Cold Weather Coming? 9 Frugal Ways to Improve Your Mood

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As summer transitions into fall, these activities can make us feel better and don’t cost very much, if anything at all.

Autumn is coming, sooner than I’d like to acknowledge. Although the days are still mild (50 to 60 degrees), the angle of the sun has changed, making its rays seem tentative and transitory. That is, when the sun can be seen – it’s been raining a lot, too.

Where you live might still feel summery right now, but you know the change in seasons is coming. Those of you who live in places where the seasons don’t alter that much can go ahead and feel supremely lucky, or downright smug if you like. The rest of us will come up with such coping mechanisms as are necessary to get us through the transition.

Or through the season itself: Winter can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. I’ll be pulling out the seasonal affective disorder light box eventually. Right now we’re leaning on a handful of things that make us feel better and don’t cost very much. In fact, some of them cost nothing at all.

1. Open the windows

Do this while you still can! Even if it’s raining I open the windows just a bit, to get some air moving and to fill the house with the smell of rain. Yes, I know it doesn’t have a fragrance as such, but the world smells lovely during a shower. This might not work for everyone, e.g., someone with severe allergies or someone in the middle of one of those monster Phoenix dust storms.

2. Hang your bedding outdoors

Again, not the best idea if you’re experiencing a lot of grit or live next door to a lutefisk factory. But when there’s a little sun we throw the comforter, blankets and pillows outside. If you don’t have a clothesline, drape the bedding over a drying rack or a balcony railing. How lovely to go to sleep inhaling the fragrance of that day’s sun and wind.

3. Take a walk

Even if it’s just around the block, the change in scenery has a surprisingly big impact. And if it’s drizzling, so much the better: I’m happy to come back into a house that had started to feel a little claustrophobic.

4. Funny animals

You just knew I’d bring up cat photos, didn’t you? But it doesn’t have to be LOLCats. Just do a Swagbucks search for “funny (whatever animal you love) pictures.” Myself, I find both blobfish and pink fairy armadillos pretty giggle-inducing. There’s just something inexplicably hilarious about pink animals.

5. Scalp massage

Much more fun if someone does it for you, but rubbing your own head (or at least your temples and forehead) is very relaxing. If it’s invigoration you need, try a brisk hair-brushing.

6. Tidy up

A cluttered living space can lead to disorganized thinking, depression or maybe even a minor household accident. You don’t have to scrub the floor with a toothbrush, but having a cleaner, well-organized place will lift your spirits.

7. Cook something cheap and tasty

A skillet of cornbread, a pot of black bean chili, a plate of deviled eggs, a batch of oatmeal cookies – all inexpensive and delicious ways to perfume the house and whet appetites.

8. Read!

Take time away from all the things you think you have to do and sit down with a good book, or wade through your pile of unread magazines.

9. Take a hot bath

Hydrotherapy is terrific, especially if you have lavender-scented bubble bath and a couple of rubber ducks. (I’m told.)

OK, readers: What are your favorite frugal mood enhancers?

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Stacy Johnson

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