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Lift Your Spirits
Share your tips with other readers.

Here are some spirit-lifting tips that readers have sent in. They were written to address winter doldrums, but many apply at any time of year. We keep collecting more, so let us know what works for you.

  • Make time EVERY SINGLE DAY to do something that brings you joy.
    -Elaine Boudouris

  • Put on music and dance, dance, dance.

  • Have been listening to music; CDs and even old records I'd forgotten I have. What a boost to the soul.
    - J. Martin

  • At school we have special lamps to provide extra sunlight. It helps when the days get really short. People have different needs for daylight, and if you need more sunlight, this can be a real plus.

  • It's pretty uplifting to get a facial. Or I do a home spa with pedicure and the works.
    -Kathy Z.

  • I take a walk outside even in the cold since it's invigorating and warming. Good to be outdoors.

  • We watch old movies. Fun to share some of the classics with our 10 year old.

  • Making a huge pot of beef stew with lots of root vegetables like potatoes turnips, celery root and onions and carrots. Until modern times these were the only vegetables available in the winter, and make a stew that is especially fitting to the season. Such an endeavor can involve the whole family in peeling and chopping, and can often lead to bread-baking. Our nine year old has also recently mastered the art of making her own butter by shaking a small container of heavy cream in a jar-- great on the bread!
    -Bruce Palmer

  • Buy an indoor flowering plant. Crocuses are in bloom.

  • Start keeping a journal. It can be just a few lines a day if you don't have time for more.

  • Each year at this time I volunteer to do a cooking project at my son's school. It always lifts my spirits to be around the kids and it's fun getting to try out different recipes.

  • Following "March Madness," the college basketball playoffs that lead to the Final Four, is a great diversion. You can find a draw sheet in the newspaper and track the wins as 64 teams compete in a strategically-structured series of games. It's a great way for kids to learn about geography and the amount of math involved is staggering. (go to March Madness and Math to learn more.)
  • As the parent of an infant I've found the winter can be really isolating. It's important to maintain contact with other people, especially other new parents via phone or e-mail and to get outside and see friends and family as much as possible even if it takes ages to get ready and means traveling with enough gear for a world tour.
    -Patty T.

  • One thing I love is to go to the museum. At big museums there's such diversity to the exhibits that there's something for everyone.

  • As the mother of 3 children I have virtually no downtime when I get home from work, but I've recently turned my bus commute into what feels like a mini-vacation by reading novels-- in commuting-length installments!
    -Cheryl Gotthelf

  • Have found the library an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon with my children, ages 3 and 5. They look at the picture books, I read to them and sometimes there's a storyhour. It's a good indoor activity for winter.

  • I do more aerobic exercise so I don't get lethargic.
    -Marlene W.

  • I wear red. On really dreary days I wear bright yellow.
    -M. A.

  • Most of us spend way too much time indoors at this time of year. I try to get my kids and myself out into the fresh air to get a little exercise and whatever sunlight we can catch.

  • Get in contact with someone you haven't spoken to in a long time.It's easy to lose contact with old friends, but chances are they will be delighted to hear from you -- so you'll lift their spirits as well as your own.

  • Families used to read aloud to one another. We often think of reading aloud as just bedtime stories for little kids -- but it's a wonderful activity for a winter's evening -- short stories or chapters from an on-going book. Older kids and adults love to read and be read to.
  • Stretch. Stretching is always good and necessary, but especially during the winter. Teach your children simple stretches. If you don't know any, there are books on stretching and basic yoga.

  • The winter is a time of renewal. Honor the process and take more time for extra rest. Animals hibernate and we need to respond to the need to slow down during the cold months.
    -Heidi Washburn
  • Chocolate.
    -Jill Comins
  • I see the winter as a time for introspection, a time to turn more inward and slow down. We're part of the animal kingdom and we need to remember that animals hibernate and seeds lie dormant during this time of year. We need to honor that rather than fight it.

  • I'm a college student and my roommates and I had an indoor beach party. We decorated with beach balls and beach paraphernalia and a large, inflatable shark. We played surfer music on the CD.

  • Agree about museums. They're great for kids in the winter. You lose track of time and place. You can totally forget about what season it is when you're involved in an exhibit.

