Winter is coming around the corner and everyone is getting excited to start booking their holiday escapes. As the winter winds come in and the snow starts building up, we all want to disappear and spend our days kicking up our feet on the beach; but we don't have to wait for winter to unwind, or spend thousands of dollars on expensive vacations. Here's a few things we can do that feel great year round, and don't cost us too much (or any!) money. Enjoy.
1. Watching a sunset or sunrise
If you have the time, try getting out to a local lookout point and watching the sun set, either alone or with a friend or special person. Don't take your phone out; just meditate in the moment. Watch the silhouettes of the trees, feel the change in the air, gaze out into the world as the sun goes down and the moon shows up – find peace. It will be a moment alone, maybe somewhere new, with undisturbed beauty. Likewise, if you can get up to watch the sun rise, another epiphany may be upon you; feel good that you've taken the time to watch the spectacle of a new day, and think of all the great things a new day means for you.
2. Feeding some animals
If you're lucky enough to have a local nature park or reserve nearby, (perhaps even a central park), take a bit of bread or nuts and go out with a friend or relative to feed the animals. Imagine it's a nice, sunny day and you have a couple of tiny chipmunks stuffing peanuts into their face right out of your hand. When we play with dogs we have an interaction with them that feels very humanlike – they can understand us and feel our energy. But so can the wild animals that are around us everyday. There's an interesting and friendly energy about becoming in tune with wild local animals that we don't get too often. Take the time to find it.
3. Singing out loud
We have to be reserved these days, given our close proximity living quarters and having to uphold social qualities. But don't you just feel like screaming out loud sometimes? It doesn't have to be out of anger or frustration – it could be joy, or success! Well then, let's do it. Where do you like to sing loudest? If you have a house you might be able to enjoy a quick shower concert, but if you're stuck in an apartment with thin walls, that luxury may not be so present. Try getting in a car and singing to your heart's content, or going out for a karaoke night. Singing releases endorphins in our brain that make us feel good. So don't be shy – let it out!
4. Tell stories with someone
If you need to relax, there's a good chance something is on your mind. Getting together with someone to talk and tell stories can get our mind off things, or help us put the matter of contention at rest. Talking to someone you confide in helps us deal with our issues and grow a stronger connection with others. We get to laugh, relax, feel good, and share common ground with someone else. We discover that our problems are pretty much universal, and nothing to worry about.
5. Listening to nature
When was the last time you heard absolute silence, or just the sounds of the natural world around you? It's not something that we get the privilege of listening to too often, thanks to the fact that we live in such large cities and mostly in human clusters. We are busy listening to cars, phone chatter and shopping malls. Try to go for a nice walk around a local park or natural area and take in all the sounds of the different birds, animals and winds. Let your mind clear out and find peace where you otherwise couldn't find it.
6. Go swimming
Who needs to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation to a sunny place when you can replicate it at home? We love the beach and sun, which we might not have at home, but something else we love is the feeling of free floating in water. Check online or through your friends for local listings and try to track down a nice swimming pool nearby your home or community. Go with some friends and have fun with it – you'll forget all your worries when you're free floating in the nice water, eyes closed, troubles drifting away.
Smiling is maybe something we take for granted, but it's something we should all practice more often. You should get out of bed with a smile on your face and go to bed with one too – start and end the day fresh. If you can get into the habit of being able to smile at yourself and laugh at leisure, you will be unstoppable. Smiling is attractive and powerful – it makes everyone around you feel good, yourself included.
8. Go for a tan
This is particularly stated for people in places with heavy winters. The sun has retired for months and we all hibernate in what seems like year round darkness. People who live in these climates experience a high lack of Vitamin D due to the absence of the sun, and seasonal affective disorder starts kicking in, sending many people spiralling through depression. Combat this with a short tanning session at a local salon every now and then. It aims to replicate the same feeling that being in the sun gives us, and will steer you towards a better mood.