This time of year, I find myself perpetually in a bad mood. It’s cold and gray outside, the holidays are over, and it feels as though summer will never arrive. I find that I want to simply curl up in my pajamas and do nothing all day. I retreat from friends, and then get mad because I feel isolated and lonely.
This year, I’m going to try and bust out of my winter blues and choose instead to seek happiness. Here are some things I’m going to try; see if they might work for you.
Number one: Start planning and dreaming
There is nothing like a good project to pull me out of a funk, even if that project is never likely to become a reality. Start a vision board — be it a real-life-paper-on-cork-board-one or a Pinterest creation. Plan the vacation of a lifetime, just for fun. Reinvent your dream wardrobe, even if it’s only on paper. Start a writing project – a journal, blog, or that novel you’ve always wanted to pen. Find something to get your brain thinking again. I know for me, the holidays were a non-stop sugar fest and I feel like my brain kind of goes to sleep when I eat poorly. Use this time of winter isolation to map out what you want the rest of the year to look like for you. Having a good project gives us hope. Hope springs us into action. Action makes us happy.
Number two: Be a productive hermit
If you’re going to spend these winter months hunkering down, make the most of them! I spent an entire weekend this month organizing and cleaning out my closet. Mind you, I was in my pajamas and had not taken a shower for the day, but I felt fantastic. I felt that I had accomplished something and had a tangible reward to show for my efforts. Take this time and work on your personal progress. Write that letter you’ve been meaning to send to your missionary brother. Don’t just lose hours of your life to scrolling mindlessly through social media. Be productive. Make the most of every day.
Number three: Say yes, even when you want to say no
This one is hard, but sometimes we just need to suck it up and say yes. When friends are getting together, join them. When your laurel class is meeting for ice cream outside of a Wednesday night activity, go. So many times, I want to stay home, but I often find that once I’m out and talking to people, I end up having a truly fun time. Force yourself to interact and socialize. It will help you not feel so alone, and will be an investment in worthwhile friendships.
Number four: Retreat, regroup, refresh
If, after all these suggestions, you find yourself still wanting to hunker down, then do it. Take these winter months and retreat. Take care of yourself and get your mental house in order. Use the time away to reflect on who you are, and who you’d like to be. Think of it as your time in the cocoon – it’s not forever, and when you emerge, be ready to spread your wings and fly. Sometimes, we all just need to regroup inside our own head. Just don’t stay there forever.
Number five: Get outside of yourself
Lastly, and the one sentiment that seems to be on repeat in our church, forget yourself and serve. I have never found anything that helps me forget my troubles like serving other people. No matter what my negative attitude is at the outset, I always feel better in the end. Always. There is a reason the Savior admonished us to love others and serve them. He knew that by losing ourselves in service, we actually find Him. And when we find Him, we find happiness.