How to Beat the Winter Blahs (and not just watch tv)

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Katie Donovan

It’s that chunk of time after dinner and before bed when it’s already dark and you’re too tired to do a lot of thinking and your body wants to relax.  Or it’s the weekend and there’s nothing going on and taking a walk or doing a winter sport in the single digits isn’t appealing.  What do you do to fill the time? 

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Most of us probably fill the time with tv.  Lots of it. 

I don’t like watching tv every night whether it’s Netflix, Hulu or cable, but it’s something easy, relaxing, and I get to bond with my husband over the characters.  What else can you do?

I’ve searched the internet  and read just about every article out there on the topic.  A lot of the activities the internet lists just don’t apply to people in the Upper Valley.  Can’t do that.  Nope, that either. 

To determine what other kinds of activities you can do to fill your time, consider why you watch tv in the first place.

Get to the Root of Why You Watch TV

I think we need to understand why we watch tv before we can unplug ourselves.

Do we watch to escape the world and our lives?

Do we watch to relax and be entertained?

Do we watch because there’s nothing else to do?

Do we watch to be informed?

Fill the Void

For me it was all of the above, depending on the day.   I enjoyed connecting with the storyline and characters in tv shows, predicting plot outcomes with my husband; getting renovation ideas on HGTV; and learning nature facts on the History Channel’s Alone.  Sometimes I just wanted to be entertained and watched So You Think You Can Dance.

When I spent more time out of the house, took up the hobby of blogging, and started reading again, I found I didn’t feel the desire to watch tv anymore.  I tried to figure out why and realized that the new activities I was doing fulfilled the reasons I watched tv in the first place.  Tv became something special to do and not an everyday thing, and I was okay with that balance.

It may sound simple, but what worked for me was to find another activity you enjoy that fulfills the reason you watch tv.  Fill your time with another activity that is productive and purposeful, which will be different for each person.

Need a Way to Escape Reality?

Read a good book.  You can see a list of bookstores here and find a book club. Scratch in Lebanon has book groups for adults, middle schoolers, and high schoolers.  There’s even a writer’s club for teens (both middle and high school). 

Better yet write your own or read someone else’s online.  I love the illustrations you can use as inspiration for your story at Storybird and the wide variety of fiction and poetry you can read at Figment.  These two websites were created specifically for young adults, but has grown to include a lot of adults and published authors too.

Locally you can find writer’s groups and take classes at the White River Junction Writing Center.  You can even use your creative writing juices at the Upper Valley NHVT website, which welcomes local contributors. 

Try a New Activity

Want to relax and be entertained? Try these tips.  I think I’ll try #3 and 10 sometime. Want to learn something new?  This is a list of awesome sites to learn something new, definitely something I want to dig deeper into.

Try a Board Game

Board games just never inspired my husband and we decided it was the type of games we had.  There’s a game store half a hour from home.  I hope to try out some board games with him before buying to see if he’d be interested.  Ideally I’d like to rent a board game that I can pick up and bring home and return to the store since my husband and I have different hours and driving a half an hour to play games doesn’t seem very appealing unless it’s a special occasion.  Plus now we have a little one and that makes it even more interesting to manage. Gameboardgeek has a lot of forums and good ideas of board games.  Here are some lists to get you started:

If you have kids this has some good ideas for ideas after little ones are in bed and you're tired.  If you are a couple looking for 2 player games I like how these lists comment on the wife and husband's take on the game so you can see if it would fit your tastes. List 1.  List 2.  And of course the ultimate list of other other lists people created if you really want to dive deep into the best two player games.  

There are places to play board games and do some trivia in the Upper Valley too.

Try a hobby 

We could also tackle a new learning experience or hobby together. My husband and I both want to brush up on our French but is that too much work for an evening?  Is there a fun way of doing it?  Maybe for a ½ hour?  This website looks like a great place to get ideas.  More ideas of hobbies for couples here and here.

If you’re still stuck here’s my plan of attack and I hope it helps you too:

1.    Have a go-to list for when you’re bored

2.    Plan and prepare the activity or you’ll find it’s easier to just sit and watch tv. Once the beautiful weather arrives yard work, afternoon/evening walks, hikes, day trips all seem more doable.  Still planning is essential for us….  You sit on the couch and say I’m bored I’m tired of watching tv – what else is there to do? I don’t know. Spur of the moment doesn’t work for a play or music venue.  Of course if you lived in the city this would be a problem as well but it’s more likely you’d be able to find something to do that was free and at a time that would work spur of the moment because there’s so much more available.

3.    Look for ideas at Upper Valley Fun, the Daily UV, and the ValleyNews for ideas on things to do.

4.    Find a place to volunteer if you have the time.  Here’s a link to ways to volunteer

5.    Organize a night with friends to play games, cook, learn a skill/task together.

6.    Read a book with your partner and discuss.

7.    Take a seasonal activity and make it special by only doing it once a year or making it different: like drinking hot chocolate and making gingerbread houses or baking a certain type of cookie once a year.  Having fun sometimes is about doing something different from the ordinary, which can take work and creativity.

8.    If these don’t pan out you can always connect with the tv shows you watch by predicting and discussing characters.

I really like all the ideas on hobbies for couples and hope some of the ideas will work for my husband and I and hope they can for you too.

May life bring you lots of new joyous memories.  All the best on your journey to beating the winter blahs. 

What do you to beat the winter blahs?

Want to learn more?  Check out my blog at The Thankful Spoon, watch inspirational videos or read the latest posts on my Facebook, or get some inspiration with my poetry on Instagram.


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