“Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.” – Valerie Bertinelli
This is the time of year when I’m well past the excitement of the holidays and tired of dealing with winter-related problems or other people’s sour mood due to too many dark days. I’m lucky in the sense that I live in Southern California, so there’s no pileup of snow and ice and bitter cold temperatures to ruin my day. That does not mean, however, that residents here — like elsewhere in the country — don’t suffer a bit from the winter doldrums.
Here are six ways to get a jump on spring for those who are eager for warmer weather and the hope and promise that the new season brings.
1. Buy a colorful potted plant.
Probably the quickest and relatively inexpensive solution to dark winter days is a brightly colored potted plant. Daffodils are the erstwhile flowers of spring, yet there are lots of others to choose from. Home improvement stores, supermarkets and nurseries offer numerous choices, everything from miniature tea roses and orchids to hyacinth, tulips, crocus, iris, muscari, pansies and more.
Place the plant in an area that gets some daytime light, so it will last until spring arrives. Make sure to water your cheerful little pot of color when needed.
2. Plan your garden.
Speaking of flowers and color, now’s the perfect time to pore through garden catalogs and check out nursery sites for ideas and materials for the garden. In my mind, happiness is a well-designed and tended garden, among other things. Whether you need to restock soil, plant vitamins and nutrients or shop for bare-root plants to arrive in the mail, or just gather ideas for a makeover of your existing garden, you’ll immerse yourself in the project and find your mood lifts in the process.
Another tip is to buy seeds, planting mix and containers and jumpstart growing your spring flowers indoors. Be sure you have the appropriate indoor growing lights, though, since you can’t rely on Mother Nature to beam in rays through the window.
3. Visit a car dealership for a test drive (or wander the showroom floor checking out what’s new).
I’m not a convertible fancier, although I recognize the appeal of a test drive in a droptop to whet the appetite for spring. I do, however, recommend a walk-through of a trusted dealership if the prospect of buying or leasing a new vehicle is on your spring checklist. This is after online research, of course, so you’re not going in cold. You don’t have to be ready to buy now. Just mention that you’re just looking or want to sit in and feel how this car/crossover/convertible/wagon/SUV, etc., feels. Although many brochures are now online only, if your dealer still has hard-cover ones on hand, take home what strikes your fancy. Examining them in detail at home gives you something pleasant to do while winter still hangs on outside.
4. Spruce up your home.
Winter does take a toll on a home, so take some time to figure out what needs attention, where you might want to splash on new paint, restore, fix, revitalize or redecorate. Paint samples, swatches of fabric, flooring or carpeting or other bring-home materials can help you envision your updated surroundings — and potentially add value to your home. When you’re busy putting together creative ideas, you’ll find depressing, negative thoughts are nowhere to be found.
5. Indulge in a professional massage or salon makeover.
Getting pampered with a professional massage or taking advantage of a makeover at the salon is generally considered the province of women, although men can realize benefits as well. Besides the welcome relief sore and achy muscles will feel after a stint on the slopes or out jogging in the cold, the skin takes a beating from harsh winter weather and could use a little tender loving care at the hands of the massage or beauty professional. Think of this as an example of self-care.
6. Go through closets and recycle, reuse, reduce or repurpose items.
Maybe you’re tired of wearing that linen jacket or the jeans that once fit so well are now baggy or too tight. Keep in mind that bulging closets are a sign of more than just clutter and the anxiety that often goes with a task left undone. They’re excellent opportunities to spend some time going through them and finding new lease on life for what’s there. Others at a charity can make use of your donated items, or you may find other creative ideas spring (pun intended) to mind on how to reuse or repurpose them. If none of these are appropriate, recycle or pitch in the trash.