How to Beat the Winter Doldrums and Bring in More Joy

Trista Signe Ainsworth

Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

― Rumi

Ever since yesterday, I have had a case of the winter doldrums. It comes every year, around this time in January. Even when I stand in appreciation of all of the blessings in my heart, the darkness of winter remains.

I find myself searching for that extra inner spark. Here in Oregon, the rain goes on for days and days. The holidays are over, and the shine of the new year has worn off.

Could my joy be in clearing out my dry goods drawers? No, I did not find it while I decanted some mini marshmallows into a jar. It was not in the rearranging of decorative items or creating a space for leftover chocolates.

Where is it then?

This morning I started to find it. I thought about two friends who have a birthday on the same day.

How can I bring joy to them?

I found some lemons and limes in my refrigerator. I can make some delicious curd out of them as a gift.

I found my joy today in thinking of my sister in law. She had an accident and hurt her arm. I can send her a get-well box with lots of love for her recovery.

Showing love to others is bringing the spark back.

An unlikely thing that made me smile was that there is now a styrofoam recycling center nearby. For months I have had bags of that material waiting for a home. I am inspired to pack up all of our recyclables and go on a tour to drop them off.

Here is what I have found that may help you if you find yourself with a case of the winter doldrums:

Be okay with sitting in the space for a while:

It is normal to feel a bit down this time of year, especially if you live in a Northern climate where it is gray, rainy, and cold for many months at a time. I love Oregon with all of my heart. However, the gray skies can get to me after a while.

I have learned after many years that it is normal to not be okay for a while. There will be days when I have to search a little more for my joy. That is part of being a human being.

In an online course, I learned the other day that sometimes you have to allow a space to be there. You do not have to fill it up with an activity or try to feel better right away. Yesterday I did a lot of wandering, and it felt good to let go.

The space between joy and the doldrums needs to exist sometimes. Within that space, it allows us to find something new. Maybe our inner being is trying to point us towards another direction in our lives.

Try some different activities:

Sometimes we just need to try several different activities to find what will bring us more joy.


Yesterday I had a radical thought during decluttering. I thought about getting rid of most of our possessions and moving into a small cabin. I have gone through our home many times, I often think about how peaceful it would be to radically give up most of our stuff.

Although this is a dream best saved for retirement, I find the thought experiment to be a relaxing pastime. It also helps me let go of more things that I have not used in the past year. I think I am now ready to revisit the garage and give away more things.

Since I am a professional organizer, decluttering is often on my go-to list when I need a lift. It is so funny to admit that I was thrilled when my son said it was okay to declutter his room this week.

Travel Shows:

After working to change our own environment, sometimes a change of scenery like a travel movie or show is in order.

Every day on YouTube, I watch videos about food tours or restaurants in London or Paris. Those are the two places I would love to go to when it is possible to travel. It is fun to explore these places through these personal videos.

I also found a fun travel series on Netflix called Twogether. It is about an actor and a musician from Korea and Taiwan. They studied each other’s languages before the trip. They also speak quite a bit of English, so they can communicate.

They travel together to six Asian destinations, lead by clues their fans leave for them. On each leg of the trip, they can meet with one of their fans. It is such a heartwarming and sweet show.


Especially right now, a change of scenery, however slight, can make a big difference. I do not suggest it is necessary to run out and buy all new furniture. You can subtly redecorate just by subtracting a few pieces and placing different ones. I love to rotate what I have on display in my china cabinet and my tables.

It is a perfect opportunity to take stock of what you have and what you might want to give away. I found a couple of pieces that I am ready to part with and others that bring me joy when I look at them.

Rotating what you have on display keeps the energy of your home fresh. It can breathe a bit of joy into your life. My surroundings are beginning to make me feel better the more that I tinker with them.

Think of a friend or a loved one:

Do you have a friend or loved one going through some tough times right now? Thinking of ways that you can bring them joy will help you at the same time.

As I mentioned above, I am smiling as I think of the gifts that I can make and send to give some happiness to my friends on their birthdays and healing to my loved ones.

No matter how difficult a day may seem, there is always someone you can bring joy to. I believe that when we begin to focus on others, our world opens up. That can bring us more abundance in the form of ideas and joy to our hearts.

My wish for you today is that you find your joy even in the depths of winter.

What helps you beat a case of the winter doldrums? Please share with me in the comments below!

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I am a local food and drink adventurer! Find out the latest about delicious food around Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Oregon, and beyond.

Hillsboro, OR

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