10 Blues Busters

Until the first buds of spring arrive, winter can seem like it will stretch on forever. Here are 10 ways to shake up your day and stave off the winter blues a little longer

Vacation in bed. Go to a local newsstand or bookstore and pick up a variety of newspapers or magazines from cities around the world. The next morning, serve yourself (or get your spouse to serve you) a continental breakfast in bed: coffee or tea, orange juice, fresh fruit, and a croissant or brioche. Stretch out and read the international news. You might as well be in a Paris hotel room!

Dig out the china. Take a simple activity, like a meal or tea, and make an occasion of it. Pull out the nice dishes, light the candles, put on some classical music and enjoy your favourite food, ceremoniously.

Indulge a little — but not too much. Dark chocolate and red wine both contain stress-busting antioxidants — did you need further invitation? Invest in a high quality serving of each. But don’t overindulge as this will lead to a crash the next day!

Let the light in. Make sure you’re opening all your curtains and blinds as early in the day as possible. And even if it’s cold, get outside for at least a few minutes to stand in the sun. Other dark-beating strategies include getting a full-spectrum light to read in front of, or one of the dawn-simulating lights. Put in slightly brighter light bulbs (to save energy and energy costs, try the new fluorescents). And although it won’t help your body’s need for sunlight, using candles to create a warm glow at night can certainly lift the spirits.

Pick up the beat. Get out some of those loud, foot-tapping (or guitar-smashing) favourites, crank up the stereo, and dance as if no one’s watching (especially if no one actually is). Music can impact on mood, and the exercise is a great blues-buster.

Make a connection. Dig out your address book and try calling up an old friend or a far-flung relative. Catching up on news and sharing your own can be a real boost. Or if you’re feeling particularly energetic, look for a way to volunteer in your community. Reaching out to others can shake up your routine — and give you a real sense of accomplishment.

Find the tropics locally. Visit a local greenhouse or conservatory — or in some areas, even a local garden store that maintains a large indoor plant collection — for a reminder of spring. Other places to look for foliage include local zoos, or even the botany department of a local university.

Open up space. Staying indoors can make us feel confined. Take the time to clear a room of clutter and perhaps rearrange a little to make the space more open — face a chair so you can see out the window, or take out a coffee table to open up the floor. Or if that seems like too much effort, take an afternoon to visit an art gallery, church or temple, or even a beautifully designed hotel lobby or office building. And while there, look up and enjoy the sense of space.

Stretch out. Help your muscles release tension and address small aches and pains. Start a stretching, yoga, or Pilates routine at home, or by signing up for a class. Even 15 minutes a day can make a real difference.

Embrace the season. If all else fails — if you can’t beat ‘em, you may as well join ‘em. Get out for some winter fun, whether it’s a walk along a snowy trail followed by hot chocolate or a skate at the local ice rink. And if the forecast is for the dreaded freezing rain? Sit by the fire with a glass of cider — and keep counting the days.