Winter can bring even the most positive people down. It’s a good time for some pick-me-ups to soothe those winter blahs. Here are a few ways to perk yourself up for this last stretch until spring arrives.
1. Make garden plans. Check out gardening books from the library, start a garden journal, research choices for an edible garden, plan for seasonal color, make sketches and start ordering seeds. Round up your garden tools, pots and other supplies, and keep a list of things you’ll need for the spring so that you’ll be ready to go. It’s the next best thing to getting to dig in the dirt.
Don’t have a garden? Research community gardens in your area, or look into volunteering at a local botanical garden. Attend a local garden show or conservatory in the meantime, and make plans to visit a botanical garden or take a spring garden tour when the blossoms begin in your zone. It will be something nice to look forward to.
2. Force branches. It may be too early in the year for cutting perennials in your garden, but there is another way to get blossoms from your yard to use in bouquets. Flowering branches from woody shrubs and trees can be cut and forced to open. As the weather starts to warm, seek out branches with nice fat flower buds. Use pruners to cut the branches where they are a quarter- to a half-inch thick.
Then hammer the bottoms of the branches, or cut a 1-inch slit in each one, and put them in a bucket of lukewarm water mixed with floral preservative. Place them in a cool dark corner of the house, and change out the water every day or so. Within about a week, you should start to see color bursting from some of the buds, which means they are ready to be arranged out in the open.
In addition to giving you early garden blossoms, cutting the branches can be helpful garden pruning.
3. Hit a farmers market. Perhaps you’ve been intending to go to a local farmers market but haven’t quite made it yet. Now’s the time. Pull out a recipe you’ve been meaning to try before you go. You’ll be inspired to come home and cook new dishes, fill up your fruit bowl and mix up a smoothie with the fresh local ingredients you’ve scored. Treat yourself to a bunch of flowers or an herb plant while you’re there.
4. Switch up your at-home workout routine. Create a dedicated space (for some of us, this means moving the sofa, putting down a mat and stashing free weights in the closet, and that’s fine). Mix it up by streaming videos for yoga, high-intensity interval training, floor exercises, weights and resistance bands, pilates or dance. The endorphins will help chase the blues away.
5. Travel via a movie night. Right about now, many of us are dreaming of taking a trip. But if travel is not on the itinerary, take a trip vicariously through movies. Here are some of my favorites, and I hope you’ll add to them with your own in the Comments section.
Under the Tuscan Sun: Explore and settle in Italy’s Tuscany with a brokenhearted Diane Lane.
Wild: Endure a physically and emotionally grueling hike along the Pacific Crest Trail while sitting on your sofa.
The Way Way Back: Enjoy the summer nostalgia in a Massachusetts beach town that seems to be stuck in the 1980s. And be glad you’re not an awkward tween.
The 100-Foot Journey: Immerse yourself in a charming village, with delicious food, in southern France. Movie snacks are encouraged — this one will make you hungry.
Bread and Tulips: Escape your life and wander the narrow streets of Venice, Italy, for 114 delightful minutes.
Romancing the Stone: Look out for giant snakes, crocodiles and Danny DeVito in the jungles of Colombia (though this was really filmed in Mexico).
I’m putting Out of Africa on my own virtual travel list because I’ve never seen it.
If you’d rather attack wanderlust with films that will make you not want to travel one bit, here’s a list of movies with striking scenery that will make you happy you’re ensconced in a throw blanket at home: The Poseidon Adventure, Everest, Titanic, Spring Breakers, Backcountry, Alive, The Road, Dante’s Peak, Deliverance, Jaws, The Beach, The Edge.
6. Be a tourist in your own town. Look up activities, museums, zoos, aquariums, monuments and other interesting sites recommended for visitors, and pick one you’ve never been to before. If this is going to be an affair for the whole family, make a list and take a vote. Treat yourself to a coffee in that swanky new boutique hotel so that you can check out the artsy lobby. If your feet are tired, hop on a goofy tour bus — it’s a good chance to make new friends from other places.
Originally published at medium.com