The Christmas lights are gone. New Year’s fireworks are over. It is now officially the darkest time of the year. Not to mention dreary leaf-lessness, complicated by cold and rain – or snow – or avalanches, depending upon location and wind direction.

Dogs and cats curls up. Bears and small animals hibernate. Amphibians and reptiles freeze solid.

It’s a winter wonderland.

But for those who are feeling more freezing than festive, January can be a long, cold slog.

“I hate this time of year,” a friend recently said with unmistakable vehemence. The sincerity prompted me to come up with my list of fixes for January. Here’s what I’m going to do to get through month numero uno.

My Swedish friends have a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Then they set about proving it by staying active outside all Arctic winter long. Nine million beautiful blonde people can’t be all wrong. And you get to go shopping without guilt.

Now, what to do with the new merch?

Walk my puppy, even in the rain and cold. Yes, I realize this isn’t an option but putting it on the positive side of the ledger makes me feel better about it. I’m getting exercise and using what sun I can get. You might borrow someone else’s dog for a moment. All the fun without the carpet cleaner.

Exercise. Kind of the same thing but more focused on me. Again, I’m telling myself exercise is a positive. Because it is, right? No, really.

Now, do something fun out of the house: museum, hockey, football, polar bear swim, Swedish sauna, hike in the mountains, ski. Watching is okay.

If you really suffer from lack of sun, take vitamin D and get a light box like they do in Seattle.

Okay. Now I’m invigorated. What next?

Bears hibernate. Dogs curl up. Maybe they’re onto something. Since Edison’s invention, most of us are sleep deprived. Now that you’re exhausted, nap up, sleep in, try not to think about September baby booms.

All caught up? Now what?

Movie night! Don’t even rent/buy a new one. Celebrate the old and use that DVD you bought in 1908. You know you like it.

NCIS marathon. Most popular show on TV and my personal fav, but a little dark sometimes.

Big Bang marathon. The cure for NCIS. Smart people less well-adjusted than you are.

A fire! Nothing like a real one. If you don’t have a fireplace (I don’t currently) find a restaurant with one. My Starbucks keeps one going all winter. Candles if you can’t. But be careful; carbon monoxide is a real downer.

Make something! I got a sketch book for Christmas, just for fun. Carve something. Knit. Macrame. Digital art doesn’t count here. There’s something about doing a physical thing that really works.

Write something. You can use the computer for this. Even if it’s cataloging family stories or purging your worries into a journal. Getting things out of your head and onto paper leaves room for new thoughts in your brain.

Play with your kid’s Christmas presents. You know you want to.

Read a great book or two. Not for self-improvement but just for a fun, purposeful escape. Amazon it or go to the library and find a new favorite author for free.

Music. Pick up that old guitar. Sing. Write a maudlin song about January. Or just make a new January playlist and dance to it.

Chocolate. Enough said.

Friends. Even people you don’t like can boost your immune system and make you happier than being alone.

Go to church. Pray for someone other than yourself. Do something for someone who’s having a rough time. Read scriptures. Renew your sense of purpose. Find a mission. Forgive someone. Think outside of yourself and your circle for a change. You won’t have time to worry about the dark.

January is all about attitude. Attack it. Seize the J!

The days are already getting longer. It won’t be long.

That’s my cure for January. What about yours?


Photo: Seattle at night by Will Merydith via Flickr