5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Unless you hail from somewhere that’s warm year-round (in which case, let’s be friends), the winter months can bring about a longing for sunnier days and a restlessness that even a Netflix marathon can’t easily cure. Here are 5 ways to keep the winter blues at bay, without breaking the bank or moving to the tropics.

1. Plan your summer: Winter is an ideal time to start thinking about how you want to spend the summer ahead. Plan a road trip, find the best hidden beaches, or dig out some juicy summer reads that you didn’t get to last year. Don’t worry about whether you’ll do everything or not– planning is half the fun! And the sandals and sunglasses frame of mind when there’s still snow on the ground doesn’t hurt either.

Tip: Save as you go. Make a summer fund that you set aside for each week. By the time you’re in full “Let me sip that by the pool” mode, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Write letters: Letter-writing seems to be a lost art in today’s tech savvy world. But there’s something soothing about sitting down with pen and paper to get your thoughts out instead of spontaneously hitting send dozens of times a day. Not only is this a great way to stay in touch with faraway friends, it’s an enjoyable way to sharpen your writing skills. As for the person who gets a handwritten note with your name at the end, they’ll be grateful that you took the time to share a bit of your life with them in a tangible way, and it will likely stick around their memory (and mementos) longer than a text message.

Tip: Consider including photos, magazine clippings, or some art. Spice it up!

3. Cook for yourself, or someone else: Winter brings out my appetite for home-cooked meals in a big way. My kitchen energies are usually spent on the sweet side of things, but there’s nothing like a homemade soup to restore the balance. What’s your cool weather go-to? If cooking’s not your forte, find a local soup kitchen where you can volunteer your time, or whip up something fun with a friend.

Tip: Schedule a weekly dinner and ask each guest to bring a dish to share. Take turns playing host, and create a new menu theme each week.

4. Invest in small indulgences: Shorter days can seriously cramp anyone’s style. To keep your spirits high when the longer nights kick in, find small ways to treat yourself each week or month. Buy something simple like fresh flowers or a new candle; rent a movie that just came out; get some warm wool socks or cozy slippers; go away for a weekend, or just a day. There’s no need to spend a lot. A small splurge can go a long way.

Tip: Mark “Treat yourself” days on your calendar. Don’t plan ahead what you’re going to do– surprise yourself when the day comes.

5. Add some green to your space: When branches are bare and temperatures drop, it feels like spring can’t come soon enough. So why not bring a bit of fresh life inside? Succulents make a bright addition to any living space and are easy to care for year-round. While some require direct sunlight (and lots of it), others can get by with less. And bonus, most require water only once a week, making them easy to care for if you’re new to the scene or lack a green thumb.

Tip: Visit your local nursery or home and garden store to chat with an expert. They’re full of tips and tricks and won’t let you leave empty-handed.