Reboot Your Midwinter Wardrobe

No question, this is the time of year when deciding what to wear can feel like a Groundhog’s Day moment. A little closet rehab will do the trick.

Closet Conundrum: The rich, dark colors you loved last fall are making you feel washed out.

Style Solution: Add a bright accent like a scarf or chunky necklace close to your face. Even if that necklace seems summer-y, it’s fair game to slip one off-season piece into the mix (see tip, below).

Closet Conundrum: You want to buy new clothes. Your budget says…wait till spring!

Style Solution: Take a weekend afternoon and have a try-on party. Pull your winter pieces out and mix things up in front of your mirror. Once you start experimenting, you’ll see that you have more outfits than you thought.

Closet Conundrum: You have new spring clothes on hand, but it’s too cold to start wearing them.

Style Solution: Layer one spring piece with your warmer staples. You’ll look fresh, and you’ll still stay warm. Example: Pair a flirty floral dress or colorful new capri pants with a chunky oversize cardigan or a leather jacket and your favorite booties.

Closet Conundrum: You waste time each morning trying on several outfits.

Style Solution: First, organize your closet. Just looking at it should inspire browsing. Tidy up the piles of shoes, toss old wire hangers, and spray a little fabric refresher for a scent boost. Second, have a try-on party (see above) and take pictures of the looks you feel amazing in, so you can reference them later. Even better: Share photos with your best friends and see what you can swap!

Up and at ’Em

If a typical morning has you reaching for the snooze button again and again, or starting the day feeling grouchy, take heart. Some simple tweaks to your lifestyle can help you get off on the right foot.

Plan a tasty, healthy breakfast. Before turning in for the night, make sure you have the ingredients on hand for an energizing, nutritious morning meal. If you love it and you know it’s good for you, you’ll be psyched to get up and eat. Consider oatmeal or yogurt with berries and walnuts; a multigrain bagel with peanut butter and banana; scrambled eggs with diced tomatoes and mushrooms; or whip up a healthy smoothie.

Place a cozy bathrobe at the foot of your bed. Make it soft and appealingly scented by laundering it with awakening aromas such as citrus. The combination of an uplifting scent and silky softness will make your robe feel fabulous—enticing you to ditch the covers and start the day.

Expose yourself to light. As soon as you wake up, throw open your curtains (or raise your blinds) to let in the natural light, or have breakfast near a sun-drenched window. Exposure to morning light regulates your body’s internal clock and tells your brain that it’s time to wake up and swing into action.

Play inspiring tunes. Another get-going move: Play music that’ll cheer you up, or help you get focused for what you’re going to do. Think of this as creating a soundtrack for how you want your day to unfold.

Schedule a fun activity for the morning. Take an indoor cycling, kickboxing, or invigorating yoga class to rev you up. Sneak in a pleasant errand (like buying fresh flowers or gourmet coffee) on your way to work. Or set a phone date with one of your best pals to help you feel motivated to start the day. Try it and you’ll start to realize that when you have a treat waiting for you, sleeping in will be a thing of the past.

Control Your Kudos!

Compliments—they’re everywhere! And sure, it feels good to give ’em, but receiving them has perks, too. Research shows that they can not only boost your confidence and task performance but also ease bad moods. So why not snag some accolades for yourself? Here’s how.

Manipulate your family. Relax, it’s for good, not evil: Whether you cook dinner once a week or every night, plan meals with your kids and significant other. You’ll be sure to serve up hits and get praised in the process. Who knows, maybe they’ll offer to clean up afterward.

Brighten up. Wash your tablecloths, shower curtains, sofa throws, and comforters with laundry detergent that will help maintain their brightness and freshness. Visitors will give you props for having such a sparkling home (and never guess how easy it was). Be sure to check labels for washing instructions.

Smell extra nice. Hey, you notice good aromas and others will too. Spritz perfume on your ankles so that the scent floats up over your body. And launder your clothes in a deep-cleaning detergent made for fitness apparel.

