside.

3. Fill a Vase with Flowers
Everything has energy from the chair you are sitting on to the bird outside your window. In the winter most of the plants and trees outside have gone dormant, lost their leaves and are brown and dried up. The energy that a plant or a flower can bring into your home can help raise your spirits. I love tulips in the winter, but any living plant will do.

Come to think of it, my amaryllis brought me so much joy this winter as it continued to bloom through February. One day I found myself complaining about something and then I just looked over at these huge red flowers opened so wide and magnificent, and I thought to myself; it seems as if they are smiling at me. I thought, even if I never noticed them, they would beam their beauty out into the world. It was then and there, I decided to stop complaining and beam bright like the flower. Bring the magic of flowers into your home and see what happens.

4. Tackle a Project You Wouldn’t Want to To Do on a Sunny Day
Organize a closet, create a picture album, construct some new playlists to listen to or go through all your clothes looking for things to donate. You probably have a million little projects you always wish you had the time to do, but never seem to find the time to do them. Use the colder days of winter to do just that. I recently decided to go through all my pictures. At first I found this a bit overwhelming. It is so easy to collect hundreds of pictures in a digital age. I gave myself a time frame of only pictures from 2013 which narrowed things down and made my project more manageable. I used iphoto on my MAC and created an album of the highlights of the past year. When my finish product arrived in the mail, I was so happy and delighted with the end result. I decided to make this my new first quarter tradition. At the beginning of each year, I will make an album of the previous years photos. I felt good making the album and I felt good once I completed it. The good news is that the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing a project like this will last long after you have completed it. So what are you waiting for?

5. Take Action on Your Goals
In my book, Happiness is a Habit – Simple Daily Rituals That Increase Energy, Improve Well-Being and Add Joy to Every Day , I write about the importance of having goals. Having a goal that you are working towards gives you hope and something to strive for. Most people are so excited to set new goals in January and have already lost their enthusiasm by the end of the month. What new goal have you always wanted to achieve? What one small step you can take right now to get you there? If you are one of those people who have already abandoned your New Years Eve goals, it is never too late to take a step in the right direction.

These are just a few ideas on how you can brighten up your mood on a cold dark day. The biggest lesson I would like you to take away is that you and you alone are responsible for your experience. The weather is going to do whatever it decides to do, but you have a choice on how you let it affect you. Make the decision to be sunny on the inside no matter what is happening outside your door.

Love & Light,

Michele

To learn more about how to adopt happy habits for yourself, check out Michele’s book, “Happiness is a Habit: Simple Daily Rituals That Increase Energy, Improve Well-Being and Add Joy to Every Day.”