The skies are a heavy, brooding gray. Forecast here in Colorado: 8-12 inches of snow, starting tonight.
It's easy to get discouraged, about this time. The old year is past. (Did you do everything you'd planned? Ha.) The new year has progressed enough to fail at something. And gray skies are the norm, more than the exception.
Time for strategies to beat the winter doldrums.
*Light something. Regular exposure to 'natural' light, via lamps, is a time-honored therapy for depression, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and a host of other mental issues. Light therapy can be implemented with specialty lamps, some which are reputed to help clear up wrinkles and acne, as well. Crafters swear by Ott Lites, which come in every size from desk to floor lamp.
There's an easier way to get a dose of light therapy: spend some time out in the sunlight. It stimulates the production of red and white blood cells, gives you a healthy of dose of Vitamin D...and the UV rays in sunlight are a natural antiseptic, fighting viruses, bacteria...yes, even skin breakouts!
Or light a scented candle, which brings us to the next point:
*Smell something. A study done in England suggests our brains "fire up"at the first whiff of cinnamon, giving us pleasant memories of cooking, apple cider and home. (The study also suggests cinnamon's odor also makes us willing to spend more money -- retailers like Trader Joe's displayed cinnamon-scented brooms at their store entrances during the holidays for just this reason!)
Some herbs, like lavender and chamomile, are a calming influence. Try them in a scented pillow, or just spray some lavender-scented freshener in your bedroom, for a peaceful sleep.
*Plan something. Take a trip -- or research a destination. (The sunnier, the better.) Redo your living room, or update your kitchen or bathroom. (Websites like the Nester, Thrifty Decor Chick and Funky Junk Interiors will help you do it with minimum cost -- often without spending a cent.) Many gardeners use this period to figure their garden space, and order seeds. Ask friends over for a Super Bowl party, or just coffee and a snack.
*Write something. Start a journal. What, you're not the literary type? Write a quick note or two to your favorite people. Tell them how much they mean to you. (They'll be thrilled.)
Or use your writing skills to:
*Save something. Start a regular savings plan, even if it means putting a fiver or your loose change in a mason jar every weekend. Get copies of your auto and/or homeowner's policies, and request some quotes. (One of our local insurance companies is offering $10 gift cards, just for letting them do this!) Save even more by joining Swagbucks, which pays you with 'Swagbucks' for requesting quotes -- as well as chances to accumulate more while doing your regular work. (Join by using the Swidget at right.) In a typical month, you could easily earn $5, $10 or more in Amazon and other gift cards.
And really...spring is not that far away.