Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beat The Winter Blues

If you didn't get the memo, that darned groundhog is predicting six more weeks of winter! So, what do you plan to do with all that time? It's so easy to get cabin fever this time of year, as most of us spend the days endlessly pining away for a spring thaw. Well, don't let the winter blues get you beat, there is plenty to do that will not only get you out of the house but keep you warm in the process. Here are some ideas of ways you and your family can still enjoy yourself through the remaining winter months.


Bowling is a great game to play in large groups! It's easy to learn and it's fun no matter what your skill level or age. Playing in groups also leaves time to be social between turns. Most alleys also have pool tables and darts to mix it up and make the fun last! Think you're a pro? Consider joining a league to play on a regular basis. Visit GoBowling to find an alley near you!


Most towns have a roller skating rink or indoor ice skating rink. This is a great way to get moving! Sure, it might be a little difficult for beginners, but the learning curve is fairly quick. For those who have significant others, it's a great romantic activity as well. Nothing beats cruising in the dark while holding the hand of your sweetheart. Check your local rinks for open skates and special themes such as family skate and adults-only.


Arcades have come a long way since the 80's! Although they usually carry most of the classics, technology has advanced considerably and have made games much more interactive. Places like GameWorks and Dave & Buster's have perfected the adult appeal to game playing, and then there is the classic Chuck E. Cheese for the kiddies. All arcades contain some games for the little ones and they will love working for tickets to redeem prizes. Adults will especially enjoy racing and target shooting games. Like bowling alleys, many contain pool tables and air hockey, which is just another great way to go one on one.


Ever dreamed of hunting your friends down like the animals they are? Laser tag is a pretty harmless way to get into the action without risking bodily harm. Unlike games such as paint ball, the only thing you'll feel is the weight of the laser vest on your chest and shoulders. The game consists of a small group of people chasing each other around in a glow in the dark room and shooting with laser guns. Every time you hit a target on another person you are awarded points. But don't turn your back or someone will sneak up and pulverize you!


You may notice a booklet that comes in the mail every season with a list of adult enrichment classes. This is your opportunity to learn something new and what better time? How about ethnic cooking or cake decorating? Music lovers will enjoy dance classes or learning beginner guitar and piano. Crafts such as sewing, quilting, knitting and scrap booking are a relaxing way to pass the time. The athletic types will enjoy martial arts and defense classes. If you want to learn something you can put to use in your career, then consider a software class. No matter what you choose, you will learn a new trade and have fun doing it.


Along with Enrichment classes, you can take many types of fitness courses to fulfill that New Year's Resolution. You can choose classes on aerobics, pilates, yoga, cycling, aqua, cardio and more! Whatever your interest, there is sure to be a class you would enjoy. The most important thing is that you sign up for something you know will keep you motivated to come back. If you get bored with one class, don't hesitate to switch. Find what works for you! Visit GymTicket to find a workout facility near you.


Many sports can be played indoors, so if you're more interested in games to fulfill your workout, look to indoor activity centers such as a local business, gymnasium or YMCA. There are many facilities designed specifically for basketball, volleyball, batting cages, golfing, hockey, tennis, racket ball, ping pong, lacrosse and soccer. Just because there is snow on the ground doesn't mean you can't still take part in your favorite activity! You'd be surprised how many options you have in your own town if you do a little research.


Love to swim? Well, it's not just for summer! Consider taking the family to an indoor pool, or better yet, an indoor water park. These water parks are becoming very popular in the North and Midwest and seem to be popping up everywhere! Most are associated with a resort, so you can even make a weekend of it. If you're looking to save a little money, check out evening sessions as they usually shed a few dollars off the cost of admission. Many times these water parks contain the usual favorites such as top notch water slides, surf simulators, wave pools and lazy rivers. But if you don't have the luxury of living near an indoor water park, any pool will make a nice, relaxing get away!


If you're short of cash and still want a good work out you're in luck! A popular growing trend is mall walking. Get your running shoes on and get moving. People all over the country are taking to the mall to get out in a nice setting without having to brave the cold. At night it is also a safer alternative with its bright lights and strolling security. Who knows, you might even get some shopping done in the process. Oh wait, weren't we trying to save money?


If you're tired of going to the movies, because it's always the old standby, consider purchasing tickets to a live show instead. Not only is it more exciting, but you feel like you're part of the action. Some ideas to consider would be concerts, plays, musicals, stand-up comedy, ice shows, the circus, sporting events and talent shows. Do a search on Ticketmaster for a list of upcoming events or check your local paper for performances held at more intimate venues.


Are you more of the literary type? Perhaps a book club is just what you need! What better time of year to curl up with a good book? It would certainly be an added bonus to talk to others about it and share your thoughts afterward. One of the benefits to book clubs is that many meet in cozy little coffee houses, which makes for a great social setting. Grab a cappuccino or latte and prepare for a good discussion. Perhaps Reader's Circle would be a good website to begin finding a group that's just right for you. Even if you don't think a book club is your thing, it can be just as enjoyable to stop into your local Public Library, Borders or Barnes & Noble to catch up on your reading or studies.


Did anyone else notice that there is a mid-term election coming up? Get involved in a cause that means something to you and get your voice heard! Big things are happening in this great country of ours and things will only get better if good people take a stand. Whatever the issue, volunteers are sure to be needed and it's also a great way to meet new, like-minded people while contributing in a very critical way. You will also demonstrate to your family the importance of getting involved in the government process and how people can make a difference!


Last, but certainly not least, a perfect way to utilize your time during the Winter months is giving back to your community and to others. Perhaps now would be a good opportunity to donate your time to a favorite charity or help out in a ministry at your church. With the recent earthquakes in Haiti, there are plenty of ways to get involved. In your local community you could be a part of bringing cheer to nursing homes and hospitals, after all if you're feeling the winter blues imagine how it is for these people! If you are an animal lover, the Humane Society is always seeking volunteers. If you're not really sure where to start, call your church or check one of the many organizations we list on the website. Get a little reward for your time by taking part in the Give A Day, Get A Disney Day program. What better way to celebrate your child's efforts than with a free trip to a Disney park?

If after all that you still can't think of something to suit your taste, try browsing the MeetUp website. There is something for everyone, no matter how obscure their interests! Don't forget to also check your local publications for upcoming events. If you can't leave home but still want some ideas of things to do, why not host a theme night with your closest friends? Game night, movie marathon, karaoke, crafts, baking, sporting events...the possibilities are endless! Just remember, no matter what time of year it is, there are plenty of fun things to do, you just have to let those creative juices flow! While you're at it, take a moment to let us know what kind of things you do to chase away those winter blues.