Things To Do Before Spring

If you live in a northern climate where the winters are snow covered and barren, you may be hoping that spring is right around the corner. You’re not alone. Thankfully you can help alleviate the dreary feeling of winter, by getting a head start on your planning.

Get Outside
Even though winter is still with us, and will be for a few more weeks, warm days may still be in the forecast for your area. Many places have warm days towards the end of February and the beginning of March, so take advantage of them. There is nothing like a brisk walk to lift your spirits. So, put on your boots, grab your gloves along with a warm sweatshirt, and head out to your favorite trail. Don’t live in a rural area, where trails are readily available? Drive down to your nearest town center, and hit the sidewalks. Grab yourself a coffee or hot chocolate, and window shop. Sometimes just getting out of the house can help put us in a better mood, so don’t let winter keep you inside. Go out and explore.

Plan Your Summer Vacation
One of the great things about spring is that summer is just around the corner. Get yourself in an adventurous mindset, by scouting out places to visit this summer. You don’t need to take an expensive tropical vacation to have fun. Many states have local landmarks you can visit, that would make a great vacation for the whole family. Start searching the Web or picking up brochures at your local visitor’s center to find new places to visit this summer. This will no doubt give you something to look forward to in the months ahead.

Redecorate Your Home
Still have winter decorations hanging in your home? Take them down, and replace them with items that remind you of spring. Put vases of fresh cut flowers in various rooms throughout your home, and change the color scheme of your curtains. Throw rugs and other decorative items to reflect the soft natural colors of the season. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery, to remind you that spring really is on its way.

Start Your Garden Early
Ok, so maybe the ground is still frozen, and maybe you can’t start planting until mid-May, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t start planning your summer garden. Many flowers, herbs, and other plants can be started from seeds right inside your home. If you’re not sure what to plant, ask around at your local garden center, and search the Web for plants that do well when started from seeds. Next, think about the garden space you have around your home, and draw a map of where you want to plant each item. This will not only help lift your mood, but you will also have a plan for your garden already in place, when the time comes to put your seedlings in the ground.

Take Out Your Spring Clothes
If you’re like me, you have all of your winter clothes readily available during the cold months, and have your other clothes packed away in a closet, just waiting to be taken out for the warm weather. Don’t wait until the weather turns warm to go through your clothes; pull them out now, and get the process started. Not only will this inspire you, it will also give you an idea of which clothes you need to replace, and which can be worn for another season. By the time spring arrives, you will be ahead of schedule and ready to get out and enjoy the season.

Go Shopping
Now’s the time to take advantage of sales on warm weather items. Retailers start early when it comes to planning for spring, so take advantage of the sales by going shopping. Plus, now that you know which clothes need to be replaced, you likely have a better idea of what you need to buy to spruce up your wardrobe. You don’t have to shop only for clothes either. If there are decorative items for your home, or gardening tools that you will need this year, get out and shop for them too.

Winter is a tough time of year, especially if you live in a cold climate. The short days and long nights are enough to depress anyone. Curb your dull mood by preparing yourself for spring. Before you know it, warmer days will be right around the corner, and you’ll be prepared to enjoy them to their fullest.

Family Games Can Help Ease Tensions

Psychologists have long studied ways to enhance family harmony and interrelations. Some of the most widely suggested therapies to increase harmony between family members, are to develop good communications, be honest and approachable, and enter into every relationship with openness and a pleasant demeanor.

All three of those suggestions can easily be combined into one simple enjoyable family therapy session with a good game. For young children, board games are an excellent way to develop positive thinking skills, creative competition, and healthy attitudes toward winning and losing. Whether playing sports or a board game, everyone involved wants to win, and parents should encourage and teach their children, the ways of winning. But it is equally important for family members to learn to lose gracefully. In every game there is at least one winner, but there is also one loser.

The psychology lab at North Carolina State University recruited a group of families to take part in a study of family relations, playing a game called Life Stories. “Every family has issues, so we asked them to engage and talk about some of the issues that matter to them,” said Dr. Amy Halberstadt, an associate professor at N.C. State. Halberstadt wanted to know how different families respond to serious issues in the home, so they developed the study to research how families respond to issues raised during games they play.

Halberstadt believes that games themselves can reduce stress in the home, and improve relationships between family members. She calls the process the 5-to-1 ratio. “So if you can boost your positive conversations, compliment, positive experiences; to have 5 of those for every one conflict or negative experience, that really seems to benefit families,” said Halberstadt.

The Life Stories game is a typical roll-the-dice board game, where you move a character around the board and draw cards. But the questions on the cards get players talking about their emotions, values, and issues in family life at home. The issues that arise while playing the game give Halberstadt clues to how the family handles issues in their own lives. Using the game, Halberstadt is able to help families discuss “shared goals” as a way to reduce conflicts.