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6 Ways to Keep Busy During the ‘Winter Blues’

I love fall just as much as the next person; the moderate temperatures and delightful winds, the trees transitioning into bright colors, the pumpkin spice galore (though I’m a tea person, so the pumpkin spice latte hype never won me over), and the autumnal spirit of Thanksgiving.

But since stores are now stowing away their pumpkin displays and bringing out the Christmas wreaths and candy canes, this can only mean one thing — winter is coming.

Don’t get me wrong; I revel in the beginning of the wintry season because I genuinely like the holiday cheer and Christmas songs on the radio. I genuinely like the beautiful lights and family traditions. But after January first, I hear the birds chirp on a sunny day and pine for spring.

I can certainly recall experiencing the “winter blues” last year when the bitter temperatures and bleak grey skies seemed as if they were never going to diminish. I remember thinking that March was so dreary, and I kept wishing I had the funds to go down to Florida, even if it was just for a few days.

Then April arrived, but the cold didn’t leave and rain persisted, and I was starting to feel a bit discouraged, wondering when winter was going to legitimately take a step back.

This year, I want to be preemptive (I may as well be if they’re already selling wreaths in mid-November)  and compile a short list of (hopefully fun) ways to keep busy when winter becomes a tad too much. And if you’re on the east coast like me or in another cold climate — Hi, Chicago — you might be able to relate to this premise and want to counter the winter blues once the season truly kicks into gear.

  1. Embrace Outdoor Activities: Now you might find this suggestion to be a bit ambitious. You might be thinking: “Wait, really? Why do I even want to go outside and be blown away by howling winds?”

    I tend to think that way, too. But then I also remember how much fun I had when my family used to go to the Catskill Mountains every February break, and how we embraced snowy activities. Nowadays, I like the snow from the inside (meaning, I don’t have the motivation to roll around in it when I’m freezing), but maybe if there’s an enjoyable activity (such as snow tubing), I can see myself wanting to have a snow-filled adventure. (As long as I’m dressed appropriately, of course.)

    As I’m typing this, I just thought of ice skating, too. (At least with ice skating, you are bundled and can be indoors.)

  2. Read a Book: If this sounds boring, it’s only because reading books that are not interesting to your personal taste can be, for lack of a better word, boring.

    I happen to like novels that take place on Nantucket in the summer (shout-out to author Elin Hilderbrand), and overall, I know the books that will definitely keep me invested and serve as a virtual escape. Reading a book that you genuinely enjoy (it can be anything) in a cozy corner of your home or at a coffee shop with a hot beverage can definitely be gratifying.

  3. Let Phone Calls Be a Back-Up Plan: When it’s obviously too cold to go outside, maybe there’s a blizzard in the works or maybe it’s just one of those bone-chilling nights, it doesn’t mean that all hope for human contact is lost.

    I know everyone texts these days, but I still love talking on the phone and hearing a live voice on the other end of the line. For times when it’s tricky to schedule and execute plans, talking on the phone is a secondary way of catching up and spending time with friends.

  4. Get Creative: Again, this suggestion may come across as ambitious at first. Get creative? Like start painting a great piece of art? Not necessarily. (I have very minimal artistic ability, to say the least.)

    Creativity can come in small and simple doses, though. It can be as straight forward as uncovering a new hobby or leaning into an old one. What makes you happy? Maybe it’s helpful to start from there when it comes to creatively thinking outside the box.

    I like to sing, and I’m trying to become a lot better at playing the ukulele, so hopefully, I can muster up my creative juices to practice the uke on a frigid wintry day.

  5. Relish Home Movie Nights: I truly advocate for movie nights at home. Not only do you save money on an expensive movie theatre experience ($13 for a movie and $7 for popcorn?!), but you can snuggle up with a blanket and find an old favorite or a new discovery. When it’s too cold to venture out into the night, this is definitely an easy and very doable fix.
  6. Plan Ahead: One way to navigate the rough winter is to look forward to what is destined to come after — spring and summer. Seize the spring symbolism of fresh starts and new beginnings and start planning some outings (or even getaways) that you can truly look forward to in the months ahead. I like planning mini day trips — a scenic drive, a city outing, a picnic at the park, a beach day by beautiful water — once it’s finally time to be outside and the sun is our friend.

The winter blues can feel discouraging as the season takes hold, and it can have the tendency to bring us down. It’s hard for it not to, when such a blistery backdrop is at the forefront for months.

I’m hoping that my list of ways to keep busy this upcoming winter can serve as a comforting guide until spring arrives once more.

6 Ways to Keep Busy During the ‘Winter Blues’

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). 6 Ways to Keep Busy During the ‘Winter Blues’. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 2, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Nov 2018 (Originally: 15 Nov 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 15 Nov 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.