7 Not-Boring Winter Pick-Me-Ups
by Abby McIntosh
The changing of the seasons can be rough. I love Mother Nature, but I’m not a fan of the loop that she throws me for every January. Winter is cold, isolating, and brings bomb cyclones, which are precisely as awful as their ridiculous name suggests. If, like me, you’re prone to a winter hibernation that involves turning your apartment into a blanket fortress, fear not: we’ve come up with some not-boring pick-me-ups to distract you from the unfriendly weather and make you feel a little less sluggish.
Set up your space
If you find yourself becoming antsy during a snowed-in weekend, try reorganizing your space. Whether it’s a single room or an entire apartment, the process of sorting through your things can be surprisingly therapeutic. After many years of trial and error, I’ve settled on the following technique that leaves me with the satisfaction of a clean(er) room without making me feel completely overwhelmed by the task at hand.
I start by looking at my room and dividing into quadrants. I pick a quadrant to start in, and go through with a trash bag and a donations bag to collect anything that needs to go. Next, I look at the remaining items and remove anything from that quadrant that belongs somewhere else. Once I’m only dealing with stuff that I know belongs in that quadrant, I can move those items around as I please and do some jujing. I typically find that if I can get through one quadrant, the next three feel less intimidating. Turning on music and taking your time also helps tidying up feel less like a chore, and moving around is a relief when you can’t get outside for fresh air.
Fighting over who’s going to trek to whose house in the middle of a blizzard is a cherished winter past time of any friend group. It’s totally reasonable if you reach a stalemate and no one’s willing to leave their house; however, the promise of a clothing/beauty product swap might be enough to lure even the most devoted of blizzard recluses out of their caves. Tell your friends to round up some stuff that they aren’t using (clothing, beauty products, books, etc.) and dump it into the massive tote bag of random stuff that they’ll inevitably haul over to your sleepover. Once everyone has convened, you can set up snacks, lay out your to-be-swapped items, and get to tradin’. It’s a no-cost, indoors shopping spree during a snowstorm, which is, dare I say, kind of genius.
One of the best things about winter is that it’s the perfect time to start new hobbies that you know you’re not going to commit to long-term. There’s nothing like the rush of getting into a new project on a whim and being totally fine with abandoning it the second that spring arrives. If you already have craft materials collecting dust somewhere, brush ’em off and give watercoloring, or charcoal drawings, or crocheting another whirl. I took up knitting two winters ago and had an extremely productive two-month-long run of scarf production. I’m now riding the watercoloring train because it’s cheaper than knitting and soothes my regret about not having gone to art school. You don’t need anything fancy; whipping out some crayons and printer paper while watching YouTube videos in the background can provide hours of relaxation on a gross, frigid day. Though it might be obvious, Pinterest offers a veritable cornucopia of craft ideas, and you’re almost sure to find something that can be made out of materials that you already have.
If you do reach the aforementioned stalemate with your friends and find yourself sitting in deafening silence, try getting into a podcast. I know that podcasts can be very *eye roll,* and I myself was a major skeptic, but the below podcasts are basically just really funny people talking to each other, which is the next best thing to hanging out with your friends, and requires neither emotional energy nor pants.
Two Dope Queens: Comedians Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson host this live comedy podcast and are always joined by legendary guests. Queen Latifah, Abbi Jacobson, Bob the Drag Queen…the list goes on.
My Favorite Murder: You, like me, are probably turned off by the phrase “true crime,” but my best friend turned me onto this podcast wherein two other best friends choose a murder that actually happened and share their respective choices with each other while offering amusing commentary. It’s the perfect balance of scary and funny and v easy to binge.
Sooo Many White Guys: Tired of being the only black female comedian in a sea of white male comedians, Phoebe Robinson, along with Broad City’s Ilana Glazer, created Sooo Many White Guys so that she could interview other artists who aren’t white guys. She made an exception for Tom Hanks, though, which is understandable.
Another Round: Hosted by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, Another Round covers basically everything — race, gender, pop culture, food — but the hosts are drinking while they chat, which almost makes you feel like you’re out with your friends. Almost.
Girl Boss Radio: In the mood to get shit done in 2018? Here’s your podcast. Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso interviews successful women who offer career advice, industry info, and other helpful life lessons. Just listening to it will make you feel productive.
Read a Book
Yeah. This one’s self-explanatory. I will be the first to admit that books are my literal last resort when I’m bored. As you can clearly see, cleaning my house, watercoloring, and listening to strangers talk are all things that I’d do before cracking open a book. I know that this is an unbecoming admission, but I’m just being honest. When I do, however, dare to open up a book, I realize why I should do it more often. Getting sucked into a good book will fill your agenda for at least a day, and you’ll have something to humble brag about when you go into work on Monday. I’m currently reading Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo which I’m almost finished with (no lie) and would 10/10 recommend. Here are a few other recommendations from the Milk Makeup office:
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby — recommended by Emily, our Editorial Director
Exit West by Mohsin Ahmed — recommended by Edelawit, our Producer
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — recommended by Genise, our Manager
Try Some Trivia
If you’re into games, or if you don’t live under a rock like I do, you’ve probably heard of HQ, the super-addictive live trivia game that everyone is downloading. The deal is this: you download the app and then, twice a day (at 3 PM and 9 PM EST), you tune in and answer twelve multiple choice trivia Qs. Get them all right and you win a slice of that day’s winnings. Get a single question wrong and you get nothing. I’ve yet to try it because I’m told I have an addictive personality, but if you decide to try it, LMK how it is.
Time for a Trance
If all else fails, you can always try taking up a new wellness-related hobby. A snow day is the perfect chance to zone out before the year picks up speed. I downloaded the meditation app Headspace this summer and was a devoted user for almost a month, which is honestly the longest that I’ve ever nurtured a wellness habit. It’s beginner-friendly and easy to navigate, with guided meditations by a guy named Andy who speaks in a chill, dulcet tone that almost puts me to sleep. If your well-intentioned attempt at getting into meditation turns into a four-hour nap, then so be it.