Praise a stranger. Speaking of the gym, you know that woman who gives 200% in cycling class? Or the one who burpee’d her way to arms of steel? Let them know that their hard work motivates you. Chances are, they’ll return the praise when they catch you working your hardest.

Receive accolades graciously. When someone flatters you, respond with a warm “Thank you!” Accepting a compliment is essentially a compliment in itself because it tells the other person her opinion matters to you. It’s a win-win!

Bring Comfort & Joy Into Winter Weather

Who says winter has to be the season of discontent? Prevent your mood and energy level from heading south during the cold, damp days of winter by creating an indoor oasis that will infuse your life with a welcome dose of fun or serenity. Here are five ways to do that.

Make a scrapbook. Spend some time sorting through photos, and let family members create their own pages of favorite memories from each season last year. It’ll be a pleasant walk down memory lane while you’re putting the book together—and when you look at it again in the future.

Build a living room fort. Let your kids use supersoft sheets and blankets to construct a fort. Start by creating a palette of cushions and pillows on the floor for comfort (don’t forget blankets for warmth). Make a tent out of sheets and blankets, using the couch or chairs for support. Then, grab some flashlights, picture books, and cups of cocoa (with marshmallows, of course) and head under cover. Give the blankets and sheets a soft, soothing boost with a liquid fabric softener in a soothing scent.

Create a meaningful still life. For a quick dose of happiness, gather some of your favorite things—photographs, fresh flowers, small pieces of pottery or sculpture, even your children’s artwork—and arrange them in a tableau that reminds you of the small pleasures in your life. Make sure it’s in a place you walk by or gaze at frequently (on your desk or nightstand, for example), for maximum impact.

Schedule a home-based matinee. Put on a classic movie and snuggle up with your kids on the couch for a private screening. Pop a large bag of plain, microwave popcorn, and then divide it into individual bowls. Let each snacker choose how to flavor their batch (think: cinnamon sugar, Parmesan cheese, cumin, or other spices). For added fun, let everyone do a taste test then vote on the best flavor.

Prepare your own stress SOS kit. Think about how you could treat your senses to some R&R when your stress-meter hits overload. Organize a basket of soothing items like scented candles, bath salts, and your favorite tea (try calming flavors such as green, chamomile, or vanilla), and keep a playlist of your favorite relaxing music on hand. Turn to these tools as needed and enjoy the comforts of home.

Just Say Yes!

Tackling a new challenge makes life more fun. Make this the year you green-light the new stuff. Go on—shake things up!

1. Dare yourself more. Bust out of your comfort zone by doing something bold: Do one of those crazy obstacle-course mud runs that are all the rage. Or take part in an underwear run, a polar bear swim, an urban Iditarod where teams drive shopping carts instead of dogsleds—you get the idea. By doing so, you’ll discover you’re braver and perhaps tougher than you thought. At the very least, you’ll get a thrill.

2. Freshen up ordinary tasks. Drive a different route home from the grocery store and see what you discover. Brush your teeth using your nondominant hand, for kicks. Use fragrance to excite your senses around the house with scented candles, potpourri, and in your cleaning and laundry supplies.  

3. Reinvent date night. Whether it’s with your sweetie or with friends, who says an evening out has to equal dinner and a movie? Think outside the box. Go disco bowling this Saturday night, or sign up for a pottery class or whatever sparks your combined interests.  

4. Inject new life into your day-to-day habits. Once a week, make a point to try a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had, maybe something exotic like a mangosteen or pepino or an item you’ve been afraid of (persimmons or rutabagas, anyone?). Take a new class at your gym like burlesque dancing or one of those fusion yoga/body conditioning/tai chi classes. Or use a body lotion with an unusual-for-you scent. You’ll infuse your life with a dose of freshness.  

5. Accept unusual invitations. If you get an offer to play paintball or to go bird-watching or orienteering (if you don’t know what it is, look it up), quash your knee-jerk instinct to say “No, thank you” and give it a try. Who knows? You might enjoy yourself, and even if you don’t, you’ll have great stories to share with your BFFs.