Feeling Cooped Up This Winter? Learning a New Skill Is My #BestMedicine

For a lot of people, winter snowfall makes for the prettiest time of year. If you’re susceptible to the end-of-year doldrums, however, you know the season can be as challenging as it is pleasing to the eye.

I tend to feel slow, sleepy, and cooped up during this period, and it can turn into a real roadblock if I’m not careful. After a productive (or not-so-productive) year, the next few months come filled with the urge to stay in my pajamas for days at a stretch, a need that only grows stronger the lower the temperature drops.

To be clear, I consider myself fortunate not to experience a more serious seasonal mood change. But giving in to that months-long temptation can bring disastrous results, and the best way I’ve found to fight it is by taking time to learn a new skill every winter.

Staying Focused — and Active

Learning something new has become a yearly ritual for me — my proverbial #bestmedicine  but I started the practice on a total whim. One winter, in a rare moment of motivation, I decided to try my hand at writing instead of puttering around the house all day. The decision became a habit that kept me at the keyboard through the season and beyond. The results were so encouraging, in fact, that I spent the next winter learning how to make espresso and coffee drinks, a move that saved me a lot of time and money I would’ve otherwise spent at the coffee shop. The year after that, I learned how to set up and maintain a saltwater fish tank … and so on.

Over the years, I’ve learned that what I’m doing isn’t super important as long as I’m doing something. You can call it keeping busy or even say I’m simply distracting myself. Either way, learning a new skill gives me something to do besides sitting around and fretting about feeling so cooped up.

Springtime eventually melts the snow away, but the skills I learn during the colder months stick with me forever. I’m only writing this article because I decided to try my hand at the keyboard one winter day — and the latte currently steaming away at my desk was brewed at home in my kitchen because of a similar decision.

Live and Learn

If you decide to try learning something new, stick with it. Feeling cooped up never quite goes away, and many days I have to force myself to practice my skill of the year instead of waking up eager and ready to work. But it does get a little easier every year, mostly because of the results I’ve achieved in years past.

Will learning something new help you shake off that familiar winter feeling? It’s hard to say. But I do know that it has given me something to look forward to once the novelty of the year’s first snow has worn off. If you struggle with the winter blues, give it a try. There’s no telling what you’ll be able to do come springtime — or how it’ll help you, both practically speaking and in a larger sense.

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