Winter is finally over, but the blues are still shadowing your back. The trees are still bare, the sky is still gray, and everything that was green is still brown and ugly. You're dying for the feel of the warm sun, for the scent of flowers. Life seems to be waiting for something. In addition, you've probably forgotten about all those New Year's resolutions you made. From getting fit, to trying to make time for family, the big bad R's often fall into the black hole where all the other unfulfilled resolutions go. How are they going to do you any good now? I propose a Springtime Resolution instead. It's never too late to do something positive on a regular basis to change your life. Unless of course, you're dead. Sooooo...you'd probably better start changing things now. A life with activity is often the best remedy for depression, so I've compiled a list of twenty things to try so you can kick your blues to the curb and start enjoying life again. Have a happy Spring!
1. Start an exercise routine.
Each year, the human body typically puts on seven pounds of fat (in my case it's more like the weight of a baby elephant) to prepare for winter. Apparently, it's something do to with our distant past when we lived in caves, ate rocks, and sometimes had to go days without real food. I don't know how they did it; I'm lucky if I can go a few hours without eating. But whether you can go three days or three hours, have packed on elephant weight or mosquito weight, everyone needs to be somewhat active for their health to be good. Though the thought of any sort of exercise routine can be intimidating, (especially if you'd rather be on the couch) you can aim small to start. A ten-minute walk around the block a few days a week is doable for most of us, as well as easy to fit into anyone's schedule. For strength training, a few dollars can buy you some very portable stretchy bands to tone your muscles with. If you start drop those pounds now, you'll look great for summer! Who doesn't want to look great for those summer BBQs? Plus, a workout releases endorphins, or what I call "The Happy Hormone." They pick up your mood.
2. Plan a "Welcome, Spring!" party.
Or a "Get Lost, Winter!" party. Or any party for that matter that involves your closest friends, lots of food, and a relaxed atmosphere. The main focus of this exercise is to give you something to look forward to. If you're constantly getting plans ready to carry out, it will be a lot harder for the blues to take over. Besides, it's great to look forward to good times ahead, especially if you have crazy friends like mine. And, yes, I had a spring party at the end of March, and we had a ball, as well as a few bottles of wine!
3. Volunteer your time.
Once of the best ways to forget about your own gloom is to alleviate the gloom of someone else. Wherever people live, there is no shortage of places that could use extra help. Perhaps your local homeless shelter could use a hand in the kitchen once a week. Maybe you know a disabled person who struggles with walking their dog. I challenge you to make a once-a-week commitment for one month helping someone who needs assistance. I guarantee you won't feel worse, if not better.
4. Learn a new skill, or teach a skill you know.
For example, maybe you've always wished you knew how to put the spare tire on your car in an emergency. Or, if you know how, you could teach someone younger than you who just bought their first car. We should never stop trying to learn new things (especially the stupid people of the world---------they need all the help they can get), especially if it's something we really want to learn.
5. Plan a movie night, craft night, or art night with friends.
Whatever you and your friends enjoy as a group, set aside the time to do it. Sometimes, I'm in dire need of a Lord of the Rings marathon, sometimes Harry Potter. Other times, it's paint and canvas for us, or even a game of Scrabble accompanied by lots of laughs and too much caffeine. But even if there's no group activity going on, the human company itself can help lift your mood. We often want to shut ourselves away when we feel depressed. I want to encourage you to get out there and be with people, especially the ones who build you up. But if they're the kind that tear you down, feel free to boot them out of your life with or without a steel-toed shoe.
6. Plan an all-day outing.
You've heard that the cute little historic town an hour away from you is a great place to explore. What are you waiting for? Grab your next paycheck, kidnap your friends, and take them out for a day of shopping, food, and exploration. Well, you shouldn't actually kidnap your friends, but you can always tie them up with duct tape and stuff them in the trunk if they give you a hard time about going. I have a few that are a bit reluctant because their husbands want to control everything they do, but I'm slowly training these women to stand up for themselves and say to those men, "Honey, I'm going out with the girls. Dinner's in the fridge. Don't wait up."
7. Join a weekly club, or start one.
Thank goodness for the internet, because anything you want to find is usually listed at the command of the right keyword. And if you can't find a club for your chosen activity, start your own. I'm actually thinking of starting one for spinners. No, not the bike spinners at the gym. I mean the spinners that can turn wool into yarn with wheels. The original spinners. I've been turning cat hair into string for as long as I can remember, but learning to spin silk was an entirely new experience.
8. Rediscover an old beloved hobby.
Too often, we let our busy lives kick our hobbies to the dumpster out back, sometimes literally. No one says you have to have many (says the woman with more hobbies than blood cells); one or two will do just fine. As long as you're passionate about something, that's all that matters. We all need to find something that brings us joy, something to help us wind down and de-stress, and I don't mean television. Find something you're truly nuts about and make the time for it. Our passions are part of who we are. Fish are born to swim. If you were a fish that couldn't make time to swim, you wouldn't be very happy, would you? What if you were an eagle that just had its wings amputated? Depression is often worsened when we allow our potential to dry up like an old riverbed. "Eagles" often remove their own wings, so to speak. Don't let this happen! If we don't use the gifts we are given, what good are they? We might as well not have them at all. If you don't have a hobby, there are probably thousands of them out there. Do a little research. One of them is bound to catch your interest.
