Mid-January begs for an extra helping of cheer. This weekend, stay healthy and well with a few small tweaks around the house (for instance, getting the humidity balance right), and then make some time for the little things — like feeding the birds and buying flowers — that lift your spirits.
1. Increase entryway lighting. The days are getting longer bit by bit, but we still have quite a ways to go before it feels light in the early mornings and evenings. Fight off dreariness by adding an extra light or using a brighter bulb, if possible, on the front porch and inside your home’s entrance.
2. Focus on making one room cozier. Is there a corner of your home you wish felt a bit comfier? Use this weekend to troubleshoot the problem area and bring in some cozy comforts. Sometimes a little tidying up and adding a few more plump pillows is all it takes to love your room again.
3. Disinfect germ-y surfaces. It’s cold and flu season, and if anyone in your house has been sick, be sure to clean and disinfect surfaces to prevent further spreading of germs. Pay special attention to kitchen surfaces and frequently touched items like doorknobs, cell phones and remote controls. Wash laundry in hot water if possible, and use the hot or “sanitize” setting on your dishwasher if you have one.
And if you’re the one who’s not feeling good, set your to-do list aside and focus on feeling better. You deserve a proper sick day, complete with soft blankets, hot chicken soup and a stack of your favorite movies and books at your fingertips.
4. Plan travels for the year ahead. If the weather outside isn’t cooperating with your weekend plans, don’t fret — use the time at home to dream up travel plans for the year ahead. Mark dates on your calendar, research destinations and (if you’re ready to commit) get ahead of the game by setting up that pet sitter or house sitter now.
5. Keep humidity levels in balance. With the windows shut and heaters running, winter can be a beast when it comes to maintaining healthy levels of humidity in the home. Humidity between 40-50% is ideal: Too low and germs may spread more easily; too high and mold may become a problem. If the air in your home is too dry, adding a humidifier can do wonders. If you have the opposite problem (with moisture building up inside windows), first be sure you’re using your home’s exhaust fans when cooking or bathing (or open a window) — if that doesn’t do the trick, you may need to invest in a dehumidifier.
6. Provide clean water and food for wild birds. Winter can be tough for non-migrating birds. Be kind to them by supplying fresh water for drinking and bathing, plus high-quality birdseed — and then enjoy the sight of grateful feathered friends stopping by to fuel up.
7. Treat yourself to fresh flowers. Just because nothing’s growing in the garden doesn’t mean you have to go entirely without the cheer of colorful flowers. Treat yourself to a bouquet of tulips at the market, or pick up a potted orchid for a longer-lasting flower fix.