How to Stay
WHEN SKIES ARE GRAY
Now that the New Year is in the rear-view mirror, there can be a bit of a hollow feeling left where all that merriment was only weeks ago. Re-adjusting to regular life, the shorter days and the gray weather can all make us feel a little low.
We already know that the absence of natural light can adversely affect us. Most of us have experienced a case of the ‘winter blues’ and the subsequent uptick in mood and energy when the sun reasserts itself in spring. Intentionally seeking out the sunshine for a few hours per day can go a long way towards making us feel more like ourselves during the darker winter months.
(If your feelings of sadness start to interfere with your normal life, you have trouble eating or sleeping, or feel increasingly depressed, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder and should seek medical help right away.)
But another way we can affect our mood is through color.
There are certain characteristics that we generally associate with certain colors: romance or danger with red, happiness or energy with yellow, serenity with blue.
But the way color influences each of us is based both on our own cultural associations as well as our personal experiences.
Understanding a little about color psychology can be interesting and helpful (don’t paint your kitchen yellow if you are trying to diet, for example, because yellow promotes appetite). But ultimately your decisions about what colors you should use in your own life need to be based on how they make you feel personally.
Take a moment to look around at some different colors. Which ones lift your spirits? Is there one that makes you smile? You may already know your favorite, but be open to discovering new colors and hues that speak to you.
We all want to keep our spirits up during the winter months. So let’s add some color to our lives! The best part: you don’t need to get out the paint roller to accomplish this (unless you want to!)…you can just implement one or two of these small ideas to add a little zhuzh to your day.
1. Brighten up your office supplies.
Colorful paperclips, check! Brightly colored stapler, check! Jaunty thumbtacks and sticky notes, check, check! And there are a zillion bright and beautiful file folders out there to liven things up! Don’t let drab office supplies ruin your day.
2. Add a colorful element to your workspace.
Bring in an inexpensive colorful bowl to hold your paperclips. Add a brightly colored clock to your work area. Put a happy hued photo frame or plant pot on your desk. Any (or all) of these elements will brighten up your workspace.
3. Write in color. Or at least with a colorful pen.
If your workplace will allow (and definitely at home), choose to write in a happy colored ink! If that doesn’t suit your job, then at least purchase some happy colored pens (that write in blue or black ink) to cheer up your notes!
4. Update your desktop and cell phone wallpaper.
One of the simplest and least expensive ways to brighten up your day is to update your digital wallpapers. Bring in some brighter, cheerful scenes and colors to look at everytime you fire up your technology!
5. Get a brighter mani/pedi.
If your go-to color is light pink, then amp it up a notch to bright pink! Or go all-out with NEON pink! A colorful mani is a limited-time commitment, so choose a bright and bold color that makes you smile.
6. Make a happy wardrobe selection.
Winter is the perfect time to add a vibrant hued element or two to your wardrobe rotation. Even if you work in a conservative environment, a bright red or blue top should be acceptable.
If you love the aqua pantsuit or fuchia puffer vest, then now is defintely the time to go for it! At a minimum, add a few bright tees and a cheerful beanie to your closet for the next few months.
But if you insist that brightly colored clothes really aren’t your thing…
7. Carry a vibrant bag. Or wear the bright shoes.
You may not be comfortable wearing bright clothing. I feel you, some of use are just more at home in muted colors (Hello, summers.)
But that doesn’t mean we can’t carry a bright bag! Or wear a bright pair of sneakers! (Mine are hot pink.) Grab an accessory in a color that makes you smile and let it brighten up your regular style lineup.
8. Wear some bright slippers.
The rules at home when you are in your smooshy-est clothes are totally different. So grab a pair of the happiest, most cheerful slippers you can find to sport throughout the winter months. And bonus points if they have unicorns on them!
9. Update your bedding.
Winter is the perfect time to invest in some new bedding. Try some colorful sheets and a bright new comfortor. Or crisp white sheets with a vivid patterend quilt. You could even just grab a set of adorable pillowcases from the kids’ section of your local Target. Anything to spruce up your sleepy place.
10. Change your shower curtain.
Your bathroom is one of those places that can get a big upgrade with a few little changes. A new shower curtain is an inexpensive purchase with a big return. Plus, it is a limited commitment, as you can change it again at any time for a small sum.
I am a big fan of shopping for shower curtains in the kids’ department. Usually they are super fun and bright colors, which is exactly what you need in the gloomier winter months!
To extend the life of any shower curtain, fabric OR plastic, use a liner. This keeps even your plastic curtain cleaner and allows you to change it out & re-use it again later, maybe next winter!
11. Freshen up your towels or rugs.
Gray, gloomy winter is the perfect opportunity to use some fluffy, bright pink or purple towels! You can grab just a couple bright bath towels from your local Home Goods or Target, or invest in a whole set. Get the rug to match, or find a fun rug all on its own! (Again, check out the kids section!)
