Crazy Winter Blues Busters
By Julie Butcher-Fedynich
It’s that time of year again. The lovely sugar rush from the holidays is gone, replaced with the slow agony of dropping those cheesecake-filled pounds. White snow has gone to gray ice, the nip in the air stabs at your winter-dry skin, the walls are creeping closer, and I’m pretty darn sure the ceiling is at least six inches lower—which is creepy is its own special way.
The winter doldrums have struck with a vengeance, and the future is as dark as the January sky. Not having much in the way of green dollars, and being a work-at-home writer, I’ve had to get creative to beat the blues. Here are a few cheap, or free ways to help you back into the sunshine.
Toss all of the leftover candy canes in a crockpot with some water. Warm it up and let the delightful, as well as mentally stimulating, scent of peppermint invade the house. If you’ve scarfed the candy, (and shame on you) then throw in some cinnamon or use that last bit of flavoring in the bottle. Both scents enhance your energy and focus. I’m serious about this being a working thing guys and it’s free. The science stuff about this is here.
Rearrange the furniture. The tree is down so it seems like there’s more space now, right? Clean the heck out of the room. Kill the dust bunnies and hoover up the leftover holiday sparkles. A new environment ups your spirit and your productivity. You really might want to tell your partner if you do this—before they come home and fall over the couch—seriously. Luckily, now that I’ve been married forever, my husband checks furniture placement on a daily basis. This is also free (except you might want to have a couple of Advil handy).
One of my favorite winter blues-busters is a little bit on the crazy side. Okay, maybe a lot. When the house is too small and you’re ready to turn into Mommy or Daddy Dearest, hide behind a door and wait for a hapless victim. When they come down the hall, jump out, roar, and scare the living bejesus out of them. I’ll swear on whatever you think is holy that one high pitched scream will make you giggle off and on for the rest of the day. (Okay, yes, I’m warped.) Also you might want to take your Captain America shield in case they get the whole Fight or Flight thing mixed up and punch you in the nose. (Not fun.)
Use your freaking gift cards. I know that they’re oh so handy to have on hand when your child surprises you with a sudden birthday party, or if you forget Aunt Mabel’s 50th anniversary. The problem with storing them for emergencies is that since 2005, forty-one billion dollars in gift cards have not been redeemed. It is perfectly fine to use a present that was given to you—for you. Live a little, Guys. If you won’t possibly use a card to Bass Pro or whatever, you can sell it online, get green money, and buy what you want. Whoever gifted you the card wanted to give you happiness so use it for you.
We all know what your desk looks like because it looks like ours—and it’s not pretty. For goodness sake, go to the store and spend three dollars on a tub. Pile all of the notes, hand-outs, and old pictures in it, and tuck it under the desk. You can sort it later when you’re in a more rational frame of mind. The blues sap your attention span, and make everything seem impossible. (The sugar-crash from Christmas doesn’t help either.) The goal is to get you a fresh, clean work space in a short amount of time. When you have put the papers away, and cleaned up the pop cans and sprinkles, you’ll feel better. I promise. After you’ve stored all of the things, print out a happy picture or a motivational poster, and hang it up. Isn’t that nice!
Part of the reason that the blues blindside us so hard is that with the holidays gone, we have nothing to plan for. We’re floating in Limbo with nothing but cold and gray skies. Find something. It doesn’t matter whether you pick a trip, or a day of shopping, or a new book to read. You need a bright spot on the horizon, and a firm date when it will happen. Make sure to choose something that is totally possible, Guys. Not, “I’ll close this big deal by February 1st.” More like, “I’ll use my gift card to buy this audio book on February 1st.” Okay?
There are a million things you can do to boost your spirits. You’re creative, lovely people and you deserve to knock out the winter blues. It’s the little things, right?
By Julie Butcher-Fedynich