  • This time of year there are terrific sales in the stores. We've gotten some wonderful bargains by buying winter clothing for next year -- getting things big in anticipation of our son's size 6 months from now.
    -Bettina Abrams

  • Winter is a time to organize those photos and recipes you don't want to bother with on a beautiful day. And remember, Spring is just around the corner.
    -Darlene Freeman

  • Invite someone (or more) over for dinner; dress-up your home with candelight and flowers -- and whatever you cook smells delicious and is appreciated by your guest(s,) You transcend the bleak outdoors by creating a warm glow indoors.
    -Carol Bastien
  • This is the season to read some of those books about winter such as Katy and the Big Snow and A Snowy Day. Even if we adults find winter dreary, for kids winter and snow are a big adventure.

  • May sound like a cliche, but doing something kind for someone else lifts the spirits amazingly well. The winter's a hard time for a lot of folks, including the elderly, the ill, and of course the homeless. Valentine's Day can be a reminder to think of others -- and do something helpful.
  • Just want to remind everyone how important it is to drink plenty of water. During the winter we tend to forget - but those 8 glasses a day are as essential as ever.
    -Marisa Harris

  • As someone who lives in Minnesota I've learned that you can't ignore or fight the winter. When it's not absolutely freezing we enjoy outdoor winter sports like ice skating and cross-country skiing and the kids love sledding.

  • Play a board game together - Monopoly, Scrabble or cards. Do something as a family that you haven't done before, such as visit a museum, or art gallery -- or go have tea somewhere.
    -Judith Steinhart

  • Rent a video that takes me someplace far away, warm and tropical.
  • One way to combat the winter doldrums is to commit acts of love and kindness as part of an extended Valentine's celebration. At PT&Co., we close our office in observance of Valentine's Day to give our employees the day off to do volunteer work as a way to spread love and kindness in our community. We've chosen to interpret Valentine's Day beyond the idea of romantic love to a more expansive love for all mankind. We've found that these simple acts of love and kindness are a great way to warm and gladden the heart even during the most dreary days of winter.
    -Patrice Tanaka

    This can be a wonderful time to start planning a summer vacation. Visualize green trees, lakes,or the beach --where ever your imagination takes you.

  • With the famous snows of Kilimanjaro melting away, let's appreciate winter while it still exists.

  • During the winter I drink a lot of tea and make soups.
    -Iluminada Scheinberg

  • If you suspect you're feeling more than "winter doldrums," seek the advice of a doctor. There may be physical and emotional issues involved that need to be addressed.

  • Spruce up your home. (Wonder where the expression "spruce up" comes from?) I've found that even just changing the placement of a picture or a pillow can make a difference.I guess you can always use spruce branches. Any history (or decorating) buffs out there who know about spruce?
    - Molly R.

  • We love to play old folksongs as a family. We take out the guitar and harmonize,usually not very well, and try to remember verses and make up our own. It's great fun any season.

  • On a cold winter's evening I curl up in front of the fireplace on a big comfortable chair, sip a glass of red wine and read my favorite Agatha Christie while I listen to classical music. Or that's my fantasy.

  • Find some form of exercise that you like enough so that you can do it regularly , every day. Make it a routine that you don't need to think about -- that you just do, and then are please to have done.
    -Ellyn Sullivan, (former Equinox Sales Manager)

  • This winter I've been redecorating by painting my walls wonderful colors. It's a great lift to go to the paint store and see all the beautiful choices.
    -Diana Wilson

  • This week I brought Spring to the office by putting a bouquet of fresh cut tulips on my desk!
    -Jennifer Seoanes

  • We recently started a family routine of cooking a meal together on the weekends. This weekend my two daughters, my husband and I all worked together in the kitchen, with each of us taking part in cooking. What makes this routine really special is that my husband, a busy lawyer, is an active participant.
    -Alexandra Avlonitis Levi

  • I try to find things that get make me smile and laugh -- whether it's a joke, a funny TV show or the Sunday comics. We play a lot of indoor games and my kids think board games are "bored" games. Games you play when you're bored so you won't be bored anymore.

  • With your children look around and begin to notice signs of Spring. We are beginning to see a few, but over the next month there will be plenty
    -Laura and Richard

  • Our kids have accumulated so much clutter in their room over the past few months. Before the weather gets warm and everyone's too distracted, I've been helping them sort out their toys and clothes. We figure out what needs to be mended, what can be discarded or given away and what to keep. When we did this last year I found they discovered things they had forgotten about. Also, when there's less mess they seem to play better and have fewer arguments.

  • We've been watching the Olympics -- can as a family. We talk about the events and look up the countries on the globe. It's been a great diversion during a stressful year.(this from a few years back, but the same idea can be applied to other sports events.).

  • WHEN SPRING ARRIVES make a big salad with all the greens, fresh vegetables and other healthy ingredients you can find. Enjoy this transitional weather and the beginning of the new season!


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