Saturday, February 7, 2015

10 Ways to Fight off Winter Blues

If you live anywhere near snow, chances are by this time you are very, very done with winter. The holidays have been over for weeks at this point, the new year has since lost its charm, and in the wake of red hearts and chubby cupids winter is becoming a drag. But don't lose hope! While bundling up in your fluffiest winter coat pales in comparison to the thought of a warm, relaxing week in Maui, you can beat the winter blues with a few of these winter-weather activities!

1. Instead of complaining about the yucky weather, embrace it!

Use it as a time to get caught up on the latest fiction novel, your own writing, or a start a new crafting hobby. Create a cozy space with your favorite throw, a pair of slippers, and a comfy chair. Next, if you have a fireplace, crank that baby up to set the tone for some perfect "me-time" for an hour or two. To finish the scene, pour hot chocolate, tea or coffee into a feminine mug. Final step? Enjoy!

2. Plan a family game night.

If you're feeling a bit dull and depressed from lack of sunlight, chances are the people you love are feeling the same thing. Spruce up the atmosphere with a family game night and create sunshine within your hearts! Invite friends, family and acquaintances for an evening of unabashed fun. Instruct everyone to bring their favorite board or card game and a munchie -- because it is absolutely impossible to have a fun time without food. Right?!

3. Get moving,

and try out a winter sport for fun! If you know me, you know this sounds absolutely ridiculous coming from my mouth. I am not a sports girl. At all. However, I have come to appreciate snow sports because after sitting inside for hours on end, it feels great to move around and get those endorphins (happy feelings) moving around the brain! Whether you're a cross-country ski pro, an amateur figure-skater or snow angel queen, get outside and move those muscles! Let the cold air bite your cheeks while you move about -- you may discover that the sun actually does shine while it's snowing and that it is one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see.

4. Join the gym.

Not to lose weight, but for similar reasons to #3 above. Studies show that when we are active, it releases chemicals to the brain that keep us content, happy, and satisfied. Binging on food high in sugars and carbohydrates may be a quick fix for those pesky winter blues, but exercising regularly creates longer-lasting results than food indulgences. Not to mention, it is much healthier, too! Who knows, it could even open a new sphere of people for you to bring Jesus to and also invite over to game night!

5. Go sledding.

Remember that shiny red sled you had when you were a kid? It brought you hours of joy and fun! Go grab the one in your garage, borrow your neighbor's kid's purple one, or just spend $20 at Target for a new one and head to the local hill. It may be a bit more scary now that you're older, but hold on for dear life and show those little kids how it's done!

6. Frequent your local coffee shop.

Admittedly, this can become expensive, but if you do it as a treat to yourself once a week or so, it becomes really special and a time to look forward to. If you do go to the same place at the same time every week, you'll notice the consistency of other customers, too. It's a place to form new friendships, build relationships, and ponder the world. Even if you don't drink coffee, you'll leave with an open heart and a sense of connection with others that may not even know.

7. Teach a Bible Study.

It's easier to get out of your own funk if you're helping someone to get out of theirs. After you have connected with someone at the coffee shop, the gym, or while sled riding, bring up your faith. People everywhere are looking for a spiritual connection, and yours may be just the one they have been hoping for. Open yourself up to share Jesus ~ prepare a quick Bible study that you can give at a moment's notice, one that highlights the plan of salvation, the creation of the world, and the apostle's doctrine. It will be an event that helps you appreciate what you have and reach out to a soul in need, too.

8. Go explore.

Yes, even if it's snowing. Even if it's cold. Bundle up, grab a friend, take some selfies and go! If you live in the city, head to a spot you may not be familiar with. Take advantage of free admission to museums and historical buildings. If you live in a little town, drive to the next town over and look for a hidden treasure; maybe a book shop, a thrift store, a local market, or a general store.

9. Take that snow day!

This may be a little difficult for some, but if you're still in school, college or are a teacher, take advantage of the snow day to do something that's been on your to-do list for far too long. Maybe baking those cookies for your elderly neighbor, cleaning out your closet and donating the unwanted items to a local charity or brush up on an old talent.

10. Cultivate a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Life is weird sometimes, and sadness/depression/boredom/winter blues can set in at any time. But if you keep your relationship with Jesus a priority, it will be easier to fight off those feelings of anxiety and unhappiness. Read your Bible, use a devotional, write in a journal. You'll find that those devotions will often be of use in your conversations with others and that other times they minister directly to your heart in a way that you didn't know you needed.

Nichole Criss is a music instructor & entrepreneur. She loves to read, travel and write. Visit her website and be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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