5 Fab Ways to Brighten Your Life

After the holidays, the snow is reliably dirty, its grayish color the perfect complement to the sky’s own dismal hue. But gray’s just a state of mind, and changing it is your prerogative.  Try the following:

1. Redecorate. If the gloomy weather’s making your home feel like Gray Gardens, make a change. Making even minor home changes can brighten up the most dour of spaces.
Buckingham Interiors + Design LLC founder Julia Buckingham Edelmann suggests repainting a room or even just an old piece of furniture.

“The right shade of blue can brighten even the most dismal Chicago day,” says Edelmann, who recommends Benjamin Moore “Sheer Romance,” Farrow and Ball “Lulworth Blue” or C2 “Nuance.”

2. Move. Humans are closely related to every other living creature on Earth, so it’s not so surprising many of us find hibernation as appealing as our bear brethren do.  Especially when hibernation includes flannel sheets, a stack of magazines and a piece of moist chocolate pound cake (or pick your poison).

As comfy as this scenario sounds, it leaves only depression in its wake.  But exercise is a reliable antidote to the winter blues.

“Once you start moving, it becomes addictive,” says Alan Dobois, the Fitness Director for the Evanston Athletic Club.  “That first workout might seem difficult, but you’ll feel better afterward.”

3. Travel. According to scientists, the brain responds to new experiences by releasing the same kind of feel-good chemicals released during exercise and sex.

So go somewhere new, exotic and blissfully warm.  You’ll feel energized upon your return.

4. Laugh. No joke, laughter yoga–a specific form of yoga that combines “unconditional laughter” with standard yoga breathing techniques–is gaining in popularity.  Sure, a group of people giggling looks a little ridiculous—but it’s also funny!  If you don’t have much to laugh about, the good news is, you can fake it.

Recruit a brave friend, hit the mall and start cackling—the louder the better. Faux ha-ha’s quickly become real guffaws.  And your mood will reflect it.

5. Give. For the past 30 years, Winnetka resident Kathy Stebbins has belonged to a choir that sings at different nursing homes, rehab facilities and senior citizen’s centers every Thursday.

“It’s a wonderful way to give back, get outside yourself and think about other people,” Stebbins says.  “There’s some Thursdays when you just don’t feel like it, but when you get there, you always feel better.”