Winter Blues Busters: Happiness Generators To Help You Push Through

Winter BluesWinter in Iowa is hard. The lack of sunshine, outdoor activities and gatherings can have you feeling down in the dumps during a normal year. Add the second year of a global pandemic, political leadership changes, an economic crisis, and civil unrest – it’s a small miracle we’re sane.

Even acknowledging these feelings hasn’t been enough to prevent slinking back into a “funk”. I’m just over everything: the pandemic, cold weather and snow, being stuck in our house, not seeing friends and family as much as we’d like, etc.

One word summarizes the entirety of my mental state: Blah.

While speaking with family, friends, and coworkers, I get the sense I’m not alone. 2020 has seeped over into 2021 and we’re all over literally everything.

I could just sit here and feel sorry for myself. So could you. To be entirely honest, some days I do. I’m not mad about it. However, I’m also trying to take ownership of my state of mind and behaviors that exacerbate these feelings. I’ve committed to take small actions every day and engage in activities that are tried and true winter blues busters. So far, it’s helping.

So, I’m here to help with a few happiness generators to help you bust through those winter blues.

I’m a creative at heart, so most of my blues-buster activities involve art. That said, let me correct a misnomer – you do not have to be “artsy” to enjoy art. Even if you disagree, trust me on this one long enough to give at least one of the ideas below a try. Bonus points if you have kiddos and extend these activities to include them.

Some of my favorites:

  • Doodling – let your mind go and allow the pencil/pen to lead the way.
  • Art journaling – doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Yes, this might sound juvenile, but I promise it’s also relaxing. Start small by outlining days of the week, stickers, to-do lists, etc.
  • Drawing – I’m a big fan of creating art from life. Grab an apple out of your fridge and let your inner artist free.
  • Painting – don’t worry, no Picassos required. Watercolor is my current favorite. As one of the most forgiving mediums, grab a few cost-effective supplies and give it a whirl. Remember, it’s just paper (you should still recycle )!
  • Writing – a favorite in our house consists of an exercise we call “round-robin storytelling,” which involves one person starting a story with a single sentence. The next person adds to the story with an additional sentence. You go around and around until the story is completed.
  • Crafting – my current obsession: all things Cricut. I’ve happily fallen down the rabbit hole, but have to say I’m glad I did. I’m finding so much enjoyment out of trying new projects, creating my own iterations of products I might have otherwise purchased, AND roping the kids into participating. Keep in mind, a Cricut is not required to have fun. Jump on Pinterest and search for activities using supplies you already have around the house.
  • Reading – much of my job involves reading, editing, writing, etc. so at the end of most days in 2020 I felt too burnt out to read more. So I thought. A goal for 2021 remains to commit to reading at least 10 minutes every night. So far, I’m on my fourth book.
  • Exercise – yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this goes without saying and is on everyone’s list. I whole-heartedly agree. Again, start small. Walk around your block, house, or bedroom. Anything to get your body moving during these long winter months will help.
    • Struggling getting yourself up and/or having energy? Try writing down your commitment to be fit in a calendar, planner, or even notebook. Once you’ve made the mental commitment to yourself, you’re much more likely to follow through.
    • In a rut? Try out a new gym, class, or video/stream.
  • Face-Time a family member you haven’t seen or even make a phone call once a week. This does wonders for your own mood and is sure to provide the recipient with a nice boost, too.
  • Clean (if you enjoy it!) and/or reorganize – I tend to purge post-Christmas. A toy goes in, another goes out. This could also be a great way to earn a few bucks by selling unwanted items on social media or in consignment stores. Better yet, donate!
What are your favorite tips for pushing through the winter blues?

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Amber grew up Eastern Iowa. Coe College brought her to Cedar Rapids, but her love for the city and community made her stay. She and her husband of 15 years, Shannon, share a home in Marion with their two children (13 year old daughter & 10 year old son). Her passions include outdoor activities in our city’s many parks and trails, exploring unique, locally owned business, as well as all things creative. If you ask her about her bucket list, she’ll share endless travel destinations! Amber spends her days as the Director of Fundraising Marketing, leading a talented team of creatives for nearly 18 years. She is also a devoted advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and other underrepresented causes.