I promise, drying off with a cheerful towel really does start the day off better!
12. Brighten up your cooking utensils.
Vibrant and festive cooking utensil options abound! Whisks, pancake turners, can openers, you name it…it can be found in a bright color. There are even colorful pots and pans out there that are totally affordable.
Make your time in the kitchen more fun with some colorful kitchen tools! And while you’re looking, check out the animal themed utensils!
13. Choose a happy coffee mug.
If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you know the importance of a good mug. Why not make it a bright and cheerful one during the winter months? This is a relatively inexpensive way to brighten up your morning ritual.
I have a whole curated Coffee, Please list of favorites on Etsy, and I’m always on the lookout for something new and exciting. Starting the day off with a mug that makes you smile is the one way that a cup of coffee (or tea) is improved.
14. Add some bright decals to your appliances.
There are a number of ways to enjoy stickers as a grown up…and this is a great one! They actually make fun decals (or magnets) to spice up your mixer, your Instapot, your dishwasher and your other appliances!
Another great way to brighten up your kitchen!
15. Fill up some clear glass jars.
Get organized AND add a bright spot of color in your kitchen and around the house with clear glass jars. (I like these.) This is great storage that can do double duty on display as colorful art. Each jar becomes an eye-catching bit of art when filled with your washi tape collection, all the random muffin cups you have stashed away, a pile of extra ribbons or hair accessories, or all the extra Legos left around the house.
16. Bring in some multicolored flowers or vivid green plants.
Fresh flowers from the grocery store are an easy way to add some cheer to any room. If you prefer to have something with a longer life span, make a quick trip to a local nursery and pick up a plant that would love to live inside with you for the winter.
17. Choose a vivid flower pot.
Don’t plant your new friends in just any old pot…pick out a brightly hued one that will make it (and you) happy!
18. Buy a vibrant pillow or blanket for the living room.
Gray days call for a pillow update. Either purchase an inexpensive new pillow in a color that brightens up your space, or look online for a pillow cover in the size of your existing pillows. Opting for a pillow cover might seem less cost effective, (ironically they can be MORE expensive than just buying the pillow outright) but it means you can easily store your additional pillow wardrobe for next season.
Another cheeful update is a bright fuzzy blanket or throw for your sofa or favorite chair. Nothing says long winter’s nap like a soft cozy blankie in a happy color.
19. Curate your social feeds.
One place you might not have considered adding color into your routine is on your social feeds. There are so many Instagramers who curate a brightly colored aesthetic! Google will steer you in the right direction. Follow a few (or a lot!) of these cheerful folks to add some much needed festivity to your winter days.
20. Add an eye-catching surprise to your drawers.
A more subtle way to add a colorful surprise to your days is to update your kitchen, bathroom or dresser drawers.
Grab a roll of self-adhesive wallpaper from a site like Spoonflower or even a local home improvement store and get to decorating! These temporary wallpapers are easy to use and usually easy to remove.
Best of all, you don’t need a ton of rolls so you may be able to splurge on a super-fun print!
21. Organize your bookshelf by hue.
If it is gray outdoors, create your own rainbow inside…using your bookshelf! Separate your books by color and arrange in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet!
If you are feeling really ambitious, you can add books of a color you are missing by browsing your local used bookstore or an online site that sells different colored books by the foot. (Yes, that’s a thing!)
22. Group colorful elements in your décor.
Pull out those bright puzzle boxes from their cabinet and put them on display. Round up all the pink things you can find for a happy Valentine’s Day arrangement. Keep all the Legos in a big bowl on the coffee table.
Collecting the colorful elements all in one place this way increases their impact.
23. Get a bright steering wheel cover or seat cover.
Take your cheer along with you in the car! No need to drive around in the gloomy weather…in a gloomy car!
I seriously want this fun steering wheel cover for myself. And there are so many more bright and happy options available! Or go for a bright seat cover…whatever makes getting in the driver’s seat a treat!
24. Hang a happy car charm.
Another simple purchase with a big impact is a happy car charm or air freshener. Just one more little tweak that can add some happy to your errands on a gray day.
25. Paint yourself happy.
While winter isn’t a great time for larger painting projects, there are some smaller projects that require less ventilation AND less effort but pack a big wallop of surprise color!
Edges of doors, bulletin boards (the cork or the frame!), the back of your bookcase, the inside of your dresser drawers, and the inside of your closet or pantry are all unexpected places that could benefit from a pop of happy color!
Color is a power which directly influences the soul.
Bringing color to the forefront of your life doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming or expensive. It only involves a little intention. Look around at your life. Where can you make a few small changes that will have a big impact on your spirits? Go add a splash of happy color right there.