Now that the holidays are over, there is no getting around the fact that there is still a long winter to get through. Even in a pandemic, planning for holidays was a distraction from the fact that we are mostly still stuck at home, missing close contact with family and friends.

Now, though, I fear that even for those of us who are more naturally optimistic and flexible, the winter might get long. So, here are nine ideas for managing hard days to prevent hard weeks.

Take Time for Yourself

Even if you are holed up together with someone(s) you love, at times you need to be alone. Don’t feel guilty if you need some space.

Even if you are in a small space, you can lock the bathroom door and indulge in a warm, soak-y bath. Or put headphones on to drown out the family noise for a bit. Or take a walk around the block unattended.

Read a Great Book

Reread a classic, maybe? Or download a recent title that you are interested in. I inadvertently signed up for an audio book service and before I canceled it, I downloaded a few books.

I wasn’t sure I would enjoy listening to a book, being a page turner. As it turns out, listening to a good book is better than trying to find something edifying on the radio when I am driving!

Watch a Funny Movie

I usually tend towards drama and action, but laughter is good for the soul. In our house, what is funny to one is not always humorous to another, but the three of us (husband, Joel, adult son who has Down Syndrome, and myself) found ourselves laughing out loud while watching the Christmas Chronicles.

It was fun and lightened the mood. Joel very much has enjoyed the Andy Griffith Show and even though it is definitely not PC by today’s standards, we find ourselves laughing at Barney’s antics or Opie’s comments.

Send a Letter to Someone You Appreciate

Instead of feeling isolated, reach out. I have had a practice that if someone comes to mind in a special memory, I reach out to tell them.

Sometimes, I write a letter and snail mail it, or I might just send an email. A phone call works, too. Telling someone else how they have been special to you will make their day… and just might make yours, as well.

Seek Inspiration

Sometimes inspiration just happens. An idea comes out of the blue or a memory spurs action that has wonderful results. Other times, most, maybe, inspiration is the result of a search or research.

Google is such a grand source of information that can lead to inspiration. Give yourself some time to follow your curiosity on the Internet and see where it leads. Find a new recipe. Try a new hobby. Take a course online.

Listen to a Happy Song (and Sing Along)

It doesn’t matter how well you sing. It matters that you join in and that you enjoy making a joyful sound. Childhood favorites? Teen idol oldies? Silly camp songs? Find some songs that will make you smile.

Plan Something for the New Year

We were gifted a box of oyster mushrooms. Well, we’d never had them, so we had to search for what to do with them. But we loved them! Inspired by our taste buds, we researched how to grow them and found that it is possible on a small scale. Now we have four logs inoculated with mushrooms – shitake and oyster.

They take a looong time to “bloom,” so we can look forward to the fruit of our labor next summer/fall and that gives us hope on several levels. We also were just given some interesting root vegetables that were locally grown. We will try them and see about planting our favorites this year.

Write About How You Feel

I have been a journal keeper for the past 40 years. I have always written in my journal about major life lessons so I could return to them to remember accurately. They were super helpful in writing my first book, Which Old Woman Will You Be?,and so are they now, as I work on my second book.

I have less to record now as my life has slowed and evened out, but I make myself continue to make time to write in my journal. I know that I will return to what I record to remember accurately what we are now experiencing. Writing how I feel during this challenging pandemic helps me now and will help in the future as I recall.

Remember That Seasons Change (and So Will You)

We didn’t know in March 2020 that we would still be restricted 10 months later. But we made it through spring when the birds returned and the garden got planted and the trees leafed out.

Then, we enjoyed summer when the garden grew and the trees gave shade and birds had baby birds learning to fly.

Fall came and we saw birds leave on their migratory routes and we harvested the last of the tomatoes and watched the trees’ leaves change to vibrant reds and yellows and oranges.

Now, winter is here. The trees are bare. The birds that stayed visit our feeders, especially on snowy days. The garden sits dormant.

But the solstice has passed, so the days are slowly getting longer. We have plenty of split wood for the fireplace that is cozy and warm. We know that spring will come and the bare trees will leaf out, and the seeds we’ve ordered will arrive and be planted. Soon, we will clean out the bird houses to be ready for the next generation.

We’ll make it through this just as we have made it through the past 10 months. With intention and purpose, even if tempted to succumb to the dark and dreary cold of winter, we can make it through with grace and hope and be stronger as a result.

Have you stumbled into gloomy days? What do you do to get out of the blues? Are there activities specific for your climate that you particularly like? Please share in the comments below.

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