January is a hard month. It’s right after the holidays. We’re all a little heavier and have a little less money. It’s cold and sunny days seem few-and-far-between. The “winter blues” have set in.

I’ve found myself having to make an effort on a daily basis to stay motivated and have to make a conscience effort through the cold months to keep my energy up.

Here are a couple of my daily tricks that help keep my spirits lifted through the dredge of a long winter.


1. Brighten up your house with something living

It’s cold and sad and dead outside. An arrangement of fresh flowers does wonders to brighten up a room—especially in the winter time. Cut flowers only last 3-4 days though before they start looking sad (the opposite of what we are trying to do here!). That’s why, in recent years, I’ve started to really love house plants. Not the gross weird large green office plants you’re thinking of but things like herbs, ferns and bulbs.

I picked up the lavender plant above for $11 at the grocery the other day and simply transferred it to a terra-cotta pot I already had. It smells so good and has brought so much joy to my kitchen counter.

Tulips and Fern

My kitchen table looked so sad once all the Christmas decor had been put away. I bought these tulip bulbs from the grocery too (can you believe that?!). They are so fun to watch grow and get taller every day. I also am in love with this Maiden Hair Fern I planted in a white serving dish months and months ago—I’m so proud I’ve kept it alive!

Kale Soup

2. Eat healthy

A big part of my energy comes from what I eat. It’s so important to make sure we are getting the nutrients our bodies need especially during the cold months when we aren’t out-and-about as much as usual. I’ve been starting off every morning with my Kale Green Smoothie.

Winter also calls for “comfort foods” which don’t have to be unhealthy. I made-up this Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Tortellini Soup the other night while watching the Golden Globes. It was warm and comforting but also packed full of protein, fiber and antioxidants.

Spicy Sausage, Kale and Whole Wheat Tortellini Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 portabella mushroom head sliced into 1/4 inch cubes
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley diced
1 Tablespoon fresh sage diced
1 whole dried bay leaf
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 pound spicy vegetable or turkey sausage
1 package of whole wheat cheese tortellini (9 oz. package)
4 cups fresh kale, remove from stems and torn into pieces
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion with the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and stir. Cook until onions soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the mushrooms, garlic, sage, bay leaf and sage and cook for 3 more minutes, then add the chicken stock, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil.

While the stock is heating up, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing (if it’s in casing) and add it to the skillet. Cook until the sausage is browned, about 6 to 8 minutes, breaking it into smaller pieces (or whatever size you desire) with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.

When the stock is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, just until it’s al dente. Add the kale and stir well, cooking for 2 more minutes. Stir in the cheese, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. You can add all of the sausage into the soup or serve the soup into bowls and add the sausage on top per serving. Serve with extra cheese for grating. Make sure to turn the heat off underneath the soup to prevent the noodles and kale from getting soggy.


3. Exercise

I know what you’re thinking … ugg eat right and exercise, tell me something new! … but I swear nothing will help lift your spirits and boost your energy more than exercise.

I really love Pure Barre and love to go whenever I can get motivated. It’s relaxing and challenging. I LOVE to feel soar the day after a workout and Pure Barre always makes my gluts, abs and triceps burn. When I can’t get the motivation or don’t have time to get to the gym, I love to do Pure Barre or Tracy Anderson DVD’s at home. I can do them in my pajamas if I want! No excuse!


4. Take time to relax

I have a cup-of-tea morning ritual. Some have a coffee addiction. Instead of grabbing it on the go, I love to sit in my kitchen and enjoy mine. It’s a great time for your morning devotional, meditation or just take a moment to sit in silence and wrap your head around what the day will bring. Take the time to be quiet at some point in your day.


5. Light a Candle

A candle creates a relaxing and soothing ambiance. I love to light one in the kitchen while I’m cooking or one at my desk while I’m working. It’s makes your space smell amazing and even smell is a sense that can lift your spirits.

Also, make sure your house is clean on a daily basis. Nothing makes me feel better than getting home after a long day to a perfectly (or as close to perfect as I can get with two dogs) clean home. Don’t go to bed with dishes in the sink, make your bed as soon as you get up and bleach your bathroom at least once a week.

Here are some of my very favorite candles:

1. Paddy Wax Ocean Tide + Sea Salt Jar Candle, Whole Foods
2. Linnea’s Light Belgian Linen Candle, AshBlue and White’s Mercantile
3. Capri Blue Jar Candle, Anthropologie
4. Park Hill Gladys Kitchen Candle, COLOR

You also might like:
Start the New Year Off Right: Super Healthy Green Smoothie – stylingmyeveryday.com
Homemade Chewy Granola Bars – stylingmyeveryday.com
Healthy Breakfast and Lunch – stylingmyeveryday.com