10 Little Things to Help Battle the Late Winter BLUES
Updated: Jan 18, 2019
It’s cold; it’s dark; it’s wet. And this side of the New Year there’s no Christmas to look forward to. And Spring seems forever away. To sum up: it’s a pretty shite time of year. It’s difficult to battle the all-encompassing January / February blues. Especially since so many insist on the militant and joyless dry January, and are on their post-Christmas-binge weight watching. In a grey, slated-sky London, this time of year can be rather grim.
However, this week I had an epiphany; and that epiphany was that this year I will NOT succumb to these blues. Even though I feel vampiric in my working life – it being dark both when leaving and returning to the house; and even though it feels that, at the moment, I only creep out of the bleak shell for weekend sunlight (sunlight perhaps being an optimistic phrase to describe this time of year’s weather in Blighty), I will think positively. I will not let this wretched time of year beat me like it usually does.
So I’ve tried to accumulate a list of small things that have helped (or are helping...?) me battle the January blues, and might help you too. A few might seem silly and trivial but, as they say, the devil is in the details. Or in this case, January's saving grace.
It's a cliche because it's true - much as it pains me to admit it. Exercise does make you feel better. So, the first thing to do is to get out and get walking. I’m slightly obsessed with those crisp wintry days (OK, fine, more than slightly), even if they're a bit scarce in the UK. But there’s nothing better than, on one of these days, wrapping up warmly and basking in the watery sunlight, allowing it to slightly dispel those pesky winter blues…
2. The Positive Mental Switch.
You’ve probably heard this before, but – at risk of sounding like one of those positivity gurus – I have to say there’s something about smiling that makes you feel better. Even if it’s minimally. Plastering a smile on my face seems fake at first but then it really does start to make me feel better. When our boiler was bust recently, with my fake-turned-real smile, I envisioned a switch in my brain, like a light switch - down being negative, up being positive - and decided to flip it up. And I'm sorry for the naff analogy but it seemed to work for me so maybe it will work for you.
3. Singing in the Shower Like Nobody’s Listening.
Even if I don’t feel like doing it in the first place, singing in the shower inevitably makes me feel better. I would bet money on the fact that belting out some show tune while dowsed with hot water improves anyone’s mood. This trick also works in the car, although obviously the acoustics aren’t as pleasant and echo-y and you have more of a potential audience, but who cares? If a stranger sees you singing at the top of your lungs in the car, you’ll probably cheer her/him up too…
4. Dancing in the Bedroom Like Nobody’s Watching.
Let’s be honest, dancing as if you have no audience is the best. It strips away any inhibiting self-consciousness. So turn up those tunes and dance the blues away.
5. Gummy Vitamin D’s.
YES there are yummy vitamin D supplements that are SWEETIES. They might be manufactured for children but I choose to ignore that; we’re all children at heart. And they hit two birds with one stone; you can satisfy your sweet tooth and get that dose of Vitamin D which you’re currently lacking from the sunless, wintry grey.
6. Spritzing the Flat with Flowers.
Just because the trees outside look dead, doesn’t mean that inside can be devoid of the summer colours. It doesn’t have to be extravagant; a little £5 Lilly of the Incas bouquet to bring a bit of colour back inside.
7. See a Penny Pick it up.
To confess, this isn’t wholly my idea. I read it once in a children's book and thought how delightful. If you’re one of those people who feels better from improving other people’s days then this one might be for you. Ever have the annoying coppers at the bottom of your purse? Just drop a few here and there so that others can see a penny pick it up, and all day long will have good luck. You might just help ever so slightly diminish another person's January blues.
8. Exact Change.
On the subject of change, I recently experienced the satisfaction of measuring out the exact change. (Yes I'm talking about pennies, not change as a verb/abstract noun.) This one might sound silly but the day before yesterday I bought a coffee that was £2.07 and I measured out the exact change. Yes, 7 separate pence pieces. I don’t know why, but it gave me a fair amount of satisfaction, and a soupcon of pleasure. Maybe because it’s so rare that I carry cash nowadays. Random and possibly ridiculous but yet another small dent to chip away at the blues.
9. Making a List of Monthly Favourites.
Whether it be a list of favourite songs; favourite books; favourite films - anything from entertainment to beauty products, and it can be as mundane as favourite kitchenware - having a little list of things like raindrops and roses that are a few of your favourite things can be a nice reminder of what makes you happy. Not to mention an efficient distraction from the cold and dark.
10. Appreciation Lists.
And while we're on lists, another way to bypass the blues is to list everything that you’re grateful for... those things about which we’re often complacent and that often get buried by the mediocrity of the every day. Whether it’s loved ones, the home you live in, or your pet, compile a list of everything you’re grateful for and if none of the above can help cheer you up, this definitely should.