This has been an unusually tough winter for those of us who live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the beauty that a snow-covered landscape provides, enough is enough! After a while the doldrums set in. The once pristine beauty of new-fallen snow gives way to the ugly yuck and muck of grimy mountains of snow piled high in parking lots or along street curbs. Walking becomes treacherous as one navigates the snow and ice-covered sidewalks. Getting out of the house is more burdensome than liberating as layer upon layer of clothing is piled on before we even set foot out the door. Cabin fever is epidemic. The kids are home from school and we are all driving each other crazy! Yikes! I depress myself just thinking about it! So, to banish the doldrums, I put on my thinking cap and came up with a list of things to do that might put us in better spirits.
- Take a walk. Fresh air and sunshine does something physiological that lifts our spirits. By now most parks have shoveled walkways which makes walking possible and enjoyable.
- Bake something. Baking, besides being creative and aromatic, warms the heart…and tastes good too!
- Read. Sometimes a good book helps us leave the doldrums behind as we get caught up in a good story.
- Clean house. Yes, clean house. The energy it takes to clean is not only good for us, the end result will lift our spirits for sure.
- Call or visit a friend. Spending time with someone else helps us get our mind off our problems, which is a sure-fire doldrums buster.
- Volunteer. Many people are worse off than we are and can always use our help. Whether it be volunteering for an organization, or offering to help a neighbor shovel their sidewalk, or pick up something for a shut-in at the drug store, you will feel better.
- Sew, knit or crochet. When the creative juices flow, the doldrums are out the door! Besides, it’s nice to have something to give to someone, even if it’s a simple pot-holder, or short scarf.
- Write. Another creative activity, this one keeps our brains active, and you might discover that there is a latent author just waiting to be set free!
- Write an old-fashioned letter! No email or texting or tweeting allowed. No facebook or myspace, just an old-fashioned letter. Fill it with the trivia of the day: weather report, kids activities, what you are reading, newsy things that “Mom“ is always interested in. Then MAIL IT to someone you miss. We all love to get snail mail, but we’ve lost the art and connectedness that writing brings. What a pity. You will feel GREAT if you do this one, so will the person who receives the letter.
- Learn something new. Learn another language, learn a new software application, learn a new trade, take a class, learn to dance….just learn, learn, learn!
- Do it! Make a list of things that must get done, but that you don’t like doing, then do one or two things from the list. Just DO IT!
- Art. Paint, draw, mold. Color with crayons. Cut out snowflakes. Make a collage or a mobile. Then display your creation for your family to enjoy!
- Do something nice for someone, and KEEP IT A SECRET, even from the recipient of your good deed. Hard to do, but incredibly uplifting when done.
- Call the kids. Play with the grandkids. Call Mom and Dad.
- Go out for ice cream with your spouse or best friend. Even in cold weather, this one is fun, and one of my husband’s and my favorite “dates.”
- Watch an uplifting movie.
- Take a luxurious bubble bath (guys, you can do this too!)
- Exercise. Remember Jack Lallaine, the calisthenics guru? He is in his 90’s now and going strong! Calisthenics are a real pepper upper.
- Drink lots of water. Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue, drowsiness, lack of energy, depression. Drink. Drink. Drink. You’ll feel better.
- Photography. Experiment with the camera. Take pictures of everything. Try creating a photo journal, a series of pictures of patterns in nature, or particular color schemes, or landscape photos of your favorite park. Make a photo album of your kids, one for each child. Be bold, different, silly. You’ll surprise yourself at what you create.
- If it is a rainy day, have a picnic on the living room floor! Even if the kids are grown and gone, this can be quite fun….and silly, which is important for chasing the doldrums away. And the nice thing about it is that there are no ants!
- On a sunny day, make a picnic at a nearby park.
- Meditate or pray.
- Dance. Close all the curtains, lock all the doors, put on your favorite music…loud….and dance to your heart’s content. Wear something bright and colorful, the more outrageous the better, and just go to town with the dancing! Make up a new dance. Make weird faces while you dance. Just dance!
- Offer to baby-sit for a young parent who may need an hour or two for her/himself. Once you’re a grandparent, playing with kids can be more fun. Don’t forget how tiring parenting young children can be. So, have some fun and give a young mother (or father, but usually the mother) a break.
- Read children’s books. Look at the pictures. Imagine what kind of story you would write for children, and what kind of pictures you would use to illustrate the book. Then do it for your grandchildren (or children.) Doesn’t have to be great, just heartfelt.
This list could go on and on, but you get the picture. With a little creativity, we can all come up with ideas to chase away the doldrums, ideas that not only enrich our lives, but energize our spirits, too. So, the weather outside is frightful, but we can always choose the delightful, and these doldrums busters are just the beginning!