Thrifty Tips to Beat the Gray Days
Living in Saint Louis, we are treated to some of the best features the changing season has to offer: chilly mornings give way to balmy afternoons and vibrant leaf colors abound. However, autumn does bring with it some unpleasantness. The repetitious gray skies can often feel like a real-life version of Groundhog Day. If I am not careful, I can find myself lying in bed, gorging on leftover Halloween candy and Netflix. Fortunately, there are tons of feel-good, cost-effective ways to beat the gray-day blues.
Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle has been proven to help alleviate stress and lighten the mood. However, on cold, gray days, it's so easy to come home, throw on some footed PJs and eat. Luckily, there are tons of incredible free apps for your iPhone or Android device that help track daily activity (or lack thereof). From freebies like Map My Walk to sophisticated activity trackers like the FitBit, there are endless possibilities to keep tabs on your movement. I use both of these every day to track my sleep, number of steps, distance walked and calories burned. The FitBit Flex does start at around $70, but in my mind it’s worth every penny.
MUSEUMS WITH EXTENDED HOURS
During the spring and summer months, staying active is so much easier. Living close to Forest Park, when I get home from work I can lace up my kicks, wander around the park for an hour and still be home well before sunset. Throughout the winter months, where does one go for a long, well-lit walk without hitting the treadmill? Fortunately, both the St. Louis Science Center and St. Louis Art Museum have some extended hours in November. If you feel like splurging, City Museum is open until midnight almost every Friday and Saturday all year round.
TAKE TO IKEA
During the cold, dark weeknights when I can’t make it to a museum before close, one of my all-time favorite places to explore is IKEA. While it lack the ambiance of say, Forest Park, IKEA is incredibly spacious—you can get lost for hours marveling at the modern Swedish furniture displays, testing out couches or rifling through the housewares section. The good news is that if you do intend upon spending your hard earned money, IKEA is well-known for their reasonable prices...and delicious meatballs.
Tip: Avoid the weekends—the crowds can make an otherwise relaxing trip incredibly frustrating. The later you can go on a weekday, the better.
JOIN A TEAM
Craving something a bit more active? Meetup offers literally thousands of free groups for like-minded sports and activity enthusiasts. This Facebook-integrated platform makes it easy to search your area for anything you have been itching to try. From classic Midwestern staples like bowling and basketball to newfangled sports like Wallyball, there are opportunities for both amateur and elite athletes alike.
SUNNY DAY FREEBIES
Saint Louis has some of the absolute best free outdoor spaces in the country. While much of November can remain gloomy and overcast, occasionally we will be blessed with a temperate, sunny weekend. I highly recommend cramming in as many of these family-friendly locations as possible before the weather makes it impossible:
- Saint Louis Zoo
- Tower Grove Park
- Forest Park
- Missouri History Museum
- World Bird Sanctuary
- Cahokia Mounds
- Cathedral Basilica
- Laumeier Sculpture Park
How do you tackle the darker days? What are your favorite free or inexpensive activities that ease your stress during the winter months? Please share them with us in the comments!