How to Lose Those Winter Blues and Blahs
So the cold weather is finally here – and we retreat like hibernating bears to our warm caves, except for necessary forays to the workplace and to hunt and gather food. Those caves can be awfully comforting when the weather outside is frightful, but indoor living can also lead to the blues or even depression. What to do?
The trick is to commit to doing something outside the cave. Something that you enjoy or care about enough to motivate you. Something that makes you want to get up and out of your cave and participate in the vibrant, real world. Here are some tried-and-true ways to fight back against that winter inertia and expand your mind/life at the same time:
- Take a class: Find a seminar, talk or class in something that you’ve always wanted to explore. Jazz, female writers, movie making, screenplay writing, jewellery making. Take it seriously and it might lead to a whole new career. At the very least, you’ll meet people who share your interest and expand your social circle. If you’re in NYC, The Center for Social Innovation and the 92Y are both really good places to start looking.
- Volunteer: Local hospitals welcome volunteers to read to the elderly or children. Churches and community groups are eager to recruit people to help out in soup kitchens and take elderly folk to appointments. Animal shelters need help to walk dogs and socialize potential pets so they have a better chance at getting adopted. By helping others you will also be helping yourself, and the rosy glow of your cheeks will be matched by the rosy glow of your virtue.
- Join a club: Doesn’t matter what kind – book club, knitting circle, music lovers, birders. Anything that you enjoy sufficiently to motivate you to leave your cozy cocoon. Being part of a group involves a commitment to that group, and the guilt about not showing up might be enough to propel you through the door of your cave. Or start a club in your own cave so you don’t even have to leave.
- Be a temporary dog or cat owner: There are organizations that match volunteers with dogs and cats for various periods of time (called “fostering” – here’s more on that). This can also afford you the chance to find out if you would like to have a pet of your own, and meaningfully help out a local shelter. Research suggests that pet ownership leads to better mental and physical health, and the popularity of cat and dog videos on social media reveals how much all our hearts are opened by these furry beauties.
- Find a tai chi class: For those who can’t or don’t want to yoga, tai chi is a marvelously graceful, meditative form of exercise. And if you crave something more aggressive, tai chi has a martial arts side you can gravitate to.
And a few more just for fellow New Yorkers:
- Explore NY: This wonderful city of NY has an ever-changing roster of events on offer daily, many of them free. Every Friday, the Weekend section of the New York Times lists a variety of things to do in all five boroughs. Concerts (rap, pop, classical – take your pick), movies, museums, comedy clubs, plays, walking tours – they’re all here. Arrange to do them with a friend so you don’t chicken out.
- Check out the new Whitney Museum: It’s crammed with young and interesting looking people and the art is amazing. Then walk the High Line to see your city from a whole new perspective.
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge: Why? Why not? It’s a fun thing to do that many tourists enjoy but locals don’t think to experience. And Brooklyn Park at the other end is awesome. End up by taking the ferry back to Manhattan and see your city from the water. It will make you proud and happy that you live here.
When all else fails and the winter blues persist… Count your blessings, plan a spring trip, and remember what the poet said – “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”