To know Montana is to love her – her gorgeous snow-packed peaks, pristine rivers, sprawling forests, warm people, and relaxed lifestyle. But even the most avid Montana lover will tell you that March is a long month, and not just because it has 31 days!
Even though the first day of spring is technically in March, die-hard Montanans know that March can mean gray skies and occasional freak snow storms. We are ready to leave winter behind this time of year, but Mother Nature often has other ideas. Here are a few ways to survive March, brought to you by a seasoned Montanan…
Learn something new
March is a perfect opportunity to learn something new, and there are countless ways to do it. Most Montana counties have adult education programs that offer everything from business to yoga classes.
Why not download that language app and tackle that foreign language you’ve always wanted to learn? Facebook is jammed with offers for photography, self-improvement, and business classes. Even though the lingering winter weather somewhat limits our options for outdoor activities, our brain doesn’t need a specific temperature to exercise!
Purchase a hard-copy book you’ve wanted to read and make it a goal to finish it in March. This tip has several benefits – reading an actual book means less screen time, which will help improve your mood and may lessen any feeling of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you may be feeling. In addition, setting and reaching a goal will spark your motivation and improve your sense of productivity.
Hobbies and crafts
Your level of enthusiasm for crafts is irrelevant when it comes to reaping the benefits of hobbies and crafts. Go to a craft store like Michaels, and you are bound to find something shiny that captures your eye. Consider adult coloring, cross-stitching, painting, making jewelry, creating a floral arrangement, or painting.
Even the least creative individual can find something to distract them from the late winter blahs, as many of these ideas come pre-packaged in a kit for beginners! Once again, this suggestion has multiple benefits – a dedicated craft project will distract you, creating something with your hands is incredibly therapeutic, you’ll have something to show for your efforts, and you may just stumble upon a new passion!
Go somewhere else!
Many Montanans leave in March to get Vitamin D and recharge their batteries. Allegiant Airlines has several non-stop, reasonably priced tickets to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix (depending on your market). Sneaking away for just a four-day weekend will do wonders for your mood and ability to dig deep for any remaining winter weather.
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Consider a staycation if you lack the time or resources for an out-of-town getaway. We are so fortunate in Western and Northwestern Montana that there is no shortage of fun things to do, regardless of the weather. Every week, Missoula Underground does an extensive round-up of festivities across Western and Northwestern Montana.
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If a staycation is out of reach, get creative at home! Buy some beach party decorations, make the kids a blanket fort in the living room, cue up some ocean wave sounds, put a beach background on the big screen TV, and top off pretty adult beverages with tiny umbrellas!
Whatever break you decide to take, consider making it an annual event – that way, you will have something to look forward to, year in and year out, when March rolls around.
Try new food
March is a great time to break out of your food rut with new and exciting flavors. Treat yourself to some crab legs, prepared food from the best grocery store deli in town, or buy a cookbook authored by your favorite TV chef. Many of our region’s boutique grocery stores also offer cooking classes.
Of course, you can break out of a food rut by visiting local area restaurants that you haven’t tried yet. Also, many towns like Hamilton, Missoula, and Bigfork have an impressive collection of food trucks representing many cuisines. Create a food adventure by taking a few risks, and don’t be surprised if the list of the things you love to eat grows!
Clean and organize
This option will only appeal to a few, as most of us are disinclined to clean or organize when a long winter has left us with precious little motivation. That said, compiling a small but obtainable list of things to clean, organize, and repair around the house can keep you occupied, help you feel accomplished, and good news – when spring rolls around, you can play outside guilt free because all the house projects are done!
Pro-tip: When cleaning, remember to look for cleaners with lemon, lavender, and other natural, clean scents. Even if spring is taking its time making an appearance outside, you can create the sights and smells of spring inside your home.
Why not spend some of March drooling over Pinterest design ideas, and then pick a corner or two of your home that could use a refresh? Few things provide a more powerful distraction than re-working a tired space. Sometimes, just a fresh coat of paint will keep you busy, make the room smell clean and new, and provide a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Don’t forget the power of fresh flowers during this time of year! A thoughtfully placed bouquet will trick your eyes and nose into thinking that garden weather has already arrived.
Shamelessly binge-watch something
Remember that our long winters give us a much-needed time to heal. The last couple of years has been extremely difficult on individuals, couples, and families, for a multitude of reasons. Give yourself a break if you give in to the late winter blahs. Find something you enjoy watching and catch up on all seasons. Nice weather is right around the corner, but for now, you can still binge-watch your favorite series with little to no guilt. If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, be careful about what you watch – steer away from dark and disturbing content.
Another thing you can do to appease any couch potato guilt you may have is to do chores between episodes. When an episode is over, commit 15-20 minutes to doing a chore – fold and put away a load of laundry, load or unload the dishwasher, or vacuum the floors. This way, you can zone out to your favorite TV show while still feeling intermittently productive.
The benefits of keeping a personal journal are countless. If March feels a bit reminiscent of The Shining, consider keeping a journal. If you think writing is not for you, or you don’t enjoy writing, jot just a few sentences a day. You may be amazed by the things that start to flow from your pen, which can lead to great insight and personal growth.
Naturally, there are thousands of kinds of journals to choose from. Formats vary from highly structured, to guided, to unstructured. A three-ring notebook is enough to get you started if these formats feel too formal.
If journaling is a turn-off, try writing the short story that has been gnawing at you for months. If your inner storyteller is hibernating, consider writing letters to friends and family. Simply dedicating time to re-instate the art of writing letters will help to pass the time, relieve stress, and strengthen family connections.
After several months, short days and limited daylight hours can wreak havoc on our energy levels and moods. Therapeutic lamps are designed to mimic outdoor light and have been recommended to help cure the winter blahs (and to assist with Seasonal Affective Disorder.) These lamps are reasonably priced and small enough to set up anywhere.
Cards and podcasts
If you’ve ever stared out the window on a March evening and wondered, “What the heck did our grandparents do at the end of a long winter?” the answer is: they listened to the radio, and they played cards!
With the introduction and popularity of podcasts, we can do the same thing! Pull away from the screens and stream a podcast over a wireless speaker for the whole family. March is a perfect time to learn card games while your favorite podcast plays in the background. Cribbage, rummy, and pinochle are all classic card games families have enjoyed for decades.
One of the best things we can do when winter is getting the best of us is get outside. It can feel like an impossible proposition, but as my marathon running friend used to tell me, “The hardest part is putting on your shoes.” She’s not wrong — once you are bundled up and doing something outside, you instantly feel better. Try cross-country skiing, sledding, or a walk along a river or lake. Take pictures. Languish in the sun for a few minutes. Forcing yourself outside in early spring days, even when you REALLY don’t feel like, will do wonders to boost your mood.
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If you think your apathy and lack of motivation are more than the winter blahs, seek help. A mental health professional can help you determine if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder or another type of depression that may require treatment. Get a recommendation from your primary health provider, or research online therapy options.
March is also bringing the first official day of spring and daylight savings time. We are on the right side of winter – we just need a little push creatively to get us over the finish line.
Kat Hobza has lived in Montana since she was nine, and was raised in the mountains west of Victor, Montana. There she learned to hunt, fish, shoot competitively, chop and stack firewood, and drive on icy or muddy roads. Kat has over two decades of experience in professional writing and content marketing. When she’s not crafting copy for Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty, she’s either hanging with her hilarious adult kids or soaking up the sun somewhere – a riverbank, a golf course, or her deck.
Enjoy our recently refreshed LIVE Montana…