It never fails. February rolls around, and it takes everything I have to get through it. For being the shortest month, it's always been the longest month of the year to me!
Winter is a time of beauty...until January 2nd, then I'm ready for Spring. This year, however, we enjoyed Spring-like weather through most of January here in Ohio. My mood was light, the kids played outside, and I fell into a false sense of being winter-free. My oldest daughter even commented that she noticed an air of happiness about me that she hasn't seen in past Januarys.
February hit with a vengeance, bringing with it sub-zero temperatures this week, followed by 15 inches of snow this week. While it's easier to stay holed up in the house, the demands of a family require us to brush off the car, warm it up, and jump in for trips to the grocery store, school, church, and the library. So aside from forging forth to brave the elements, what else can we do to fend off the seasonal depression that so many of us must manage? Here are some suggestions:
1. Teach yourself a new craft or hobby. Knitting is a wonderful hobby and very well-suited for the Winter months. As the project grows, it keeps you warm as it sits in your lap! Right now I'm working on a simple blanket for my son's fire (Dalmatian) puppy, and I plan to duplicate-stitch a fire truck on it when it's finished. I can watch a movie or listen to the radio while I knit or simply be with my kids while they play. Scrap-booking, stamping, crosstitching, baking, painting, and drawing are other ideas for those quiet days at home. I just finished making throw pillows for my kids' beds in fun fleece fabrics that they each chose.
2. Sit down and write an old-fashioned letter to a relative or an old friend. Emailing has turned many of us away from pen and paper, but sometimes it's nice to receive a hand-written note from someone. Why not you?
3. Try out a new recipe. Open up your favorite cookbook and choose something you've never tried before. Try all new side dishes, too, to make it a brand new meal for your family! You could even make this a weekly tradition.
4. Take pictures of your kids. Get your camera out, pull out some dress-up clothes, and take their pictures as they play. Don't forget to send copies to Grandma!
5. Put your closet on a diet. Take three trash bags into your closet, and see if you can fill them up with things that you haven't worn for over a year. You'd be amazed! Then, set the bags aside to take to a charity for those folks who cannot afford to buy them. Remind yourself how blessed you are to have such abundance.
6. Get moving. Dig out an exercise video or turn on a fitness channel and work your muscles for a while. It gets your heart pumping and releases endorphins which make you feel great, long after your routine is over!
7. Get outside. (What? This is supposed to be about dealing with cabin fever.) Yes, bundle up against the cold and get outside to breathe the air, even if it means adding a mere five minutes to your walk to the mailbox. The air will leave you feeling refreshed and thankful for the warmth of your home when you return.
8. Visit a nursing home and talk to the folks there. You'll be giving them a fresh face to enjoy and some friendly conversation. Add to that the fact that you'll feel good about yourself and better appreciate your youth and health.
9. Build a tent with your kids. Using the kitchen chairs and a large blanket, have a picnic lunch inside instead of eating at the table. Bring in books, a couple flashlights, and some easy-to-clean-up snacks.
10. Be a Winter gardener. Empty out an egg carton and plant some seeds. Water them and place them near sunlight for you and your children to enjoy. As they grow they'll need to be moved to larger containers. Kids love nature!
Most importantly, try to appreciate Winter for what it is. It is a season of rest for nature in anticipation of Spring. In order to appreciate the warmth, we have to have the cold. In order to enjoy the flowers, we have to endure our yards without them. In order to relish the freedom of being outdoors, we have to be able to enjoy the coziness of being inside our homes.
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