9. De-clutter your house and start spring cleaning.
Getting rid of your stuff can be akin to climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. You look at the piles of junk that have taken up residence in your home, and you suddenly realize one day that your home is no longer a home; it's a building that's one soda can away from needing a condemned sign on the front door. You no longer own your stuff. Your stuff has suddenly started owning you, and you don't know what the heck to do about it. You'd press the panic button if you could find it, but it's likely buried under the laundry pile that hasn't been touched in two months. Spring is here, and you want to clean your house, but how are you going to accomplish that without clearing some space? It's like trying to decorate the Christmas tree while it's still in the too-small box it came in. My suggestion? De-clutter first, clean second. For de-cluttering, I recommend this book that has really helped my clueless butt out when it comes to owning what I have and not letting it own me: Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Berry.
10. Redecorate one room.
Now that your house is de-cluttered and de-messed, sometimes it only takes a fresh coat of paint, a few pictures, and some updated wall sockets to make a room in your home seem new again, with relatively little money invested. An updated and cleaned environment reduces stress and evokes a feeling of calm. Chocolate also works, but the positive effects don't last as long as the new fat cells that will be clinging to your hips. So, I'd stick with decorating.
11. Enter a contest, or host one yourself.
No, I'm not talking about those stupid online poetry contests that turn out to be scams. I mean something legit. Perhaps your local gym is hosting their own version of The Biggest Loser. If they aren't, maybe you ought to with a few friends who could benefit from a healthy lifestyle change. Or, maybe you're a writer who would like to host a short story competition for young writers at the local high school. I'm sure you get the picture. You'll definitely get one if you host a photography contest.
12. Plan a garden.
Any minute now, garden supplies will start springing up like new shoots at every big-name store you know. If you're lucky enough even to have a little yard, it's time to start thinking about planning what you want to grow. A garden is a great way to keep the kids busy, learn a new skill, and watch edible things pop out of the ground like magic. If you live in an apartment, you can grow fresh herbs to use in the kitchen. As for me, I haven't reached the planning stages yet. I'm at the point where it's time to start thinking about how much money it's going to take to get my teenage son to pull out two year's worth of weeds.
13. Plan a lunch date with someone you haven't seen in awhile.
Life gets in the way sometimes, but if you don't make time for your friends, soon you won't have any. It's okay to refuse an invitation to a party or outing if you really don't feel like going, but I'd only advise doing this if you've seen those people recently. If you haven't seen them in a year or two, you should probably go. I'm only going to say this once: If you don't make time for your friends, soon you won't have any.
14. Study a new topic.
I think we sometimes forget that learning new things can be really fun if it's presented in a way that is memorable. Learning is often fun on its own, but sometimes you might need a little encouragement to educate yourself on something you normally would not even think to look at. I recommend beginning with Youtube, which has almost become a sort of poor-man's university. You can learn anything you want there, and you'd be surprised what you'll find. Fall in love with new topics! I'm a documentary buff myself.
15. Get a job.
Perhaps you're retired and bored out of your brain from being home all the time for the first time in 30-40 years. Maybe you're a stay-at-home mom that could use a bit of extra cash. Consider getting a part-time job at a "fun" store, like a book shop, gift shop, or a craft store. Something you'll like. Sometimes, being at home all day, every day, is not always healthy. You get bored, lazy, and you'll eat like a pig because you've run out of things to clean. Get a job and get out of the house!
16. Break a bad habit, or form a new one.
Are you trying to quit smoking? Perhaps you want to learn how to better manage your time. So, what are you waiting for? Do some research, form your support group, and kick those bad habits off the cliff from whence they came!
17. Family game night
Get those kids off the electronics and back onto the board game playing field! I can't tell you how many laughs I've had just by playing Scrabble, especially when we come up with funky words that don't exist, such as dinofumes, woolyfarms, and schmear.
18. Read a book you've never read, or watch a film you've never seen.
Are you sick of everyone talking about the most popular film, when you know diddly-squat about it? Well, Netflix is just one click away. Broaden your horizons, people! A little reading never killed anyone either, unless the book shelf fell on them...
19. Eat at a restaurant you've never been to.
One cool thing I love about those apps that let you order food to your front door is that everyone in the family can get what they want to eat. You all don't have to eat at the same restaurant. My husband and son love pizza; they could eat it four times a day and not tire of it (though they will get a bad case of the farts), but I have a more diverse food palate. Sometimes, I just want a dish of palak paneer, beef shawarma, or some onigiri, but it's impossible to get my family to accompany me to the restaurants that have this food without the boys whining about "funny smells" or saying stuff like, "I hope that's beef..." Hence, the food app that I love so much has a place in my life.
20. Complete a project you've been putting off.
I once bought a kit for an embroidered silk purse that I just had to have. Year after year, I put off working on it, and I finally decided to either donate it, or stitch it. Well, I sewed it, sixteen years after buying it, and I wish I'd done it sooner. It's a great relief to finish a project that's been bugging you for ages.
We only get one life, so go out there and enjoy it!
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