This post is an oldie but a goodie, but since Punxsutawney Phil just saw his shadow I’d say it’s pretty relevant to many of us. So here are 20 Simple Ways to Combat the Winter Doldrums that many of us battle each year.

combat winter doldrums
They’re baaaaack! The winter doldrums have been in full force this winter. You’d think after writing about it this same time for the past two years, I’d be prepared to battle them head-on to avoid the funk, but it done crept up on me. It done did.

In an effort to regain some balance (and my brain), I sat down yesterday to make a quick list of some things that may help get defunkdefied. Below is a list of 20 simple ways to help battle the winter doldrums. By no means is it a complete list, so please, pretty please, add any ideas you have in the comments section.

20 Simple Ways to Combat the Winter Doldrums

  1. Plan a garden. This is the time of year to get that garden planned, and whether you live on a farm or an apartment, there is usually some way to grow something in your space. Get creative. Find a local nursery and ask what they suggest if you’re unsure of what works in your area. A small herb garden is always a good place to start if you’re new to gardening.
  2. Work a puzzle. A crossword puzzle, jigsaw puzzle, Scrabble, or similar. Did you know that puzzles require both sides of the brain to function? They engage the logistics of the left brain, and the creativity of the right brain, so when you get both sides working at the same time not only is it just plain good for the exercise of your brain, but it can help you be focused, more alert, and expand your creativity.
  3. Write a poem or song. Similar to puzzles, a poem will engage your creative right side, and the logistical left side by organizing the words, phrases, etcetera. Plus, for me it’s just fun and silly. If you’ve yet to see my infamous work, or just need a laugh, check this one out … I call it Scatter Brain.
  4. Scream therapy. Yesterday, while doing laundry, I stuck my head in the dryer and screamed. It was free. It helped a little. Although I freaked my kids out and possibly the birds nesting in the dryer vent, I felt a tad bit better, not to mention, silly. (I have no medical proof that this works, but try it and get back to me with your results.)
  5. Make something for someone else. Bake or make something for someone else, just because. Surprise someone with a batch of cookies, or knit a scarf for a friend, the local librarian or service person as a thank you, or just see them smile. Maybe attach a poem to it too. Not only is it nice, but it gets your hands and your mind working (that brain thing again).
  6. Change your perspective. I wrote about this a while ago. It’s simple and anyone can do it right where you are. Sit in a different chair, lay on the floor, take a walk, or drive a different route to work. Small changes in the way we see the everyday can make a big difference.
  7. Turn up the music. Discover new artists, or enjoy old favorites. Music can soothe the soul, or perk you up, and get you moving. Seriously simple, but one of the most important things that helps me move through the blues.
  8. Aromatherapy. Sometimes just a change in the air will do it for me. Light a favorite candle, simmer a pot of citrus stovetop, or, if you grow rosemary or other fragrant herbs, put a few sprigs in a vase nearby.
  9. Watch a comedy. Laughing can really change your outlook by relaxing you, and cause real chemical changes with the release of feel-good endorphins. Anyone catch that new “New Girl” show? Funny stuff.
  10. Eat citrus. If you’re a pirate you know the benefits that Vitamin C can have on your overall health and immune system. If you do a quick online search you’ll find several articles touting the benefits of Vitamin C on mental health. Makes those boxes of Cuties mandarins and clementines that I’ve been seeing in the grocery even that much cuter. Pass me a clementine, ARGH!
  11. Get some sunshine. Recently when I took my teenage daughter to the doctor for a routine checkup the doctor mentioned paying attention to Vitamin D. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin D does a body good, and you can get a good amount from sunshine. Do some reading (because I’m not a doctor or an expert on vitamins) and you’ll see how Vitamin D can really help, or, if you’re Vitamin D deficient, really hurt.
  12. Try something new. Whether it’s as simple as buying a strange fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before, or more involved as learning an instrument, doing the Zumba thing, taking up knitting, sewing (or gluing in my case), or carving a bear out of a log, try something new even if for just 15 minutes a day. Give it a go! It may be a new hobby that you’ll carry with you the rest of your life.
  13. Plan a vacation night at home. Choose a destination and make it happen at home. Maybe St. Lucia is your dream. Turn on some Caribbean music, plan an island inspired menu, and create a table setting with flowers and fruit for a nice change of pace. Possibly even finish the night off with a movie set in that destination. Have fun with it!
  14. Rearrange. We just rearranged our furniture. It confused our dog, but made me smile. If you can’t do that, buy some inexpensive pillows and/or throw, or house plant for a quick change.
  15. Bring the outside in. I always try to keep fresh flowers or green cuttings around in the summer, but it’s not always easy during the winter. Look for sticks, rocks, pine cones, evergreen branches to add interest to a table or counter, or a big bowl of fresh fruit to brighten things up.
  16. Move it. Yeah, you knew it would be on the list, but there’s good reason for it. Exercise, even a simple walk, increases blood flow throughout the body, and releases chemicals in the brain that may help your mood. And right now, my mood be needing the help y’all. Get moving, you’ll be glad you did.
  17. Volunteer. Helping others isn’t only … well, helpful, but it’s good to put your mind on someone else and what they need. Local libraries or schools may offer opportunities to read to children, nursing homes could use assistance in many ways, and pet shelters are always in need of another set of hands. Look for listings in your area for other ways to help out.
  18. Take a local tour. Check out your area for new shops, galleries, museums, aquariums, restaurants, and the like, and be a visitor in your town. You may be surprised at what you find right under your nose.
  19. Get a tuneup. Due for a haircut? Maybe it’s time for a new style, or a funky fresh manicure.
  20. Plan a party. Host a get together at your home, park, or restaurant. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Maybe just a coffee and game night for a few friends? Being with other people, outside of our work and regular routine, is fun and good for our mood.

Now it’s your turn. Share any creative ideas below in the comment section that you have to battle the winter blahs. Can’t wait to read them!

AND, I almost forgot, remember to smile, even if you don’t feel like it. It helps you feel better and those looking at you too.


ideas to combat winter doldrums


Updated 2/10/15. Originally posted 1/25/12.