Professional Practice

7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs

winter berry branch

January 1. The calendar is blank, a fresh year is before you. It is an awesome feeling. We head back to school refreshed (I hope) after time spent doing those things we love. We make resolutions to do better.

winter berry branch

… and then the month wears on. The weather is cold(er). The sunlit hours of the day are short. The art shows are looming. The calendar is filling up. Being stuck inside is wearing on everyone. The holiday pounds are still hanging around. Ah, how quickly the winter blahs can attack.

Keeping yourself rocking that new year’s motivation is important.

Here are a few ways to fight the winter blahs:

1. Re-Focus on Your Resolution!

I have been doing the one-word resolution for the last few years and I love it. Creating something with my word helps me keep it in focus throughout the year and it allows me to “get creative.”

2. Go Get Creative!

As art teachers, we are creative people, but it is easy to let the hustle and bustle of life get in the way of creating for ourselves. Setting aside time to create is so good for my mental well-being. Sometimes I work alone, sometimes with my kids and sometimes I invite my friends. No matter what, creating always is a good thing.

art studio

3. Challenge Yourself!

Is there a class you have been wanting to take? Is there something you have been wanting to learn? Make now is the time to do it. I have taken a Saturday class at our local art center, signed up for a book study at the library, and done free classes from the local college. Learning something new or doing something you didn’t know you could do is a great motivator.

4. Go Somewhere!

This doesn’t have to be a trip to Cabo (although that would be great) but getting out and going somewhere can be exciting. It can be as simple as a trip somewhere in town you don’t usually go or a weekend trip to a nearby destination. We are planning on taking our kids for an overnight shark reef camp out at the zoo this February. It’s definitely something to look forward to.

5. Get Active!

This time of year I can really start to feel sluggish. Going to exercise class, running on the treadmill, or taking my kids to the YMCA for swimming all help. It might seem counterproductive to get up at 5 am to work out but it really does help improve my productivity throughout the day.


6. Make a List!

This time of year at school can be daunting. There isn’t another break for a long time, the kids are cooped up, state testing and art shows are on the horizon. It can seem like a lot but we have done it before and we will do it again. It helps me keep my sanity when I simply write a list and check things off as I go. Making a list of art show due dates, state testing blocks, and deadlines for grades helps me keep my focus. It also prevents those “I forgot and now I am up all night” work sessions.

7. Make another List!

Keeping a separate list for home and personal items will keep things manageable. Plus, crossing things off of TWO lists will help you realize all you’re accomplishing. Be mindful when writing your to-do list to keep the tasks small. “Organize my bedroom closet” is a lot easier to check off the list than “Organize all the closets.” It is a silly mind trick I play on myself but it helps me feel more accomplished.

to do list

I hope the end of January finds you blasting through the winter blahs and staying motivated.

What new challenges are you tackling this year?

What fun ways do you beat the blahs?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Carlisle

Jennifer Carlisle, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She loves exploring and teaching art through both traditional and digital art mediums.

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