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Grey skies, rain, little sun, grey skies, fatigue, indoor events, dark mornings until 9 am, cold, in-between jackets, steamed-up glasses, and – you can guess it – grey skies. Welcome to the annual autumn- winter cocktail we have to go through in Düsseldorf from early November to Mid-March every year.

Some like this time (sus) and spend it sitting by their windows with a cup of tea, watching the leaves fall. Good for them! This post is targeted at everyone who can relate to the state listed above. I have tackled the question of what to do to escape from the winter blues in a large city such as Düsseldorf. There are things to do – and all you need to do is actually do them.

Find my entirely incomplete and highly subjective list below.

Tips against the winter blues

Don’t call me Captain Obvious just yet. My exercise strategy differs from those of others – it’s not six times in the gym from 1 to 14 January and then only four times until New Year’s Eve, but mostly exercise outdoors. I know. It’s not that easy when things are as described above. It is possible, however. The town is offering quite a few things that are cancelled for weather surprisingly rarely with its “Sport im Park” (sports in the park) courses. Running in the Grafenberger Wald or along the river Rhine also is much better than running on the treadmill in the gym. Follow the motto of bathing in the woods instead of checking in.

My personal exercise advice: new sports facilities seem to keep popping up in our town. My favourite is Padel, a trendy sport from Spain that is found more and more often in Germany as well. Many places in the urbanana area already offer it, including some outdoor ones.

Learning new things challenges the mind and makes us happier. There are many things to learn, too. Do you know how to knot a bowline, how to whistle on your fingers, how to sew your own pillowcase, how to play the guitar, how to hang up a picture, or how to play backgammon? The list goes on and on. Your parents or some of your friends surely know how to do some of the things from your list. Ask them, spend time with them, and learn something new. Win-win-win.

My personal learning advice: It may be a bit nerdy, but it’s not that hard to learn. Assigning a weekday to any date. I learned it from a YouTube video and only recently amazed an old friend’s children by being able to tell them the weekday on which they were born.

My favourite strategy against the blues. My daily to-do list includes an hour outdoors, no matter what. No life that gets in the way of this one. I go for walks with a podcast or e-book on my ears, with an umbrella or some tea in my hand. It’s also a good remedy for a bad mood. There’s an eastern European proverb that says that you “can walk off about anything.” Find your route and get out. Works like a charm.

My personal walking advice: Take your bike to Staufenplatz and leave it there. Walk via the Schöne Aussicht in the Grafenberger Wald to Gerresheim and have a coffee at Café Annegrete before going back. You’ll be outside for just over 1.5 h, take 10,000 steps, and enjoy some good coffee.

If you’re caught in grey weather already, you can surely escape from it into the story of a good book. Netflix et al can do the same, but it’ll be less satisfying for our minds. [Insert: Rant on why reading is better than watching TV, but you know that already ;)]. Our Düsseldorf town library at the main train station is outstanding and always worth a visit with its café.

My personal reading advice: Readers can surely find a treasure or two in the many book boxes set up in the quarters. Why don’t you drop by on a regular basis? I always find new gems in the Flingern book box.

If we put in some optimism, the things listed in the first paragraph will still happen, but it will be more fun. And add this to the list: walking, reading, Mondrian exhibition, exercise, mastering Rubik’s cube, café, game nights, exercise, making plans for summer, forest bathing, Spanish vocabulary, meditating, packing flea market boxes, Ina Müller in concert, knitting, exercise, etc.

Photos: Markus Sekulla, David Marcu auf Unsplash

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