Whether winter has got you down or you feel that life has been throwing you bloopers, here are ten things you can do to keep your spirits up when times are tough: (Source: creativedubuque.com)

1. Think about what you do have. Take time to be thankful for things that you may usually take for granted, such as your material possessions and positive relationships with other people. For instance, if you’ve got the gas bill paid and a winter coat that zips, celebrate it! Ditto, take time to appreciate the people in your life, such as a caring spouse or an attentive child, or a steady friend or patient teacher.

2. Consider how things could be worse. One trick to snap out of feeling sorry for yourself is to compare yourself to others in more awful situations. Read about the latest catastrophe in the world news, or listen to somebody else’s story of hardship. This will give you a perspective on your own troubles. Really, things could be worse.

3. Exercise. Physical activity sends beneficial hormones moving through your system and helps you work off negative feelings. Low impact exercise ideas for the winter include simply stretching or moving to music, riding an exercise bicycle, or going mall walking. Whatever you do, move your body in order to make yourself feel better.

4. Eat well. Stock your home with nutritious food and avoid high fat or high calorie junk food. Limit foods like pop, potato chips, and red meat; and take in more green tea, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. What you put into your body will negatively or positively impact your health and your mood.

5. Focus on a hobby. Use an interesting activity to give yourself a mental break. Create or build something to move your focus to a place beyond your worries. Ideas include quilting, baking, painting, carpentry, or even auto repair. While you relax into your hobby, you’ll also grow as a person.

6. Play music. Everyone knows that a powerful song can take you outside yourself. “I go back,” sings Kenny Chesney, in response to certain songs he hears. You can use listening to music as a kind of mental therapy. Turn on the radio in your car to lessen anxiety during a long commute. Listen to someone play an instrument, or play one yourself, to put your mind on another level, away from trouble.

7. Be near positive people. Touch base with friends or family members who are caring and supportive. Steer clear of highly critical or negative people. Make contact with the people surrounding you instead of mulling over your troubles in isolation. The reward of a smile or laugh from a friendly face can boost your mood and help you endure tough times.

8. Clean house. Ideally, your home should serve as a safe refuge and calming place, but clutter and mess will add to daily stress. Take a little time every day to wash or tidy your living space. The smell of clean laundry or the sight of a vacuumed carpet or a newly uncluttered corner can provide personal satisfaction.

9. Write in a journal. Many people find that writing down feelings in a private journal will help them understand what’s going on in their lives. You can use a journal as a private place to  record and explore feelings, vent if you want, try out new ideas, and safely spill upsetting thoughts, so you can move onward with more clarity.

10. Face the future with optimism. Since nothing lasts forever, not even trouble, eventually even the bad stuff fades away. When life slams you with a tough situation, you must sometimes simply be miserable …for a while. Let yourself cry and then consider it a learning experience that builds you into a stronger person. Try to move with optimism toward the future, carrying the hope that things will get better. Before you know it, your optimism will ring true, and happy times will return again.