Creative Ways to Cure the “Winter Blues”
By Leah Lancione
According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is “a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Most people with the disorder have symptoms in the fall that continue through the winter months. The depression causes moodiness and lack of energy.
OK, even if your problem isn’t that extreme, it’s easy to have a form of “winter blues” late in the season. Since the cold temperatures and snowy days keep most folks indoors, it’s quite common to start pining for spring and summer.
If you’re sick and tired of feeling trapped in your house without any fresh air or leisurely exercise, it’s time to get creative with your indoor routine.
Have you ever thought of scrapbooking? Well, the dreadful days of winter are perfect for staying inside, clipping old photographs from past holidays or vacations and pasting them into a scrapbook. If you think you’re not artistic enough don’t worry; there is a plethora of websites that teach beginners techniques for making one-of-a-kind creations. You can spend hours conceiving of creative ways to pay homage to, say, your wedding anniversary celebration, grandkids’ births, your retirement party or your kids’ weddings. Instead of stuffing photographs in an album that sits on the shelf, a scrapbook will become something you show off to friends because you can add personal touches like captions and mementos to every page. Another good idea is to dig up old photographs and baby pictures to create miniscrapbooks to give to your children. Before you know it, you’ll be an expert on die cutting, cut-outs, stamping, punches, ribbon and other unique embellishments.
Another option, though it may appear to be a chore at first, is to do some spring cleaning early. No, don’t try washing all the windows or power washing the siding. Instead, think about organizing the pantry or closets. A dreary winter day is the perfect time to sift through pantry items that have passed their expiration date or go through all your drawers and closets for articles of clothing and other items that can be donated to charities like the Salvation Army or AMVETS (American Veterans). By springtime, when it’s time to switch your wardrobe from cold to warm weather garments, you will have cut the job in half.
Both the Salvation Army and AMVETS will gladly come to your home to pick up bags of donated items placed at the curbside. In just one afternoon you will have managed to tidy up your house, get a jumpstart on the big spring cleaning and even do a good deed. An added benefit is that by donating items to charity, you get a tax write-off.
Another fun idea is throw a winter picnic—indoors of course. Create a menu of winter comfort foods like chili, winter soups, e.g., butternut squash, minestrone, or Italian wedding, etc., pot pies, twice-baked potatoes, hot chocolate with marshmallows, herbal tea and crumpets, hot fondues.
Decorate the table with a flannel or wool (preferably plaid) blanket instead of a table cloth to invoke the picnic atmosphere, use thermoses instead of glasses and fill a picnic basket with hot rolls or biscuits. Pull the shades up so you can see the gray skies and trees whipping in the wind while you and your mates are warm and cozy inside. After dessert of something like a hot fruit cobbler or a hot-fudge sundae with a warm café au lait, move the party into the living room for a game of charades to work off the calories and get the blood circulating.
If a dinner party and charades isn’t your style, what about having an old movie marathon? When was the last time you watched Doris Day in Pillow Talk or Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Roman Holiday? To heighten the intensity, add a few Alfred Hitchcock classic thrillers like Rear Window or Vertigo. Pop some popcorn, fill some snack dishes with movie-type goodies like Twizzlers, Gummy Bears, M&Ms or Snowcaps and cuddle up on the couch or recliner. To further create the home cinematic experience, close the curtains, turn off the lights, crank up the volume on the TV.
As you try out these ideas for curing the winter blues or conjure up some of your own, just remember that before you know it, the cold days of winter will soon make way for the warmer weather.
For info on SAD and any number of other ailments, go to www.mayoclinic.com
To access menu ideas and recipes, see www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/winter-comfort-food or www.countryliving.com/cooking/about-food/winter-comfort-food-0103