Discover how to easily (and happily) survive the dormant season until the first signs of spring
If you’re not a "winter person" and your moods tend to shift — and not in a good way — with the short days and cold, windy temps, you may find yourself yearning to ride out the next three months in a warmer climate amid azure skies, swaying palms and sandy beaches. Since slipping into blissful hibernation mode over the winter months isn’t really an option, keeping busy with some indoor projects and activities may help you keep those winter blues at bay. They may even elevate your mood with a newfound sense of pride and satisfaction.
Add zest to comfort food recipes with a container herb garden
Is there a sunny spot in your kitchen for a small herb container garden? Why not excite your palate with the natural taste of summer by growing your own aromatic herbs and using them in seasonings for hearty, wintry dishes like stews, soups and roasts? The short root structures on plants like thyme, rosemary, and sage make them perfect for planting in small pots that require very little countertop or window sill space. And these potted herbs are as visually appealing as they are sweet and fragrant.
If your windows don’t have sills and your countertop is crowded, a vertical garden may make a lot more sense. Tin buckets planted with culinary herbs and hung across the walls take up no extra space and are fun and whimsical. Try it — you just might decide they add an earthy accent to your décor and discover new and tastier ways to cook along the way!
Clear out the clutter: clean, organize, donate (it’s tax-deductible)
We all have those closets, corners and cubbies — sometimes entire rooms — where old, discarded or seldom-used clothing, toys, knick-knacks and housewares literally lie in wait. They might be stacked in piles or haphazardly strewn about, but there’s one thing you know deep in your soul: they haven’t been used for probably a year or more and it’s time they found a new home.
Clearing out clutter must surely rank right up there on the top-tier list of household activities most people tend to avoid. But if the hardest part of any project is getting started, the mental and visual payoff of conquering this particular chore is without equal. When it’s all done, you can feel yourself breathe easier as you stand back and scan the clean open space.
Don’t let the task overwhelm you; set yourself a do-able timeframe, such as an entire morning or afternoon. If you find yourself on a roll you can always extend it. As you cull through each rack, shelf or pile of items the question is always the same: recycle, trash or donate? Rule of thumb: If it’s torn, broken, rusty, damaged or not serviceable to someone else, it’s best to toss it.
Many worthwhile charitable and helping organizations are happy to send a truck to pick up your donations; you can simply call or go online to set up a convenient day to place your bags and boxes outside your home for pickup. Some to consider: AMVETS National Service Foundation, Pickup Please/Vietnam Veterans of America, Salvation Army, Military Order of the Purple Heart/GreenDrop and Habitat for Humanity. Goodwill generally encourages drop-offs at any of its donation bins or centers, but some offer pickup services for furniture and other large items that are hard to transport. Goodwill also welcomes donations of vehicles.
A final extra benefit: your donations may be tax-deductible!
Start a new decorating project
It can be as simple as rolling on a fresh coat of paint, laying down a new area rug or adding a couple of stylish throw pillows that pop with color. Freshening up your room’s look with several thoughtfully placed "feel good" accessories can definitely change up its visual appeal. Because the shorter days and colder temps have a way of emotionally dragging us down, winter is the perfect time to start off the new year with some mood elevating décor.
These little embellishments don’t have to be budget busters. In fact, virtually all of the big box, brick-and- mortar stores and their online counterparts offer a broad selection of furniture and accessories within a wide range of price points. You might want to check out the local mom and pop stores, too, for pieces that are rare and unique.
Here are some other ways of upping your indoor aesthetic game without breaking the bank:
- Light up your corners: Standing lamps, small floor uplights or rustic-look lanterns, accenting real or faux greenery, can add a cozy ambiance;
- Create your own glowing warmth: Strategically placed real or flameless LED candles, attractively set in any of the wide variety of glass, stone or metal tealight, votive or pillar holders can instantly evoke a calming sense of relaxation;
- Display a new piece of inspirational artwork: Whether it’s a casual poster, any of the hundreds of styles of decorative table top signs, a dramatic, wall-size canvas or famous artist’s reproduction, the medium isn’t as important as the message! Choose a positive, uplifting and comforting theme with inspiring graphics that bring a smile to your face and keep you optimistic.
Cultivate indoor house plants
Large or small, house plants are natural air purifiers and are as visually appealing as they are healthy. They reduce carbon dioxide levels, increase humidity, reduce levels of certain pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide, reduce airborne dust levels and keep air temperatures down.
Following is a list of 12 beneficial indoor plants with calming and cleansing effects to help you sleep better:
- Jasmine: an exotic plant with a gentle, soothing effect on the body and mind, it lessens anxiety and results in waking up more alert;
- Boston Fern: easy to care for, these air purifiers remove compounds like formaldehyde, plastics, or cigarette smoke from the air;
- Peace Lilies: can break down compounds like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene;
- Mass Cane a.k.a. Corn Plant: popular for office or home, mass cane removes formaldehyde and cleans the air;
- Lavender: is proven to lower stress and anxiety levels; improves sleep, lowers heart rate and calms agitated babies;
- Snake Plant: absorbs C02 and converts it to oxygen. Also improves air quality as you sleep and works to remove xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene from the air in your home;
- Aloe Vera: besides this plant’s widely known benefits to the skin, it purifies the air and also absorbs compounds from paint and cleaning agents;
- Gardenia: the crocetin found in gardenia has been found to significantly improve quality of sleep;
- Spider Plant: removes benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and xylene from the air;
- English Ivy: helps purify the air in your home and is especially good for absorbing mold in the air.
NBC reporter Sophie Lee, blogs:
Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxin in 24 hours. Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent!), reduce stress levels and boost your mood — making them perfect for not just your home but your work space, too. Whether you live in a small apartment, or a large house, by introducing certain plants into your home, you will start to notice improvements to your health, and overall happiness. As well as enhancing your mood and creating a living space that is soothing to be in, plants can also help with loneliness and depression: caring for a living thing gives us a purpose and is rewarding — especially when you see that living thing bloom and thrive.
Here are a few bigger home improvement projects you may want to consider.